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Durham e-Theses
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Backwards Time: The Rhetoric of Reverse

VIRDEE, DOUGLASS (2020) Backwards Time: The Rhetoric of Reverse. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 07 May 2023.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY).


Is time reversible? The debate is ongoing, and has at times been misunderstood.

This thesis examines the history and philosophy of backwards time, particularly from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, along with its representations and uses in fictional narratives and the argumentation of scientific papers.

Focussing on Lewis Carroll, Vladimir Nabokov and Martin Amis - literary figures preoccupied with time who are interrelated in revealing ways - the thesis draws out the satirical, comic and serious effects of backwards-moving temporal processes. In doing so, it suggests that our conception of time depends in large part upon the modes of reasoning we deploy to make sense of it.

The discussion of the idea of backwards time in this thesis includes a wide range of phenomena (see keywords) to reflect on the broader cultural-historical aspects of ideas about time and to suggest some of the ways in which they impinge on e.g. the moral and political spheres.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:nostalgia; reverse causality; retrospection; retroaction; regression; degeneration; chirality; time travel; mental time travel; rewriting history; memory; backwards explanation; induction; deduction; reason; comprehension; cosmology; paranoia; rationalism; irrationalism; thermodynamics; relativity; moral intuitionism; idealism; linguistic chain; narrative chronology; philosophy of time; logic; backwards time
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 May 2020 12:46

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