Campus clowns and the canon: David Lodge's campus fiction
1993 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
This is a study of David Lodge's campus novels: The British Museum is Falling Down, Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work. Unlike most previous studies of Lodge's work, which have focussed on literary-theoretical issues, this dissertation .aims at unravelling some of the ideological impulses that inform his campus fiction. A basic assumption of this study is that literature is never disinterested; it is always an ideological statement about the world. Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of the dialogical relationship between self and other provides a means of investigating the interaction between author and reader; central to this project is Bakhtin's notion of how to reach an independent, ideological consciousness through the active scrutiny of the authoritative discourses surrounding us.
First, a brief historical outline of the campus novel is presented, together with analyses of three representative works. Lodge's novels are thereafter discussed in relation to his own literary-theoretical work, and also in relation to his attempts at bridging the gap between the academy and the world outside. The chapter demonstrates how, as a result of this bridging posture, Lodge's works, critical and fictional, become increasingly intertwined. Yet, despite Lodge’s avowed intentions, for readers without prior access to the literary canon his elaborate intertextual games fail to bridge the gap.
The discussion of Lodge's first three campus novels novels shows how the authority of the Church, the literary canon, and established societal norms, is seemingly challenged in these texts. Lodge has himself invited a Bakhtinian reading of his novels, but this study demonstrates that his fiction, allegedly both dialogical and camivalesque, to a large extent advocates an ideology that is diametrically opposed to such an activity. Reigning over these novels is a mood of gloom and passive resignation—a mood which is the very antithesis of Bakhtin's insistence on activity and the camivalesque positive attitude to change and renewal. In the discussion of the last novel, it is furthermore demonstrated that Lodge's use of stereotypes wrecks any dialogical potential, and that the extended intertextual play evinces clear anti-feminist and élitist patterns.
Lodge’s campus fiction confirms the myth of the isolated Ivory Tower. The attempted bridging of the gap between the academy and the outside world is not accomplished. For most readers his texts remain one-dimensional portrayals of irrelevant campus clowns.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1993. , 139 p.
Umeå studies in the humanities, ISSN 0345-0155 ; 115
campus, ideology, authoritative discourse, internally persuasive discourse, intertext, cnaon, church, status quo, stereotype
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111103ISBN: 91-7174-831-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-111103DiVA: diva2:868106
1993-12-18, Humanisthuset, Hörsal G, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Bergvall, Åke, Dr.
Diss. Umeå : Umeå universitet, 19932015-11-112015-11-052015-11-11Bibliographically approved