Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Boly, John

Second Advisor

Su, John

Third Advisor

Flack, Leah


This dissertation re-situates the grotesque in a critical tradition that emphasizes its function as a liberating force, rather than its traditional role as an arouser of terror and amusement. I then apply the grotesque liberation to the High Modern literary environment of Britain in order to reveal the grotesque dimensions of this period. To accomplish these goals of re-situating the grotesque, and applying the grotesque to High Modernism, I create a so-called "Grotesque System of Liberation." This system consists of three stages (the Symbolic, Real, and Non-Symbolic Symbolic) that trace a specific text's progress from a state of illusory stability and security, to a state of grotesque destabilization, to a final state of grotesque freedom and liberation. I analyze the grotesque system in High Modern texts by T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land), D.H. Lawrence (esp. "The Ship of Death"), and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), and aid this analysis with the application of a series of textual markers and linguistic features to these works. Such textual markers and linguistic features help reveal the specific stages of the grotesque system at work in a text. My dissertation ultimately accomplishes two important tasks. It posits a new understanding of the grotesque as a force for liberation from illusory sources of control and power. By examining this new understanding of the grotesque in British High Modernism, it also reveals the grotesqueness of this literary period, or its use of the grotesque as a device for sustaining a state of liberating division and incompleteness.