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“Shifting Boundaries and Unfixing Fixities”: Boundary Crossing in Pauline Melville’s The Ventriloquist’s Tale
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
Responsible organisation
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A central theme in Pauline Melville’s novel, The Ventriloquist’s Tale, is the question of endogamy and exogamy, with the opposing alternatives embodied in Melville’s characters. This theme has received much attention in the critical commentaries generated by the novel, with a prevailing number of critics claiming that Melville proposes endogamy as the only option for indigenous communities to remain intact. However, such an argument overlooks the significant fact that Melville’s characters are always already the offspring of exogamous encounters, through which a multiplicity of boundaries have been permeated. Furthermore, the spatial motifs developed in the novel can be seen to undermine commonly accepted delimitations of supposedly homogenous groups, the nation-state constituting the prime example, and this in turn profoundly alters the notion of mixing. Consequently, contending that Melville even enters a debate on endogamy and exogamy stems from a predisposition to see the world in other terms than those Melville sets out in her novel. The nature of boundaries and borders in Melville’s fictitious world are therefore explored using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities as a framework. This examination shows that the novel undermines the notion of the nation-state as a homogenous entity and reveals a global structure that dictates and drives interaction on a global scale. Consequently, instead of a debate on exogamy, we see in the novel an exploration and dismantling of notions of borders, boundaries and barriers between individuals and groups of people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 20 p.
Keyword [en]
Nationalism, Globalization, Boundaries, Borders
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8677OAI: diva2:175194
2009-01-21, 00:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-03-19 Created: 2004-01-01 Last updated: 2009-03-19Bibliographically approved

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