The failure to act: acting subjects and passive bodies in transgressive fiction

Hoey, Molly (2015) The failure to act: acting subjects and passive bodies in transgressive fiction. Journal of Comparative Media Arts, 2015. pp. 1-16.

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Abstract

While subversive texts have existed since antiquity Transgressive Fiction consolidated as a distinct genre during the early 1990s with its particular dedication to the transgression of both social and textual taboos. Works such as Dennis Cooper's Frisk, Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, Will Self's Cock and Bull and My Idea of Fun, A.M Homes' End of Alice and Urs Allemann's Babyficker have come to exemplify this period. The manipulative nature of transgressive texts is rooted in their ability to present themselves as acting subjects. Throughout the reading of a transgressive text the reader and the text exchange position; fulfilling roles as both acting subjects and passive bodies. However, if transgressive texts appear to act they do so without ever truly achieving their supposed intentions. Transgressive texts are often defended on the basis of what Anthony Julius has referred to as 'the estrangement defense'; that "artworks exist to shock us into grasping some truth about ourselves, or about the world, or about art itself".[1] However, this case study analyzes claims about transgressive fictions' ability to analyze truths about both metanarrative and the physical body and shows that both claims are ineffectual when considered against the fiction's textual medium. As an acting subject the text attempts to act upon the body of the reader, but any attempt is always unsuccessful as the reader dissects the text through critical analysis, rendering the text 'safe'. Revealing that, at the close of a transgressive text it is the reader which final acts upon the textual body.

Item ID: 39580
Item Type: Article (Scholarly Work)
Keywords: transgressive fiction; estrangement defense; acting subject; textual bodies; erotics of reading; text as subject; reader as object
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution. NonCommercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2016 01:35
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics) @ 30%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200525 Literary Theory @ 40%
22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2203 Philosophy > 220313 Philosophy of Language @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 40%
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