Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy

Second Committee Member

Tim Watson

Third Committee Member

John Paul Russo

Fourth Committee Member

Margot Norris


My dissertation challenges the longstanding dismissal of love in James Joyce's texts by examining the ethical and political implications of his love stories. Primarily using Martin Buber's works (but also including perspectives derived from bell hooks and Julia Kristeva), I define love as an affirmation of otherness and adopt a critical framework that promotes the love of others over the narcissistic devotion to oneself. In so doing, I highlight love as the ultimate challenge to authoritarian systems because the embrace of the other is necessary to transcend the boundaries that alienate individuals from each other and that justify imperialist and racist political structures. I thus offer a love ethic that not only compels meaningful individual interaction, but also establishes a model for effective social and civic participation, encouraging a climate of cooperation that embraces the solidarity and empathy needed for progressive politics. I also argue that analyzing Joyce's works provides a fruitful opportunity to recognize the individual and political viability of this love ethic. Focusing on Dubliners, Stephen Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles, and Ulysses, I examine the relationships between his characters' pursuits of love and their socio-political struggles, arguing that their love for others directly influences their acceptance of otherness within the colonialist discourses of Joyce's Dublin. For example, James Duffy's refusal of Emily Sinico in "A Painful Case" also rejects her advice to engage in the political cooperation that would promote his socialist ideas. Similarly, Stephen Dedalus's promotion of symbolic romance over real-world attachments focuses his aesthetics on ideal beauty instead of everyday Dublin, which alienates him from his audience and limits the practical success of his art. By contrast, Leopold Bloom's love for his wife Molly reflects a broader empathy for others that encourages social dialogue and counteracts what Joyce called "the old pap of racial hatred," an element in both British imperialism and Irish nationalism. My dissertation's afterword anticipates the amorous potential of Finnegans Wake, reading ALP's concluding soliloquy as a demonstration of her enduring affection for HCE that is reignited through each iteration of the text's cyclical narrative.


"Two Gallants"; "Eveline"; "Araby"; Narcissism; I And Thou; "The Boarding House"; "A Little Cloud"; "The Dead"; Amatory Freedom; Amatory Aesthetics; "Lycidas"; "word Known To All Men"; Richard Rowan; "Love's Old Sweet Song"; "Penelope"; Molly Bloom