MacDuff Sangam

MacDuff Sangam

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Logique et littérature moderne
This project investigates a series of surprising filiations between the rise of formal logic and the radical innovations of modernist literature, considering how logic impacted Anglophone literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Andrea Henderson has observed that developments in symbolic logic from George Boole to Gottlob Frege shaped the logic of literary symbolism in the Victorian era, most obviously in the work of Lewis Carroll, a mathematics lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford, who wrote The Game of Logic (1886) and Symbolic Logic (1896), alongside his more famous literary works. My study extends this approach into the twentieth century, using archival research to demonstrate the various ways James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot respond to - and react against - the symbolic logic of G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein in major works such as The Waste Land (Eliot, 1922), The Waves (Woolf, 1931) and Finnegans Wake (Joyce, 1939), thereby reflecting on the logic of modernism as a whole.

The first phase of this project was funded by an FNS Early Postdoc Mobility grant (2017-2019), enabling me to conduct archival research at the British Library, the New York Public Library, and the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Sussex, Trinity College Dublin, and Harvard. The second phase is being funded by an FNS Ambizione fellowship (October 2020 - September 2024).

James Joyce, Les épiphanies: édition critique
Together with Morris Beja, Angus McFadzean and Daniel Ferrer, I am co-editing a critical edition of the forty short texts Joyce called "epiphanies" (c.1901-04). These texts are among Joyce's earliest major literary works a series of highly polished miniatures that provide a vivid insight into his art. Composed concurrently with Chamber Music (1907), they are sometimes regarded as lyrical counterparts to Joyce's poetry, but alongside prose-poems, almost half are in dramatic form, and several combine the two modes, providing a bridge to Joyce's fiction. Since Joyce reused thirty of them, often repeatedly, in his subsequent works, right through to Finnegans Wake, they make a significant contribution to major works like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Indeed, to the extent that Joyce's oeuvre can be considered as "one great work" (Tindall), the epiphanies offer a point of origin, providing a paradigm case for genetic scholars to study the development of Joyce's oeuvre.



This project is being conducted in association with L'Institut des textes et manuscrits modernes (http://www.item.ens.fr/thematique/).


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I specialise in twentieth century anglophone literature, with a particular focus on James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot. I recently published a monograph on Joyce, which situates the short, enigmatic texts he called “epiphanies” in relation to their Classical, Biblical and Romantic forbears (Panepiphanal World, Florida University Press, 2020), and I am currently co-editing a new edition of Joyce’s epiphanies. My current research project, funded by the FNS, investigates a series of surprising filiations between the rise of formal logic and the radical innovations of modernist literature, considering how logic impacted Anglophone literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

 

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