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'En avant, mes enfants!': Nations, Populations, and the Avant-Garde Body in James Joyce's 'Oxen of the Sun'
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2019 (English)In: Comparative Literature, ISSN 0010-4124, E-ISSN 1945-8517Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

In the “Oxen of the Sun” episode of Ulysses James Joyce dramatizes the evolution of English prose styles by creating a stylistic matrix for gestation. The episode’s evolutionary features are well known. In his clues for the episode, Joyce refers to recapitulation as a key structural principle and suggests that “Oxen”’s master symbol, the womb, encapsulates the synchronized processes of language and embryo growth. Apart from the centrality of the evolutionary design, however, the episode persistently achieves more, if not something else completely. This essay addresses “Oxen”’s complexity by highlighting a connection between its evolutionary form and its avant-garde tactics, a conjunction that has not been sufficiently explored. The larger argument at stake in this analysis is that the episode’s evolutionary design and its tactics of rupture work together to dislocate and reimagine the rhetoric of national conception that dominated Irish political discourse. By foregrounding how the English prose styles work as gateways to liberal discourses on statehood, national health, economy, politics, and sexuality, the essay argues that “Oxen”’s stylistic evolution reveals ways in which the body politic and the physical body are entangled through life processes. The episode’s culminating style of the modern idiom, its famous contemporary noisy English vernaculars, points to an avant-garde orientation of Joyce evolution. The “crushing” prose of these corrupted vernaculars suggests a symbolic rupture within the texture of the social and raises several questions: How far does Joyce take his literary experiment and whether he is marching in step with the artistic revolutionaries of his time or offers a trial run for something completely different? By foregrounding the episode’s radical aesthetics, its avant-garde tactics and tropes, the essay attempts to understand the rationale behind “Oxen”’s stylistic evolution and its raising of modernity’s socially disruptive forces.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
biopolitics, liberalism, sexuality, the avant-garde and the body
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-155580OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-155580DiVA, id: diva2:1201225
Available from: 2018-04-25 Created: 2018-04-25 Last updated: 2018-06-04

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CiteExportLink to record
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