Date of Thesis

5-8-2017

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Anthony F. Stewart

Abstract

In this thesis, I am interested in examining the use of names in the work of Percival Everett. Everett often names characters after famous figures (e.g. Sidney Poitier, Alan Turing) or even after himself. The relationship between these characters and their namesakes is varied, unstable, and at times ambiguous. I will examine the ways that this technique of defamiliarization calls into question not just the way that language works, but the way that it structures our understanding of the world and the things in it. Everett's work forces us to confront the inadequacy and contradictions of the short-cuts we use to 'know'. It forces us, in other words, to question the underlying assumptions and categories we use when we read, not just texts, but society at large. I am not chiefly interested in understanding Everett's work, or this particular device, but instead I propose a reading of Everett in concert with the context in which it was produced to attempt to diagnose and provide some small corrective to the ills afflicting criticism in the contemporary moment. In particular, I will make use of the critiques of criticism in Bruno Latour's "Has Critique Run Out of Steam?" to inform my project.

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