Passages and Screens: Media Technologies in Texts by Henry James, Clara Smith, Theodora Bosanquet, Mina Loy, and Kenneth Fearing Open Access

Weil, Alex Christopher (2014)

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Passages and Screens looks at the ways in which English-language stories, novels, and poems published between 1880 and 1945 reflect changing media technologies' influence on literary writing, on society, and on the self. During this period, I argue, a growing consciousness of the diversity of the material means of communication and perception undermines a sense of a consistent relationship between the self and a stable world. This consciousness, in turn, causes novelists and poets to reformulate ways of living and writing in relation to a reality that is not only constructed through the mediation of communication technologies but also rendered discontinuous or incomplete by their diversity. Through the mimicry of other media forms and their transposition into novels and poetry, the literary texts addressed in this dissertation attempt to describe the divergent effects of different media and to evaluate the evolving relationship between humans and technology. Chapter One describes Henry James's use of epistolary narration to depict two different but interrelated media of global communication, money and postal systems. Chapter Two discusses the cultural effects of the increasing speed associated with innovations in communication technologies by contrasting the themes and narrative techniques in James's novella In the Cage with Clara Smith and Theodora Bosanquet's novel Spectators. Chapter Three looks at how Mina Loy draws on the philosophy of Henri Bergson and on technology's restructuring of the faculty of vision to reformulate the relationship between image and self in her early poetry. Chapter Four examines the role that electric and electronic communication plays in generating simultaneity and its concomitant effects on the formation or dissolution of communities in Kenneth Fearing's novels The Hospital and Clark Gifford's Body.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter One 19

"Even as a letter through the post-office": Epistolary Narrative and the Post in Henry James

Chapter Two 97

"We still have telegrams with us, don't we?": Speed and Communication from Henry James's In the Cage to Theodora Bosanquet and Clara Smith's Spectators

Chapter Three 155

Eyes Entangled: Mediated Vision and Henri Bergson's Philosophy in Mina Loy's Early Poetry

Chapter Four 212

"People otherwise not related": Simultaneity in Kenneth Fearing's The Hospital and Clark Gifford's Body

Notes 275

Works Cited 283

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