Publication Date

2012-05-06

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2014-05-06

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-04-10

First Committee Member

Sandra Pouchet Paquet

Second Committee Member

Patrick McCarthy

Third Committee Member

Joel Nickels

Fourth Committee Member

David Luis-Brown

Abstract

In this dissertation, I define the baroque imagination as the mindset of an intellectual in the postcolonial world, grappling creatively with multiple cultural inheritances and attempting to fashion a literary oeuvre that will redefine the individual’s relationship to the center and to the island culture from which he comes. Gottfried Leibniz’s theories of the monad and the baroque, as interpreted by Gilles Deleuze in The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, provide the theoretical grounding for my concept of the baroque imagination as do Edouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation and Wilson Harris’ concept of the cross-cultural imagination. In the works of Alejo Carpentier, Derek Walcott and Seamus Heaney, the baroque imagination concretizes the abstraction of Emmanuel Levinas’ concept of the face, providing distinct features and a context that form the basis for a baroque humanism. The first chapter traces the evolution of the baroque in Carpentier’s prose and novels from a means of articulating identity, to a joyful celebration of hybridity and ultimately a self-questioning discourse as a way of articulating the marvelous reality of the Caribbean and of interrogating the myths of European superiority. The second chapter analyzes Walcott’s long poems as the constitution of a new form of poetry that incorporates the epical and the lyrical and make the Caribbean a rhizomatic center of cultural production, while marginalizing the effect of the metropolis. Chapter three examines Heaney’s baroque imagination as a way to simultaneously create a cultural thickness for Northern Ireland, while opening out the definition of Irishness itself. He strives for relation between not just the colonizer and the colonized, but among all people of the world through artistic and literary engagement. The conclusion considers the ways that the baroque articulation of the self advocates a more inclusive humanism that serves as an ethical ideal.

Keywords

Baroque; Alejo Carpentier; Derek Walcott; Seamus Heaney; Leibniz; Levinas

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