Adventures at the fringe of thought: William James, Modernism, and disability studies

Marsden, Jill ORCID: 0000-0003-1669-3182 (2017) Adventures at the fringe of thought: William James, Modernism, and disability studies. William James Studies, 13 (1). pp. 92-116.

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This paper argues that new direction can be found for the modernist concept of stream of consciousness by returning to William James’s original insights in Principles of Psychology (1890). I begin by briefly outlining James’s idea of the “stream of thought” in order to identify the nature of its relationship to the literary technique. I go on to show how early readings of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929) were inspired by a modernist cognizance of “stream of consciousness” narration but were “ableist” in their treatment of Benjy Compson’s narrative. More recently, these shortcomings have been redressed from a literary disability studies perspective but not without importing unwarranted humanist values into Faulkner’s presentation of Benjy. To develop a reading of cognitive impairment which is neither dehumanising nor humanist, I return to James’s “stream of thought” to show how it can be reconciled with a recent (Deleuzian) disability studies account of “impersonal life”. The broader aim of this return to James is to explore how aspects of the stream of thought concept such as “fringe awareness” and embodied cognition might supplement and enrich contemporary literary and disability studies.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Bolton School of the Arts > English and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Sarah Taylor
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 09:04
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2019 12:56

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