English & Philosophy
Applying Possible Worlds theory to Literature: Researching the Textual Actual World in Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘The Rules of Attraction’.
For an academic paper I wrote whilst studying in Germany last year, I analysed a novel by Bret Easton Ellis within the framework of Possible Worlds theory. This involved constructing a framework for analysis based around the work of a number of theorists, including Lubomir Dolezel and Uri Margolin. Eventually I focused primarily on the narrative theories of Marie-Laure Ryan. As the German system differs from our own, it is normal to write a term paper on any related subject of ones choosing of roughly dissertation length for most classes. After reading some of Ryan’s work about post-modern narratives, I decided it would be interesting to link this to ‘The Rules of Attraction’ by Bret Easton Ellis.
My thesis was that, as the text consists of various first person narratives which often conflict with one another the absence of a definitive version of events meant that in the context of the novel there was in fact no possible way for the reader to access the Textual Actual World – as it did not exist, but was rather composed of various fragmentary narratives each with an equal claim to validity.
For the Undergraduate Research Experience, I hope to prepare a poster showing the process via which I wrote this term paper – which, in this instance, involved using theory as an access point to the literary texts rather than the other way round.