National narration and migrant mimicry : restaging the imperial theater in Joyce and Rushdie

Kane, Jean Mary, Department of English, University of Virginia
Levinson, Michael, Department of English, University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, Department of English, University of Virginia
Mentore, George, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

Ireland and India describe the poles of the British imaginary. At the turn of the twentieth century, the neighboring Celtic brute was England's oldest- possession, the ineffable, remote Oriental a comparatively late creation of the Raj. These versions of Caliban nonetheless occupy a common imperial theater, which James Joyce and Salman Rushdie take as the scene of comic demystification and re-enchantment in their fiction. Both authors analyze the pervasive effects of British imperialism and its interaction with religious hegemony or conflict, yet are equally critical of romantic nationalisms.

This dissertation examines medicine as the central discourse of national formation in Dubliners and Midnight's Children, and theatrical mimicry as the analytical myth of Ulysses and The Satanic Verses. These works--which break out of individualistic forms of psychological understanding to imagine historical, corporate, and somatic subjectivities--aim to insinuate epochal movement into the immediate, lived experience of the community. The authors' early works highlight the rhetoric of disease to fragment or disturb the image of the organic body politic, their central conceit. Ulysses uses the liminality of the "not quite white" yet European subaltern to animate the Irish, employing a native ethnology to revise racialism exhaust the conventions of the British novel through a "mastering" mimicry. At the same time that Rushdie forwards the sacral claims of the modernist novel to challenge the univocality of revelation in The Satanic Verses, he also seeks a resting point for Joycean experiment, imagined as the endless circulation of postmodern meaning and commodified image.

Though they write allegories of colonial and postcolonial nationality, Joyce and Rushdie also exemplify the intellectual migrant, metropolitan in his aesthetic allegiances, his secularism, his European residence and success. Both figures have been lionized as innovators of "international" modernisms and derided as traitors to their original communities. In examining the "scandals" of Ulysses and The Satanic Verses, I trace their careers as auratic and technological objects, and their authors' histories as products of metropolitan and subaltern allegory.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Joyce, James -- 1882-1941, Rushdie, Salman
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