Date of Award

12-17-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Chris Kocela

Second Advisor

Audrey Goodman

Third Advisor

Pearl McHaney

Fourth Advisor

n/a

Fifth Advisor

n/a

Sixth Advisor

n/a

Seventh Advisor

n/a

Abstract

Don DeLillo’s Underworld employs formal approaches to the novel that question the limits of language. DeLillo’s novel charts an ecology of the human relation to the material world as it is created by language. He uses parataxis to demonstrate the methods whereby language receives limitation from its situation in frames of reference that are both historical and fictional. His formal techniques show how Cold War tropes inform interpretation of the material world through discourse, in terms of paranoia and knowledge, consumer capitalism and waste, and historically relevant forms of mimesis. This thesis argues that DeLillo’s emphasis on the limitation of discourse through framing encourages the reader to consider the ability of language to generate awareness of the grounds for its situatedness in time and history. The reader’s ceremonial engagement with the mimesis of the text creates the possibility for a temporality based in thought, dignity, and consequence to emerge.

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