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The Language of Self

Strategies of Subjectivity in the Novels of Don DeLillo

Phill Pass

The Language of Self explores the portrayal of subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s fiction. It proposes that his characters’ conception of self is determined by the tension between a desire for connection and a longing for isolation. The particular form taken by this language of self is shown to be both shaped by, and in turn formed through, an interaction with larger, social constructions of agency. In order to explore this phenomenon from both an individual and a social perspective, the author undertakes detailed close readings of DeLillo’s texts, informed by nuanced theoretical analysis which stresses the symbiotic interaction of social and individual context.
This method informs the structure of the book, which is divided into three sections. The first, entitled ‘Dasein’, conceptualises how DeLillo’s characters navigate between isolation and connection, shaping a particular enunciation of self which reflects the balance they strike between self and other. ‘Phenomenology’, the second section, explores how DeLillo’s treatment of language and image alters this balance and examines the sustainability of each enunciation of self. The final section, ‘Das Man’, addresses how the language of self shapes, and is shaped by, a wider social context.

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apophasis 33–8 The Cloud of Unknowing 33–8 Baudrillard, Jean 101–20, 136, 163–4, 184–8 ‘The Precession of Simulacra’ 101–3, 108–9, 113, 136, 163 The Spirit of Terrorism and Other Essays 184–8 Benjamin, Walter 85–94, 107–13 Boxall, Peter 9–10, 63–7, 174–5 Cixous, Hélène 82–5 Cowart, David 7–8, 71, 105 DeLillo, Don Americana 26–8, 41–9, 80, 103–7 David Bell 26–8, 41–9, 103–7 the dream of the third person singular 47–9, 105–7 The Body Artist 95–8, 115–20 Cosmopolis 135–43 End Zone 73–4, 75–85 Falling Man 98–100, 186–94 Libra 195–7 Mao II 14–17, 31–3, 52–60 Bill Gray 31–3, 52–60 Karen Janney 14–17 Scott Martineau 32, 53–60 The Names 90–4 Players 74–5, 88–9 Running Dog 28–30, 49–52 Glen Selvy 28–30, 49–52 Moll Robbins 50–1 Underworld 33–8, 60–7, 95, 124–35, 147–81, 197–203 baseball 36–8 Brian Glassic 172–5 Donna 60–3 Eric Demming 128–35, 147–62 Erica Demming 128–35, 152–3, 159–62 J. Edgar Hoover 163–72 Klara Sax 135, 175–81 Marian Shay 34–5, 63–7 Nick Shay 33–8, 60–7, 95 Rick Demming 159–62 Texas Highway Killer 197–203 White Noise 109–13 Edelman, Lee 145–7, 149–56 see also Sinthomosexuality Foucault, Michel 152,...

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