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Metastory: Imitations of Life

Tuesday 11 March 2014, 2:30 - 3:30pm
Social Sciences and Humanities Library Conference Room, Level 1, Duhig Building (No. 2)
St Lucia Campus [see map]

Click here for the audio recording


Narrative produces effects of life. Narrative theory, however, largely stops short at cataloguing those effects, rather than analysing them and how they got there. So, for example, while everyone agrees that it would be naïve to attribute a narrative utterance directly to an author, the solution offered is often simply to attribute it to a fictional version of an author: a narrator. This term in turn proliferates, so we rapidly get an entire bestiary of reliable and unreliable narrators, overt and covert narrators, self-conscious and omniscient narrators, implied authors, authorial personae, and even that wonderful device the implied narrator, who has no other characteristics than that there is a narrative going on so we’d better attach someone to it. Person as a grammatical device of the telling (first-person, third-person, even occasionally second-person) slides into an imagined personage held responsible for narration: a gnarus, one who knows, or who is supposed to know, or who ironically fails to know. 

How do we analyse narrative in terms that aren’t homuncular and that don’t beg the very question they set out to answer? Are there effects of narrative—even everyday effects, so common that we don’t notice them—that resist homuncular explanations, and that aren’t anchored in a guarantee of knowing?  And what might be the implications of this for thinking about what narratives do, how they circulate, and how they engage us?

This seminar is on a larger project about these questions, which it poses through two principal sets of texts: the psychoanalytic work of Jacques Lacan, and the fictions of James Joyce.


Tony Thwaites teaches and researches modernist literature and literary theory in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History and the University of Queensland, with particular interests in James Joyce and psychoanalytic theory. He is the author of Joycean Temporalities (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2001) and Reading Freud: Psychoanalysis as Cultural Theory (Los Angeles, London: SAGE, 2007), and recently coedited with Judith Seaboyer, Re-reading Derrida: Perspectives on Mourning and its Hospitalities (Lanham MD: Lexington, 2013).


This seminar will be chaired by Associate Professor Mark Andrejevic
Members of the public are invited to attend this free seminar, after which light refreshments will be served.
Enquiries: Rebecca Ralph, Events Co-ordinator
P: (07) 3346 7407 | F: (07) 3365 7184 | E:
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