Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Stephen Sicari

Abstract

This dissertation examines the binary of transcendence and immanence in the poetry of W. B. Yeats, The Cantos of Ezra Pound, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Utilizing a theoretical lens provided primarily through the writings of Jacques Derrida and an historical context established by Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, the paper argues that the literary texts of Yeats, Pound, and Joyce deconstruct a Western cultural history of a transcendent-immanent binary and seek to revive elements of the transcendent as a cure to the consequences of the dominant materialist-immanent worldview of Enlightenment modernity. This paper relies on the distinction between twentieth century literary modernism and modernity, seeing literary modernism as an avant-garde movement that experiments with style and a more responsive, adaptable, de-centered, view that is suspicious of the stratified, hierarchical, mechanistic view of modernity, a view of human life which can lead to a flattened and oppressive view of reality and the universe. Modernity, beginning around 1500 according to Taylor, in its emphasis on rationality and the empirical, and its de-emphasis on belief in the spiritual or enchanted, has a had negative effect, a sense that something is missing in twentieth century views of life that these works seek to address. Ultimately, these works produce moments of the transcendent in their fragmented twentieth century view of the world that do not coalesce into a stratified view but allow for the incorporation of elements of both the immanent and transcendent.

Share

COinS