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Transport, Technology and Ideology in the Work of Will Self

GLEGHORN, JAMES,MARTIN (2017) Transport, Technology and Ideology in the Work of Will Self. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study explores depictions of various modes of transport in the fiction and non-fiction of the author and journalist Will Self (1961- ). These modes of transport range from the mechanical (cars, planes) to the physical (walking), but the argument at the centre of this thesis is that they all form valuable metaphors when it comes to analysing the inherent link between the significant technological developments of the last century, and the mental health of both individuals and collective societies that use and come to rely on said technologies.

This study argues that Self’s depictions of transport form a criticism of the implicit commercial and ideological systems that exist within these technologies, and that both transport and other developments such as social media and the internet play an insidious and active role in the ways that users experience place and time. In addition to this, the study examines the impacts that these technologies have – in Self's view – on the broader contemporary literary and cultural landscape (drawing on the influences upon and contemporaries of Self, such as J. G. Ballard, W. G Sebald and Martin Amis), and even the individual capacity for imagination.

It will also argue that transcending these entrapping ideological systems is extremely complex, and that Self’s fiction is a literary counterpart to this form of complexity, through both his manipulation of language and his highly imaginative but also often disturbing subject matter. To this end, the main body of the thesis draws on close literary analysis of some of Self’s major novels and short fiction – works that more explicitly focus on transport – to demonstrate how these ideological, technological and literary complexities become an important source of literary innovation in light of what Self believes is a simplistic contemporary culture.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Will Self, Transport, Technology, Contemporary Literature, Mobilities
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 May 2017 10:17

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