Refiguring the modern self through "Hamlet" and "Ulysses"

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy - Committee Chair


What do Hamlet and Ulysses say about aspects of the self that were important in their historical moments, and remain important aspects of the modern identity?My project addresses this question through four parts. Chapter 1 supports the thesis that Hamlet is less a confirmation of the modern (i.e., post-medieval) identity than an ambivalent investigation of its implications, which are discussed in terms of the Protestant break from the Catholic Church. Chapter 2 investigates how Shakespeare came to be appropriated by various groups in Ireland during the late nineteenth century to articulate visions of the self that supported imperial, colonial, and national identities. Chapter 3 investigates Joyce's experiments with interior monologue in Ulysses to support the thesis that the book calls into question both the capacity of the text to provide a mimesis of consciousness, and the notion of text and self as complete, separable entities. Chapter 4 investigates Joyce's novel in the context of the rise of literature as an academic discipline to claim that Joyce's combination of classical and local allusion challenges the modern emphasis in imperial education on disengagement and inwardness. As Shakespeare anachronistically places a modern Protestant character in a medieval Catholic setting in Hamlet, so Joyce uses the dissonance of modern characters with mythic parallels in Ulysses to raise questions about the modern identity and its emphasis on autonomy, inwardness, and everyday life.


Literature, Modern; Theater; Education, History of; Literature, English

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