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Textual SubjectivityThe Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics$
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A. C. Spearing

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187240

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187240.001.0001

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Subjectivity and Textuality

Subjectivity and Textuality

(p.1) 1 Subjectivity and Textuality
Textual Subjectivity

A. C. Spearing (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter defines the book’s theme as the linguistic encoding of subjectivity in medieval narratives and lyrics, as opposed to their representation of subjectivity or its disputed history. It argues the need for narrative theorists and medievalists to bring together studies usually conducted in isolation. It emphasizes the textual nature of medieval culture and its survival as texts, not voices. Derrida’s critique of the assumption that writing represents speech is used to question the common-sense view that consciousness must precede narrative. Theories of narratorless narrative (Hamburger, Kuroda, Banfield) are examined, while Hamburger’s fiction/reality distinction is questioned in the light of the medieval expectation of retelling and of the shifting deixis of pre-Chaucerian prologues. Modernist deconstruction of selves as the basis of texts is seen as reversing the process that led Chaucer to begin suggesting the priority of consciousness to narrative.

Keywords:   consciousness, deixis, Derrida, fiction, medieval, narratorless, textuality

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