Date of Thesis

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Major

English

First Advisor

Anthony Stewart

Keywords

James Joyce, Ralph Ellison, intellectual, intellectualism, othering

Abstract

In this thesis, I examine a pairing of protagonists and texts, Stephen Dedalus of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and the unnamed protagonist-narrator of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1953), to explore the ways in which these protagonists are Othered as a result of their unconventional intellectualism, and how that Othering impacts their progress towards self-actualization. Making use of writings by Jacques Lacan, Pierre Bourdieu, Edward Said, Hélène Cixous, Louis Althusser, and Richard Rorty, among others, I engage with theories of language, intellect, intellectualism, and the role of the intellectual, especially when he/she is a marginalized figure. I assert that in opting for self-imposed exile, these two Othered intellectuals step outside of the society of which they are products to occupy liminal spaces, outside of convention, from which they are able to function and be productive as intellectuals. Ultimately, I contend that their portrayals demonstrate that high intellectual pursuits have inherent and intrinsic value, if only for their import and centrality to the intellectuals themselves.

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