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Advertising and Dublin’s Consumer Culture in James Joyce’s Ulysses

HAYWARD, MATTHEW,CHRISTOPHER (2012) Advertising and Dublin’s Consumer Culture in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis reconsiders James Joyce’s representation of advertising and Dublin’s consumer culture in Ulysses. Against earlier, generalising accounts, it applies a carefully historicising methodology to demonstrate the cultural specificity of Joyce’s engagement. It does so in three ways. To begin with, it establishes that Irish consumerism did not simply follow British advances, but developed in a distinct and inflected fashion. Chapters 2 and 3 show that while Joyce incorporates all of the material characteristics of Dublin’s relatively advanced consumer culture, he downplays its advertising industry, making it appear less developed in 1904 than was historically the case.

Secondly, it analyses the distortions introduced by Joyce’s own historical remove from the consumer culture he depicts. Chapter 4 identifies for the first time the sources of Joyce’s “Advertising” notes from his so-called “Notes on Business and Commerce,” and establishes that his representation of Bloom’s advertising consciousness reflects advances in advertising theory that only got seriously underway in the decade between 1904, when the novel is set, and 1914, when Joyce began to write it.

Finally, having analysed the material and compositional background to Joyce’s portrayal of early-twentieth-century consumerism, this thesis analyses Joyce’s engagement with two of its dominant ideologies. Chapter 5 concentrates on the ‘Lestrygonians’ and ‘Ithaca’ episodes to argue that Joyce lays bare the overdetermined nature of colonial consumption, depicting the naturalisation of British commodities on the Irish market, and contesting the spurious claim to disinterestedness presented by imperial consumerist discourses. Chapter 6 develops intertextual readings of the ‘Nausicaa’ chapter to show that Joyce’s narrative is even more fully comprised of the language of female-oriented advertising than has been recognised. It argues that the chapter responds to a particular ideological complex, in which consumerist imperatives struggled with more conservative patriarchal interests.

Overall, this thesis brings together historical, genetic and intertextual critical approaches to uncover the stylistic and chronological manipulations involved in Joyce’s fictionalisation of early-twentieth-century Irish consumerism. It argues that Ulysses stands as both a reflection of this crucial period of socio-economic change, and a politicised response to its dominant ideological coercions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"James Joyce" "Ulysses" "Modernism" "Irish Studies" "Advertising" "Consumer Culture"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Dec 2012 08:40

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