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The (Dis)Unity of the Western Modern Project

  • Author(s): Vesco, Shawna
  • Advisor(s): Godzich, Wlad
  • et al.
Abstract

In this dissertation I explore the crumbling foundations of the Modern Project in order to assert that not only has “modernity” itself collapsed, but that many of its attendant institutions have as well: the State, the Individual, the Nation, and even Literature. Literature has always been bound up and complicit in these now defunct formations through an alliance forged around the concept of “unity.” The Modern Project and Literature in its wake each posit unity as a constitutive principal of the Individual, the Work of Art, sociality and order in general. The thought of unity dangerously implies that disunited things must be violently subsumed into unification, and I endeavor to trace the fault lines of modernity in order to reckon with the remainders, the “what” or “who,” that have been discarded and erased in the exchange of disunity for unity. I pit against Literature (understood as a homogenizing or institutional force) what Maurice Blanchot terms “écriture” (writing). Écriture is a mode of witnessing that, rather than making the unseen visible, intimates an irrecoverable silencing and erasure. I then assemble a counter-tradition to the Modern Project through a reading of texts by Maurice Blanchot, Assia Djebar, Tom McCarthy, Franz Rosenzweig, William Gibson and Bilge Karasu.

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