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Textual forensics: Vision, death and the writing subject

Angel, Maria (1997) Textual forensics: Vision, death and the writing subject. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis is about forms of authorisation and the figure of the author. I develop an analytic framework which examines the relation of authorisation to the theme of specular evidence. Through an analysis of the constitutive role that metaphors and regimes of vision play in particular textual examples, I show how the figuring of textual authority, particularly in respect to the figures of the author, critic, and writer, is caught up in a broad play of discursive forms of cultural evidencing which are subject to particular forms of imaging and regimes of vision. My interest lies in determining the discursive conditions by which texts image or envision forms of authorisation. My task, then, has been to introduce complexity into the relationship between knowledge, writing and imaging. This has involved a re-evaluation of vision as something other than a transparent conduit for the perception of textual evidence, taking it instead as something which productively informs that which it apprehends. I am aware that my own critical endeavours are caught within, and often rely upon, the very processes I seek to analyse and critique.

Drawing on the themes and spectacles of manuscript illumination, corporeal punishment, early print technology, and cinema, the first two chapters develop an historical relationship between the image, text, and the anatomical body. Chapters three and four are concerned with analysing the specular predication of the textual body in the age of 'the death of the author'. These two chapters trace an optical genealogy of the text, theorising the author, critic, and writer as optical rather than purely linguistic categories. Chapters five and six apply principles of critical imaging to the authorisation of particular works.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
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Supervisor(s): Sofoulis, Zoë and Lucy, Niall
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