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Beyond imagining: sex and sexuality in Philip Roth’s Kepesh novels

Beyond imagining: sex and sexuality in Philip Roth’s Kepesh novels
Beyond imagining: sex and sexuality in Philip Roth’s Kepesh novels
This thesis examines three novels written by the Jewish-American author Philip Roth, collectively known as the Kepesh novels: The Breast (1972), The Professor of Desire (1977) and The Dying Animal (2001). Based on a desire to re-evaluate the critical position of these works within Roth’s oeuvre, this thesis offers an analysis of each novel based upon a critical methodology supplied by an examination of the role of fetishism in psychoanalytic theory.

Fetishism, an ambiguous theory within psychoanalysis, has been adapted and deployed by a range of post-Freudian theorists for a number of purposes. Utilising fetishism as both a theme found in these novels and a methodology for their interpretation, this thesis attempts to form a new means of analysing these novels that pays heed to the different ways that they combine themes within the trilogy. With this diversity in mind, this thesis explores the reception of the Kepesh novels in periodicals and academic research, as well as using a range of theoretical strategies and comparative readings with other literary works. This supports and influences close readings of each text in turn.

This thesis argues that these novels are dependent upon Roth’s subversive attitude towards the protagonists that narrate them. This is enabled by the variety of themes used by Roth in each text, but is most telling in his approach to describing debate and communication within each novel. This thesis incorporates and advocates for the playfulness that these novels demonstrate; they can thus be re-examined as works whose perspectives on sexuality are more nuanced than has previously been acknowledged.
Witcombe, Mike
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Witcombe, Mike
b884cbab-3c68-494b-bae7-c71660c18823
Reiter, Andrea
2d3fad43-ac1d-4ec7-bd9f-0b9168492a84

Witcombe, Mike (2015) Beyond imagining: sex and sexuality in Philip Roth’s Kepesh novels. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 245pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis examines three novels written by the Jewish-American author Philip Roth, collectively known as the Kepesh novels: The Breast (1972), The Professor of Desire (1977) and The Dying Animal (2001). Based on a desire to re-evaluate the critical position of these works within Roth’s oeuvre, this thesis offers an analysis of each novel based upon a critical methodology supplied by an examination of the role of fetishism in psychoanalytic theory.

Fetishism, an ambiguous theory within psychoanalysis, has been adapted and deployed by a range of post-Freudian theorists for a number of purposes. Utilising fetishism as both a theme found in these novels and a methodology for their interpretation, this thesis attempts to form a new means of analysing these novels that pays heed to the different ways that they combine themes within the trilogy. With this diversity in mind, this thesis explores the reception of the Kepesh novels in periodicals and academic research, as well as using a range of theoretical strategies and comparative readings with other literary works. This supports and influences close readings of each text in turn.

This thesis argues that these novels are dependent upon Roth’s subversive attitude towards the protagonists that narrate them. This is enabled by the variety of themes used by Roth in each text, but is most telling in his approach to describing debate and communication within each novel. This thesis incorporates and advocates for the playfulness that these novels demonstrate; they can thus be re-examined as works whose perspectives on sexuality are more nuanced than has previously been acknowledged.

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Published date: March 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Modern Languages

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Local EPrints ID: 376467
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/376467
PURE UUID: b97bff0d-4b61-455e-91b2-9f60076ef2b0

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Date deposited: 03 Jul 2015 11:31
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:09

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