Plotting the Plot: The Plot Unravelled
by Dr Kirsty Pennicard-Wood
Abstract PhD Thesis Dr Kirsty Pennicard-Wood
Congratulations to CIRCL PhD student Kirsty Pennicard-Wood for completing her PhD and viva on 25-03-2011 with her thesis on ‘Plotting the Plot: The Plot Unravelled’. Supervisor: Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein. Viva External Examiner: Dr Josie Dolan, University of West of England, Internal Examiner: Dr Nicola Bradbury.
Abstract of thesis
My point of departure for this thesis is Jacques Derrida’s article ‘Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’, which argues that structure exists as a concept that has both come to represent a concept of construction, but is also something that is itself constructed. I consider ‘plot’ under this same premise – as a term that has come to represent a notion of structure, but is also something that is in turn structured through a diversity of discourses. This thesis does not look to define what plot is, but rather considers a variety of constructions of plot that exist within literary discourse. Through reading discourse about plot, this thesis raises as many questions as it answers. However, in deconstructing some of the narratives that surround plot, this thesis opens a debate about the investment of these narratives and their claims. Within this thesis I consider Aristotle’s Poetics in its construction of plot as an integral structure to the tragic text constituted as an authorial creation. I also critique Gerard Genette’s Narrative Discourse: an Essay in Method, whereby I read concepts of tension between plot as something that is created by both an authorial and a readerly identity. Eric Bulson’s text Novels, Maps, Modernity: The Spatial Imagination, 1850-2000 is also read for its construction of a reading identity that is structured by the text that it reads. Other readings within this thesis include Mikhail Bakhtin’s essay ‘Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel’; Susan Honeyman’s Elusive Childhood: Impossible Representations in Modern Fiction, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy; and Clifford Geertz’s Works and Lives: the Anthropologist as Author. Each reading draws out another discourse on plot, revealing it to be a term that is not singular in definition, but is rather constructed in multifarious ways within a myriad of discourses.
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