Thomas Wolfe and the genre question: Beyond the "charge of autobiography"

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dc.contributor.advisor Gibbs, Alan en Boyle, Gwendolen Aoife 2014-02-19T16:24:06Z 2014-02-19T16:24:06Z 2013 2013
dc.identifier.citation Boyle, G. A. 2013. Thomas Wolfe and the genre question: Beyond the "charge of autobiography". PhD Thesis, University College Cork. en
dc.description.abstract The North Carolinian author Thomas Wolfe (1900‐1938) has long suffered under the “charge of autobiography,” which lingers to this day in critical assessments of his work. Criticism of Wolfe is frequently concerned with questions of generic classification, but since the 1950s, re‐assessments of Wolfe’s work have suggested that Wolfe’s “autobiographical fiction” exhibits a complexity that merits further investigation. Strides in autobiographical and narrative theory have prompted reconsiderations of texts that defy the artificial boundaries of autobiography and fiction. Wolfe has been somewhat neglected in the canon of American fiction of his era, but deserves to be reconsidered in terms of how he engages with the challenges and contradictions of writing about or around the self. This thesis investigates why Wolfe’s work has been the source of considerable critical discomfort and confusion with regard to the relationship between Wolfe’s life and his writing. It explores this issue through an examination of elements of Wolfe’s work that problematise categorisation. Firstly, it investigates the concept of Wolfe as “storyteller.” It explores the motivations and philosophies that underpin Wolfe’s work and his concept of himself as a teller of tales, and examines aspects of Wolfe’s writing process that have their roots in medieval traditions of the memorisation and recitation of tales. The thesis then conducts a detailed examination of how Wolfe describes the process of transforming his memory into narrative through writing. The latter half of the thesis examines narrative techniques used by Wolfe, firstly analysing his extensive use of the iterative and pseudo‐iterative modes, and then his unusual deployment of narrators and focalization. This project sheds light on elements of Wolfe’s approach to writing and narrative strategies that he employs that have previously been overlooked, and that have created considerable critical confusion with regard to the supposedly “autobiographical” genesis of his work. en
dc.description.sponsorship Irish Research Council (Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme 2012-2013) en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher University College Cork en
dc.rights © 2013, Gwendolen Aoife Boyle en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.subject Thomas Wolfe en
dc.subject Autobiography en
dc.subject Genre en
dc.subject American literature en
dc.title Thomas Wolfe and the genre question: Beyond the "charge of autobiography" en
dc.type Doctoral thesis en
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral en
dc.type.qualificationname PhD (Arts) en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en No embargo required en
dc.description.version Accepted Version
dc.contributor.funder Irish Research Council en
dc.description.status Not peer reviewed en English en
dc.check.type No Embargo Required
dc.check.reason No embargo required en
dc.check.opt-out Not applicable en
dc.thesis.opt-out false
dc.check.embargoformat Not applicable en

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© 2013, Gwendolen Aoife Boyle Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2013, Gwendolen Aoife Boyle
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