Title of Abstract

Pym’s Loss of a Center and His Subsequent Destabilization: A Reflection of Humankind

Session Title

Humanities: Emotions of Humanity within Literature

Faculty Mentor

Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.; bickfordl@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.

Abstract

Many critics argue over the purpose of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket with assertions that range from it being a novel defined by its historical references to sea adventures, to it being a satire piece of travel narratives, to it showing Poe’s racist agenda. However, a unique perspective taken up lately on Poe’s novel has a more postmodern emphasis, claiming that Pym’s journey shows the breakdown of meaning of reality. My argument rests among these but does so through the lens of Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction. I claim that Pym’s experiences of disaster destroy the stability of his transcendental signified of “being” and thus undermine his definition and privilege of “white civilization.” An analysis of Pym through this lens yields the conclusion that Pym’s repression that his transcendental signified is inadequate brings him to the point he enters a neurotic state to affirm it. This ultimately reflects the power of the Western logocentric desire within the reader. Thus, through a deconstructive lens another possible purpose of Poe’s novel is uncovered.

Additional Fields About Your Abstract

Please check this if you understand.

Course Assignment

ENGL 300 - Bickford

Other Presentations/Performances

South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference, Online, November 2020

Start Date

16-4-2021 3:15 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 16th, 3:15 PM

Pym’s Loss of a Center and His Subsequent Destabilization: A Reflection of Humankind

Many critics argue over the purpose of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket with assertions that range from it being a novel defined by its historical references to sea adventures, to it being a satire piece of travel narratives, to it showing Poe’s racist agenda. However, a unique perspective taken up lately on Poe’s novel has a more postmodern emphasis, claiming that Pym’s journey shows the breakdown of meaning of reality. My argument rests among these but does so through the lens of Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction. I claim that Pym’s experiences of disaster destroy the stability of his transcendental signified of “being” and thus undermine his definition and privilege of “white civilization.” An analysis of Pym through this lens yields the conclusion that Pym’s repression that his transcendental signified is inadequate brings him to the point he enters a neurotic state to affirm it. This ultimately reflects the power of the Western logocentric desire within the reader. Thus, through a deconstructive lens another possible purpose of Poe’s novel is uncovered.