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In the dark: Issues of value, evaluation, and authority in twentieth century critical discourse

Barrett, Lindon Warren. University of Pennsylvania. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1990. 9101135.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation, comprised of five chapters, details a theoretical model of value in order to investigate some recent revolutions in literary critical authority. Investigated in particular are aspects of recent literary critical revolutions which make possible the acceptance of subaltern expressive traditions--in particular, African-American expressive traditions--as literature. To this end, the study begins by positing violence, the forcible altering of Otherwise established forms, as the originary opening of value. Rather than a peculiarly fixed form, value is understood as a guileful process. The second chapter presents a reading of Ann Petry's 1946 novel The Street (reissued in 1985 and newly present in academic literary circles) in order to elaborate this theoretical specification of value. The Petry novel troubles the notion of a clear and discrete separation between American suburbs and African-American ghettos, and this study, in its three remaining chapters, analogously challenges the notion of a clear and distinct separation between the literary and the extraliterary. Accordingly, the third chapter of this study places the highly influential insights of the New Critics within a progression of American social thought with ranges from Thomas Jefferson to George Fitzhugh to the Southern Agrarians. The fourth chapter examines related efforts of literary critical discourse to reconcile itself to the menacing authority of science and, thereby, appropriate for itself some of the authority of science. The dissertation concludes with an appraisal of the poststructuralist dialogue between Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Barbara Johnson over Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter," a dialogue that institutionally and hermeneutically extends the exclusion of subaltern expressive traditions.

Indexing (details)

American literature;
African Americans
0591: American literature
0325: Black studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics
In the dark: Issues of value, evaluation, and authority in twentieth century critical discourse
Barrett, Lindon Warren
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 51/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Roberts, John W.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL