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University of Michigan

1. Burch, Julia Frances. Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity.

Degree: PhD, Romance literature, 1994, University of Michigan

This dissertation studies the relationship between theories of culture and postcolonial experience, especially of violence as material oppression, and the nature of subjectivity in a postmodern and increasingly transnational world. Drawing on the liminal spaces of the open sea or desert isle, the textual ambiguities of the true narrative of shipwreck and suffering, and the compelling figure of the shipwrecked body, the texts I read use the genre of the survivor's tale to explore problems of contemporary identity and history, and to confront the painful life conditions of much of the world's populace. I analyze the uses and questionings of what has been called the undeniable power of the suffering body in recent literature and illuminate the ways some writers use the shipwreck narrative to explore the legacy of the colonial encounter outside of the binary of postmodernism/ postcolonialism while examining the problems of violence – its representation and effects – without adopting the positivist, victim-centered paradigm prevalent in recent popular culture. While the shipwreck narrative is an old, even ancient genre, I argue that these stories draw their force from connections to the contemporary forms of the testimony or trauma survivor's tale. Some of the issues implicit in recent thinking about the activity of witnessing, and the theory and practice of trauma treatment – the nature of narrative and subjectivity, and the relationship between discourse and the material or political conditions of lived experience – are sources of tension in contemporary critical theories of postmodernism and feminism. Moreover, the classical shipwreck narrative is imbued with ideas of national identity and definitions of Europe and its Others which shape related discussions of postcolonialism. Using literary and cultural theory, anthropology and psychology, and textual analysis, I study the use of the narrative structures and themes of the authentic shipwreck narrative, or more broadly, the survivor's tale in five recent novels and one memoir. The Bone People (1984), by Keri Hulme; Foe (1986), by J. M. Coetzee; John Dollar (1989), by Marianne Wiggins; Middle Passage (1990), by Charles Johnson; Indigo (1992), by Marina Warner; and W ou le souvenir d'enfance (1975), by Georges Perec. Advisors/Committee Members: Chambers, Ross (advisor), Herrmann, Anne (advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Narratives; Postcultural; Shipwreck; Sink; Subjectivit; Subjectivity; Survival; Swim; Tales

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APA (6th Edition):

Burch, J. F. (1994). Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Michigan. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/129339

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Burch, Julia Frances. “Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity.” 1994. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan. Accessed December 05, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/129339.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Burch, Julia Frances. “Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity.” 1994. Web. 05 Dec 2020.

Vancouver:

Burch JF. Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Michigan; 1994. [cited 2020 Dec 05]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/129339.

Council of Science Editors:

Burch JF. Sink or swim: Shipwreck narratives, survival tales, and postcultural subjectivity. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Michigan; 1994. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/129339

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