Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Brunner, Edward

Abstract

Ghost, Animal, Android: Trauma, Posthuman Ethics, and Radical Vulnerability in American Literature, 1940-2010 The dissertation argues that the literary topoi of the ghost, animal, and android function as ethical categories offering access to traces of trauma that operate beyond the boundaries of the human. The study revises the traditional argument that the literatures of trauma work to heal the victims of personal and cultural catastrophes by emphasizing work by William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, William Heyen, and Philip K. Dick that resists an oversimplified notion of healing and instead experiments with nonhuman models of subjectivity as means through which to manage open wounds. Able to register traumatic events at the very edge of understanding, canonical and popular depictions of the ghost, animal, and android disturb readers into an ethics of radical vulnerability, encouraging them to cross subjective and cultural thresholds and become vulnerable to the present but elusive pain of others.

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