Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Timothy Erwin

Second Committee Member

Beth Rosenberg

Third Committee Member

Emily Setina

Fourth Committee Member

Susanna Newbury

Number of Pages

109

Abstract

My research has shown that it is typical of the mundane to be overlooked. The mundane spools out continuously before us unheeded in the form of tasks accomplished almost without our notice. In moment of pause, we look and are overwhelmed with a level of detail and experience which, relieved of the typical haze of inattention, is practically foreign to us. As a student of literature, I’ve discovered the rich exchange between the depiction and the description of mundane objects even though the two are more often treated separately. My observations and arguments below seek to bridge that division by taking an interdisciplinary approach to the aesthetics of the mundane and looking for interconnections, that is by, using each discipline to pry open the other. Inherent within the mundane is the presumption of an object or action free from pretense or affectation – in a word, something genuine. In taking up the subject of the mundane, both writer and visual artist seek to peel back the sociological coating and reveal an instance of raw unmediated human experience - the glistening kernel of the genuine. Pulling on the thread of the genuine woven into the mundane, my thesis describes key points in three literary case studies in which the mundane is used to access the genuine: the use of domestic tasks by Jane Austen to both comment on and locate genuine sensibility; the search for the genuine in poetry located within commonplace objects by Marianne Moore; and lastly Karl Ove Knausgaard’s determined autobiographical record sifting for intrinsic substance seeks the genuine within mundane acts of life.

Keywords

aesthetification of everyday; conversation piece; Duane Hanson; Jane Austen; Karl Ove Knausgaard; Marianne Moore

Disciplines

Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Theory and Criticism

Language

English


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