Beyond Redemption: The Crisis of Sovereignty and The Return of MelancholyPublic
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This dissertation investigates the relationship between melancholy and the development of American and Iranian literary discourses as responses to the crisis of postwar sovereignty. While situating itself against the complicated backdrop of US/Iran relations since the Second World War, it explores the impact of religion on the formation of political sovereignty and on representations of the self in the novels of Thomas Pynchon, Simin Daneshvar, and Houshang Golshiri. Chapter 1, which focuses on Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, explores the melancholy of those who are excluded from the liberal narrative of American sovereignty. Chapter 2 shows how in Daneshvar’s Savūshūn the cry of mourning for the loss of Iranian sovereignty is harnessed into a cry for revolutionary action. Chapter 3 reveals how Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon underlines a sense of political responsibility and guilt for the exclusions from the American narrative of sovereignty through the use of disjointed melancholic time. Chapter 4 analyzes how the melancholic drive of Golshiri’s novels turns his writing into a form of jolted continuity, which undercuts not only the faith in the figure of sovereign-savior but also the total closure of meaning. Chapter 5 argues that in Pynchon’s novels paranoia functions not as a narrative technique but as a technique to overtake the anxieties of finitude and to reinforce the fiction of sovereign self. “Beyond Redemption” uses melancholy as an analytical concept to reveal the mechanisms of exclusion within and without the narrative of sovereignty so as to illuminate these writers’ engagement with melancholy is not a desperate or passive withdrawal from the world but rather the very basis of political action.
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