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Taking Note: Twentieth-Century Literary Annotation and the Crisis of Reading

Atherton, Andrew (2017) Taking Note: Twentieth-Century Literary Annotation and the Crisis of Reading. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

The aim of this project is to provide a detailed reconsideration of the role that literary annotation plays in twentieth-century literature. The need for such a reconsideration stems from the fact that despite some of the last century's most enduring and significant works using either endnotes or footnotes, there has been very little scholarship written about it. Thus, T.S. Eliot's use of endnotes in The Waste Land or David Jones's footnotes to The Anathemata or David Foster Wallace's use of annotation in Infinite Jest have all been largely overlooked. This dissertation is an attempt to redress what I take to be a regrettable gap in twentieth-century literary studies. In order to do this, I examine how my chosen writers register through the figure of the note wider debates around notions of information overload, the necessity of the reader expending effort, and the cultivation of desired epistemic and interpretative strategies. Thus, I elevate the note to a point where it is far more culturally, critically, and artistically compelling than has previously been acknowledged. In other words, I aim to demonstrate that certain key works of literature within the twentieth century could not have realised their respective projects without the structural technique of annotation. Moving as it does from one end of the century to the other, the dissertation also traces the inheritance of an annotative template as a textual mechanism for indexing and responding to a crisis of reading borne out of the shifting literary landscape of the twentieth century. The figure of the note is as such central to the wider literary aims of my chosen texts and to disregard it, as has so often been the case, is therefore to misunderstand the text to which they have been attached.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Herd, David
Uncontrolled keywords: annotation, modernism, postmodernism, footnotes, endnotes, reading
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2018 15:10 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 04:09 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/65964 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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