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Durham e-Theses
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Becoming Nothing, Becoming Everything:
Quantum Posthumanism and the Writing of J.M. Coetzee

AL-HAMED, HAJER,SAUD (2017) Becoming Nothing, Becoming Everything:
Quantum Posthumanism and the Writing of J.M. Coetzee.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


Drawing on both posthumanism and quantum theory, this thesis introduces what I am calling a framework of quantum posthumanism. Based on the epistemic and ontic aspects of entanglement, nonseparability, and becoming, and a reworking of ideas of agency and objectivity, the thesis embarks on an interdisciplinary (entangled) reading of J. M. Coetzee’s texts that seeks to move beyond the current historicist framing of his work. Utilising some of the key concepts and laws from various quantum interpretations, it seeks to show how such concepts effectively deconstruct boundaries between self/other, human/animal, animate/inanimate, body/environment and therefore, by extension to the literary, between fact/fiction, story/history, external/internal, and ultimately author/character/reader/text. The thesis approaches Coetzee’s writing by focussing on the centrality in his fiction of becoming, not only on the level of characters, but also in terms of the agencies of meaning within the literary event (the transactions amongst reader, author, and text). Quantum posthumanism deconstructs the fixed role and positionality of the external observer/Cartesian subject, represented as the reader/author outside the literary event. It proposes the term phenomenon of meaning to address the entanglement of reader/text/author that become part of the meaning they claim to own. The thesis also challenges traditional uses of concepts such as time, linearity, and origin with quantum posthumanist ideas such as multiplicity, emergence, contingency, and parallelism. Finally, through the framework of quantum posthumanism, the thesis hopes to support the argument for the entanglement of human knowledge and the detrimental illusion of the divide between the humanities and the sciences by demonstrating and exemplifying how inevitably entangled human knowledge is.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Coetzee, Quantum Posthumanism, Posthumanism, Quantum Mechanics, Becoming, Emergence, Probability
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:22 Aug 2017 12:21

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