Adrian Stokes, Modernism and the problem of reparation

Haywood, Kirsten (2018) Adrian Stokes, Modernism and the problem of reparation. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis re-evaluates the work of art writer Adrian Stokes through the Kleinian concept he identified as its underlying theme: that of ‘reparation’, translated from ‘Wiedergutmachung’, literally ‘to make well again’. Stokes’s work, it argues, provides new perspectives on what he read as the simultaneously redemptive and dangerous desire to create something newly whole from the ‘ruins’ of modernity. The project attends to this as both an aspect of his own work and of the aesthetic and ideological developments of the mid-Twentieth Century more generally: it moves through Stokes’s own brush with the ‘palingenetic’ aesthetics of fascism; his attempt to make amends for its destruction through his psychoanalysis with Klein; his reading of the reparative fantasies behind modernity’s embrace of machine power; and his later analysis of avant-garde painting and British abstract sculpture as different attempts to salvage the fragments of modernity into a meaningful object. In doing so, the thesis centres around a particular contradiction that Klein brought, controversially, to the forefront of psychoanalytic thought: that the desire for reparation itself can often turn destructive. As such, this thesis also treats Stokes’s work as a re-evaluation of Klein’s cultural relevance. Her reappraisal of the role of destruction in infantile life, it suggests, offers an insightful reading of the formal and conceptual struggles particular to the Modernist period: the possibility of creating a coherent object out of chaos and fragmentation; the capacity to cope with the failure of such objects to be ‘ideal’; and the necessity of destruction and loss for the creation of meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 10:14
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2022 01:38

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