The Need For Interstitial Resistance To Normalizing Power. A Foucauldian And Laingian Reading Of Jennifer Dawson's Fiction Of The 1960s And 170s
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The thesis will show how Jennifer Dawson's fiction of the 1960s and `70s explores the effects of the overlapping dialects of the normalizing discourse, interlocking manifestations of constraint that consolidate themselves through internalization on a continuum that underpins, generates, perpetuates and constitutes perceptions of `the social. ' A Laingian reading of the scapegoating of perceived dissenters, to invalidate or ideally to pre-empt implied dissent and to confirm in their membership the members of `the group, ' will be applied to illuminate the response provoked by Dawson's protagonists, semantically discredited by a continuum of coercive structures that range from the psychiatric to the dynamic of individual relationships. A Foucauldian analysis of the transition of the maintenance of the status quo from identifiable applications of force to democratized formulations of normalizing power to an internalization of the panoptic principle will further contextualize the dilemmas and tensions of Dawson's protagonists, on whose experience Procrustean identities are systematically if subtly imposed. A Foucauldian perspective will be used to cast light on the feelings of deadlock addressed in the novels, where the tendency of power to incite identification makes a locus of authentic resistance elusive and hard to sustain. This perspective will also inform how Dawson's fiction dramatizes the futility of resistance that fails to engage at the level of form and which thus reinforces power's underlying paradigm, even on the sites of its ostensible subversion. The thesis will demonstrate how her novels increasingly reflect the Laingian concept of contextual intelligibility, revealing how the targets and transmission wires of the normalizing drive are fully enmeshed in power's dynamic structure. Foucault's emphasis on the interstitial will be applied to show how, in her fiction of the `70s, the mutual impact of individual lives is portrayed as not only constraining but also as potentially inspiring. Her protagonists move towards a conscious awareness of the need to forge and activate an interstitial perspective, symbolized initially by music, from which to transcend collusion with the normalizing drive. Only when `freedom' is understood to be not a destination but an attitude of mind do her protagonists emerge from the impasse of complicity and develop a receptiveness to genuine exchange and a view of themselves as more than merely acted upon but as potential definers and inhabitants of their experience.
- Theses