Explorations of the Unconscious in Modernist Women’s Works

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This essay focuses on the construction of unconscious processes of the mind in narrative fiction, particularly in the work of modernist women writers. Bringing together Dorrit Cohn’s insights on the presentation of the unconscious, cognitive narratology, and phenomenological and feminist perspectives, we propose an approach for the narratological study of the unconscious that centers not on the “hidden depths” of fictional minds but rather on the way the unconscious “spreads out” into the social and material dimensions of storyworlds. Our method of reading highlights the techniques through which the modernist texts guide their readers to pay attention to the enactment of the unconscious in the characters’ bodily and intersubjective engagements and action, and in the spaces constructed in the stories. Moreover, we show the ways the modernist writers’ explorations of the unconscious reflect and challenge the restrictive socio-cultural environments in which the stories are situated.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)304-321
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6122 Literature studies

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