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A Derridean-Kierkegaardian Interpretation of Writing: Imprisonment and Freedom

Mahan, William M.  "A Derridean-Kierkegaardian Interpretation of Writing: Imprisonment and Freedom." MA thesis University of Oregon, 2013. Print.

My thesis is an argument that writing is a struggle of imprisonment and freedom. I argue that a text gains a certain level of power, such that it controls the writer, reader, and critic alike. Yet at the same time, the work presents all of these people with a possibility of freedom, seducing them in with the task of sharing the text’s ‘secret’ or deeper meaning via indirect communication. This ‘imprisonment’ is voluntary if the reader wishes to engage with the text in a way that opens the text for a revelation of a deeper meaning, unique to each reader. The writer offers his text as a ‘gift’, an idea heavily influenced by Jacques Derrida’s writings in The Gift of Death. I argue that that the presence and absence of the secret is one element of the author’s work, which creates the relationship of confinement and freedom identified with writing. 

Thesis Advisor: Michael J. Stern

Research Status: 
Completed/published
Research Type: 
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