"Amsolookly kersse": Clothing in "Finnegans Wake"

Catherine Simpson Kalish, Marquette University


This study analyzes the images of clothing that James Joyce presents in his complex novel, Finnegans Wake . I systematically evaluate the clothing worn by each of the characters in the Earwicker family in order to evaluate character, plot, structure, and how to approach Joyce's most complicated text. I use Mikhail Bakhtin's idea of Heteroglossia, or the layering of language, in order to understand the different levels of meaning that Joyce incorporates. I use rhetorical theory, specifically, the relationship between the author, audience, and text as a paradigm for understanding clothing as a visual form of rhetoric. This in-depth study of clothing provides readers with a new way of understanding Joyce's most complex text. Whereas critics often see the characters as conflated, an examination of what each character wears reveals distinct personalities. Furthermore, clothing is a subject that allows for discussion of class, gender, politics, age, ethics, identity, art, and even religion in conjunction with each of these characters. This dissertation relies on close readings of the images of clothing that Joyce presents. While it is impossible to address the descriptions Joyce uses without addressing the intricacies of his language, my thesis goes beyond addressing his unique style, or merely cataloging instances of clothing. I examine the different layers of meaning that Joyce crafted, and address Joyce's descriptions of clothing in order to understand the way his representations of clothing serve as a critique of the characters that produce, wear, and identify with them.

Recommended Citation

Kalish, Catherine Simpson, ""Amsolookly kersse": Clothing in "Finnegans Wake"" (2006). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3210966.