Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Greg Forter

Abstract

Teleological historical “progress” disintegrates in the temporal disjunctures that structure David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas—disjunctures that collapse past dangers into present concerns and resonate in potential futures. The novel has conceptual resonances with Walter Benjamin’s formulations on historical method, as well as with Linda Hutcheon’s work on postmodern metahistories. Drawing on these theorists, my thesis focuses on “marked” historical agents in the novel. Throughout my analysis, I demonstrate how these marked agents work within the book’s interrupted narrative structure to communicate historical violence and memory from a moment of danger to another one in a temporal collapse. Such a process creates a space for historical violence and memory to pass between and through the victims’ physical bodies and their historically determined technology of transmission. These technologies take different forms, though each disturbs the hegemonic, teleological historical record that the oppressive ideology relies upon. In my analysis, I focus upon two sections of the novel’s interrupted narrative. These sections, “An Orison of Sonmi~451” and “Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Ev’rythin’ After” represent the futuristic portion of Mitchell’s novel. I analyze these sections alongside excerpts of others in order to suggest a reparative methodology for accessing elided histories within our contemporary moment

Available for download on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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