Date of Degree
Joshua D. Wilner
Evolution; Object Ontology; Ovid; Proust; Queer Theory
Ovid's Metamorphoses has served as an indispensable text for Modernism, not least for such foundational Modernists as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis. This dissertation examines how these writers characteristically employ Ovidian metamorphoses with a specifically evolutionary inflection, particularly in a post- Darwinian world informed by varying -often authoritarian- notions of biological adaptation, as well as an increasing emphasis on Mendalian genetics as the determining factor in what would become known as the Modern Synthesis in evolutionary theory. Using the theoretical platforms of both Queer Theory and Object Ontology, this dissertation proposes that a more pluralized, less authoritative appreciation of Darwinian change can be seen in the very different Ovidianism of Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, especially in the well-known English translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff. Primarily concerned with the importance of Ovid's idiosyncratic version of the Medusa- Perseus myth to Proust's project, this study argues that Proust's Albertine serves as a singularly Ovidian Medusa, yet one with specifically biological and evolutionary resonances that queer the more rigid and narrow Darwinism of "The Men of 1914."
Mercurio, Gregory John, "Proust's Medusa: Ovid, Evolution, and Modernist Metamorphosis" (2015). CUNY Academic Works.