Thesis Abstracts

Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Soma Das

‘Reading Time and the Time of Reading’

By Dr Soma Das

Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Soma Das

CIRCL PhD student Soma Das passed her PhD on 13-12-2023 with her PhD thesis on ‘Reading Time and the Time of Reading’. Supervisor: Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein; External Examiner: Dr Nick Lee of Warwick University; Internal Examiner: Dr Sue Walsh.

Abstract of thesis

This thesis questions how time is defined in an interdisciplinary range of texts, from children’s literature to literary theory, philosophy, postcolonial theory, cognitive psychology and physics in order to think through a series of problems and issues with what time is claimed to be; specifically, time’s connection with children and childhood. Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s (1992) arguments, I read how time is defined according to different perspectives: time in such thinking is therefore always something other than time, including, crucially, being also always claimed necessarily in retrospect. I work with Jacqueline Rose’s (1984) related arguments concerning claims to know the child always from another perspective, including the child’s relations to time. I also draw on critical psychologist Erica Burman’s Deconstructing Developmental Psychology (1994), and philosopher Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time (1962), as these different texts enable me to read the differences in ideas of time while also reading the repetition of differences in retrospect. The implications of such arguments are worked through in relation to texts by the children’s literature theorist Maria Tatar (1999) and historian Ernst Bloch (1999) on myth and folktale; developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1969), physicist Carlo Rovelli (2015; 2018), author Virginia Woolf (2004), author Jhumpa Lahiri (2004), post-colonial theorist Pheng Cheah (2016) and educator Geoffrey Williams (1999).
These ideas are analysed in order to think through what is at stake in the claims made about time and the ostensible educational intentions or purpose of children’s literature to which these notions lead.