Date of Award

Fall 2005

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hoeveler, Diane

Second Advisor

Ratcliffe, Krista

Third Advisor

Blair, Amy


This work seeks to isolate and highlight, through the lens of cognitive narratology, several key moments in the development of the relationship between the author and the reader. This study is of particular importance at this point in literary studies because of the nihilistic and ever fragmenting effects of the most influential critical approaches of the 20th century. Arguably, one of the most important movements in literary criticism has been that of deconstruction. An opinion piece by Mark C. Taylor in the October 14, 2004 New York Times on the occasion of Jacques Derrida's death noted, "no thinker has been more deeply misunderstood" and acknowledged that his ideas of deconstruction are "often cited but rarely understood." Certainly, this is not Derrida's fault-but it is necessary to understand that the current intellectual climate spawned by this theory has been highly damaging to not only the study of literature, but to the humanities generally. Taylor's editorial runs on, offering a further defense of Derrida by shifting the 'blame' for this misunderstanding onto Derrida's followers: And yet, supporters on the left and critics on the right have misunderstood this vision. Many of Mr. Derrida's most influential followers appropriated his analyses of marginal writers, works and cultures as well as his emphasis on the importance of preserving differences and respecting others to forge an identity politics that divides the world between the very oppositions that it was Mr. Derrida's mission to undo: black and white, men and women, gay and straight. Betraying Mr. Derrida's insights by creating a culture of political correctness, his self-styled supporters fueled the culture wars that have been raging for more than two decades and continue to frame political debate. Be this as it may, whether accurately or falsely interpreted, there has been a meteoric development of the "cult of difference" in society at large as a result of seeds sown in the name of deconstruction. The result has been a focus on the untouchably individual and personal that has eclipsed the notion of shared experience and the value of human experience...



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