• Room for Possibilities: James Joyce and the Rhetorical Work of Fiction

      Brivic, Sheldon, 1943-; Wells, Susan, 1947-; O'Hara, Daniel T., 1948-; Burns, Christy L. (Temple University. Libraries, 2008)
      The resurgence of interest in James Joyce's politics over the past decades reveals Joyce as a politically astute, if not active, writer. But Joyce's politics were never easily codifiable or traceable to a set of ideologically fixed positions. Instead, this dissertation argues, Joyce uses the novel as a space where political debate can be dramatized, and the novel becomes a form of deliberative rhetoric regarding future possibilities. For Joyce, the practices of rhetoric and aesthetics are complexly intertwined and interdependent, though they remain, in many ways, oppositional and contrary. Joyce and other modernist writers often viewed rhetoric as a discursive form that limited rather than expanded possibilities. But at other moments, Joyce presses rhetoric into the service of aesthetic (and vice-versa) since deliberative rhetoric and poetics (as defined by Aristotle) both attend to the possibilities of future action. This dissertation traces Joyce's evolution from a young socialist writer engaged in rhetorical experiments with the essay to his later dramatization of Irish political oratory in Ulysses. Joyce began his career as a self-described "socialist artist" in 1904, but would consciously eschew socialism within the next few years. This dissertation locates Joyce's early political rhetoric in his essay "A Portrait of the Artist" and the abandoned novel Stephen Hero as unconscious remainders reemerging in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In the later text, aesthetics attempt to replace rhetoric as a means of creating radical materialist consciousness, but the later text also re-incorporates and reimagines its earlier incarnations. The earlier texts remain as "symptoms" around which the later is written. Drawing on the definitions of "symptom" in psychoanalytic and Marxist theoretical practice, this dissertation argues that A Portrait of the Artist functions as a text because it includes, even though it attempts to rewrite, the political and rhetorical work of its antecedents. In crafting the "Aeolus" chapter of Ulysses, Joyce returns to the art of rhetoric to dramatize the arguments surrounding Irish labor, politics, and language in 1904 Dublin. Unlike his work in A Portrait of the Artist, Joyce presents oratory as a staging ground for reasoned debate and discussion regarding the future course of Irish history. Whereas rhetoric was an unconscious remainder of socialist politics in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, rhetoric is consciously applied in the work of the characters in the episode who are preoccupied with the consequences of the Irish language movement and middle-class industrialization. This dissertation ultimately argues against positions that view rhetoric as a weak surrogate for aesthetics or as a discursive limitation that must be overcome for aesthetics to produce valuable contemplative effects. Aesthetics in Joyce's fiction has productive rhetorical purposes: to lead readers to contemplate false oppositions, consider the means by which history is produced, to attend to the process of political decision-making, and to deliberate about the consequences of actions.