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Underwords

Re-reading the Subtexts of Modernity

Alec Charles

What takes place when we examine texts close-up? The art of close reading, once the closely guarded province of professional literary critics, now underpins the everyday processes of forensic scrutiny conducted by those brigades of citizen commentators who patrol the realms of social media.

This study examines at close quarters a series of key English texts from the last hundred years: the novels of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, the plays of Samuel Beckett, the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Philip Larkin, the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the tweets of Donald Trump. It digs beneath their surface meanings to discover microcosmic ambiguities, allusions, ironies and contradictions which reveal tensions and conflicts at the heart of the paradox of patriarchal history. It suggests that acts of close reading may offer radical perspectives upon the bigger picture, as well as the means by which to deconstruct it. In doing so, it suggests an alternative to a classical vision of cultural progress characterised by irreconcilable conflicts between genders, genres and generations.

BIC Classifications

  • Literature & literary studies (D)
    • Prose: non-fiction (DN)
      • Reportage & collected journalism (DNJ)
      • Speeches (DNS)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary theory (DSA)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
        • Literary studies: from c 1900 - (DSBH)
  • Society & social sciences (J)
    • Society & culture: general (JF)
      • Cultural studies (JFC)
        • Popular culture (JFCA)
      • Media studies (JFD)
        • TV & society (JFDT)
    • Politics & government (JP)
      • Political structure & processes (JPH)
        • Political leaders & leadership (JPHL)
  • Computing & information technology (U)
    • Digital lifestyle (UD)

BISAC Classifications

  • Business & Economics (BUS)
    • BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Decision-Making & Problem Solving (BUS019000)
  • Literary Criticism (LIT)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General (LIT004020)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh (LIT004120)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / European / French (LIT004150)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / European / German (LIT004170)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / European / Italian (LIT004200)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / Russian & Former Soviet Union (LIT004240)
    • LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory (LIT006000)
  • Performing Arts (PER)
    • Television (PER010)
      • PERFORMING ARTS / Television / General (PER010000)
  • Social Science (SOC)
    • SOCIAL SCIENCE / Customs & Traditions (SOC005000)

THEMA Classifications

  • Biography, Literature & Literary studies (D)
    • Biography & non-fiction prose (DN)
      • Reportage & collected journalism (DNP)
      • Speeches (DNS)
    • Literature: history & criticism (DS)
      • Literary theory (DSA)
      • Literary studies: general (DSB)
        • Literary studies: c 1900 to c 2000 (DSBH)
        • Literary studies: from c 2000 (DSBJ)
  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Society & culture: general (JB)
      • Cultural & media studies (JBC)
        • Cultural studies (JBCC)
          • Popular culture (JBCC1)
        • Media studies (JBCT)
          • Media studies: Internet, digital media & society (JBCT1)
          • Media studies: TV & society (JBCT2)
    • Politics & government (JP)
      • Political structure & processes (JPH)
        • Political leaders & leadership (JPHL)