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Beyond the Sign of the Weapon: A Study of Pain in Two Canadian Novels

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Title: Beyond the Sign of the Weapon: A Study of Pain in Two Canadian Novels
Author: Neilson, Shane
Department: School of English and Theatre Studies
Program: Literary Studies / Theatre Studies in English
Advisor: Ferguson, Jade
Abstract: This thesis is an investigation of pain in two contemporary Canadian novels. A difficult subject to broach in society because of its nature as complaint, pain is believed to be a difficult topic of English scholarship because of its evasion of linguistic capture. After an introduction that presents the medical and scientific pain discourse as negative, this thesis applies Elaine Scarry’s ideas concerning the absence of an adequate language of pain to Catherine Bush’s Claire’s Head and Karen Connelly’s The Lizard Cage to demonstrate that representations of pain do occur beyond the sign of the weapon. Emmanuel Levinas’s concept of the inter-human is used to extend Scarry’s ideas around the destructive “language of pain” into a more constructive, creative model. This thesis demonstrates how literary narratives can help readers, including medical practitioners, interpret pain in new ways so as to gain a better understanding of pain as a sensory and emotional experience.
Date: 2014-08
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Embargoed Until: 2099-12-29

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