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Mind the Gap: Overcoming Dualities in Motor City, USA

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Date Issued:
2008
Abstract/Description:
Contemporary thinking, bound as it is to a dualistic paradigm, inherently privileges one side of the duality over the other. Feminists - most notably in this dissertation, Val Plumwood - argue that we must overcome these privileged dualities and reconstruct a way of knowing that recognizes difference while not granting privilege to one side or the other. Dualities result from the modernist and postmodernist desire to name and control. One of the reasons that we cannot transcend this desire is because we have lost our connection to our environment. Examining novels and films set in Detroit, Michigan, as well as coming to terms with that city's history, will allow us to find places where clairvoyant messengers can commune with the environment and offer us an insight into ways of overcoming the radical "othering" ofduality. This project begins by examining the literary history of urban fiction in the United States and pointing to the tradition of duality and some of its surface problems. Then, the project begins to construct a history of Detroit that exposes the complex layers of duality that have informed the city's growth and ultimately led to the 1967 riots. Next, the argument suggests the importance of fiction and film in understanding modern dualities. The first fictive example, Maureen, from Joyce Carol Oates's novel them is an example of a potential clairvoyant. However, bound as she is to a postmodern existence, Maureen experiences her "other'' but fails to provide a didactic example of non-dualistic thinking. Ultimately, postmodernism and postmodern/post riot Detroit only mystify and compound the problems associated with modern dualities. Likewise, Jeffrey Eugenides transgendered hero/ine Calliope (Middlesex) experiences her natural "other" and allows us to call into question the traditional binaries we use to create our understandings of gender. Both characters retell their experience and re-present their bodies in an attempt to bridge dualities and overcome their "otherness." Finally, the dissertation finds a representation of contemporary Detroit, Eminem's 8 Mile, and argues that violence and shame are at the root of dualities and ultimately distract us from overcoming both fictional and real examples of the oppressive "othering" which results from a culture steeped in dualistic thinking.
Title: Mind the Gap: Overcoming Dualities in Motor City, USA.
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Name(s): Houser, Tai Lynden
Blakemore, Steven, Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2008
Date Issued: 2008
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 168 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Contemporary thinking, bound as it is to a dualistic paradigm, inherently privileges one side of the duality over the other. Feminists - most notably in this dissertation, Val Plumwood - argue that we must overcome these privileged dualities and reconstruct a way of knowing that recognizes difference while not granting privilege to one side or the other. Dualities result from the modernist and postmodernist desire to name and control. One of the reasons that we cannot transcend this desire is because we have lost our connection to our environment. Examining novels and films set in Detroit, Michigan, as well as coming to terms with that city's history, will allow us to find places where clairvoyant messengers can commune with the environment and offer us an insight into ways of overcoming the radical "othering" ofduality. This project begins by examining the literary history of urban fiction in the United States and pointing to the tradition of duality and some of its surface problems. Then, the project begins to construct a history of Detroit that exposes the complex layers of duality that have informed the city's growth and ultimately led to the 1967 riots. Next, the argument suggests the importance of fiction and film in understanding modern dualities. The first fictive example, Maureen, from Joyce Carol Oates's novel them is an example of a potential clairvoyant. However, bound as she is to a postmodern existence, Maureen experiences her "other'' but fails to provide a didactic example of non-dualistic thinking. Ultimately, postmodernism and postmodern/post riot Detroit only mystify and compound the problems associated with modern dualities. Likewise, Jeffrey Eugenides transgendered hero/ine Calliope (Middlesex) experiences her natural "other" and allows us to call into question the traditional binaries we use to create our understandings of gender. Both characters retell their experience and re-present their bodies in an attempt to bridge dualities and overcome their "otherness." Finally, the dissertation finds a representation of contemporary Detroit, Eminem's 8 Mile, and argues that violence and shame are at the root of dualities and ultimately distract us from overcoming both fictional and real examples of the oppressive "othering" which results from a culture steeped in dualistic thinking.
Identifier: FA00000984 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2008.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
Subject(s): Detroit (Mich)--In literature
Detroit (Mich)--History--21st century--Criticism and interpretation
Symbolism in literature
Postmodernism--Psychological aspects
Philosophy of nature
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00000984
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.