Significant silences and muted machines: Textile tropes in British literature around the Industrial Revolution.
Author(s)McConnell, Kathleen Lynn.
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AbstractTextile metaphors are as common in literature as actual textiles in the material world. Their familiarity, combined with potential for describing complex relationships, renders them useful to literary critics and creative writers alike. Roland Barthes describes literature as an " hyphology;" Elaine Showalter chooses a quilting metaphor to describe the fragmented texts of women writers; N. Katherine Hayles models the intersection between literature and science as a "cosmic web." The complexity of textile metaphors also ensures that they provide apt vehicles for chapter one's theory based on pattern, rather than on agonistic oppositions. Patterns include contrasts, but are not limited to them: like a weft thread that doubles back on itself, sometimes apparently discrete elements actually consist of sameness.
For example, in chapter four of this thesis, Freud's description of the Fort/Da incident illuminates the conceal-and-reveal aspects of Jacques Derrida's essay "A Silkworm of One's Own," Pherekydes's cosmogonic myth (in which the sky father Zas fashions an uncanny cloak for his betrothed Chthonie, which invests her with her identity of earth mother Ge) and Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet "Lift not the painted veil..." From this analysis comes the elegantly simple premise that veil tropes, like veils, function by transferring attention from the thing(s) cloaked to themselves, thus doubly repressing the hidden. This understanding in turn reveals a pattern in the use of cloak and veil imagery in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, though not before a short exploration of contemporary Islamic feminism. Finally, the chapter draws on aspects of domestic culture to explore some narrative "folds," a word significantly reiterated in Frankenstein , but also metonymic of the chapter itself.
The rest of the thesis proceeds in a similarly intertextual manner. By drawing on primary, theoretical, mythological, and etymological sources, each chapter discerns some of the ubiquitous yet rarely celebrated patterns of textile metaphors underlying literary culture. In so doing, the analysis reminds us that both text and textile are rooted in the Latin word texere, "to weave."
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Dalhousie University (Canada), 2000.