Free Indirect, or Who is the Subject of the Work of Fiction?

Comparative Literature Lecture Series
Nov 02, 2015
12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Dr. Timothy Bewes, Brown University

For Michel Foucault the subject, subjectivation, is one of the ways in which the event of discourse is regulated and controlled by means of limitations and exclusions – regulated not from outside it but as a procedure internal to discourse. It is in the service of a liberation from those limitations that Foucault urges us to discover, beneath the manifest themes of expression, of plenitude, a principle of “discontinuity.” Discourses, he says in “The Order of Discourse,” “must be treated as discontinuous practices, which cross each other, are sometimes juxtaposed with one another, but can just as well exclude or be unaware of each other.”  In the spirit of Foucault’s inquiry, I will take up the question of the subject of the work of fiction. Through a comparison of two recent uses of free indirect discourse, I will attempt to locate the question of the subject of the work of fiction at the site of the “caesurae” that, says Foucault, “break up the instant and disperse the subject into a plurality of possible positions and functions.”

This lecture is a part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon series, a weekly informal lunchtime gathering of students, faculty, and other members of the University community featuring a presentation on a topic related to any humanities discipline.

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