Date of Thesis

Spring 5-2012

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Department

English

First Advisor

Harriet Pollack

Abstract

This thesis uses Sergei Eisenstein’s filmic theories of montage to examine the modernist American short story cycle, a genre of independent short stories that work together to create a larger and interrelated whole. Similar to the shot-by-shot editing process of montage, the story cycle builds its intertextual meaning story-by-story from an aggregate of abrupt narrative transitions and juxtapositions. Eisenstein famously felt that montage, the editing together of film fragments, was not a process of linkage, but of collision –each radically different shot in a film should crash into the next shot, until audience members were intellectually provoked into synthesizing these collisions through dialectical processes. I offer montage as an interpretive strategy for negotiating the narrative collisions in story cycles such as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses, and Eudora Welty’s The Golden Apples. For Go Down, Moses, I argue that Eisenstein’s politically rendered “montage of attractions” provides a template for investigating the shock tactics behind Faulkner’s chronologically and racially entangled stories of whites and African Americans. For The Golden Apples, I consider the opposites and doubles in Welty’s fiction with Eisenstein’s similar belief in the “opposing passions” of the world. Not only, then, do I suggest that the modernist story cycle bears a cinematic influence, but I also offer Eisenstein’s theories of montage and collision as a heuristic for formal, thematic, and even political patterns in a genre infamous for its resistance to definition and classification.

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