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Diachronic Binding: The Novel Form and the Gendered Temporalities of Debt and Credit
Thorsteinsson, Vidar

2016, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Comparative Studies.
Contributing to Victorian novel studies, literary theory, and gender studies, this dissertation studies individual indebtedness and speculation as testing-grounds of the management of the self, highlighting the role of novelistic narrative in the attendant subjective experiences and practices. Its central conclusion is that self-government in the credit economy takes the form of a uniquely temporal sensibility or form which is here named “diachronic binding.” Diachronic binding, as is shown, consists of a continuous motion between speculation and austerity, where the violence and disciplining of the latter often takes on particularly gendered expressions. In the Introduction, the historical-comparative dimensions of the project are discussed and its contours charted through a reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Found. Following Chapter 1, which is devoted to outlining the theoretical basis of the argument concerning time, gender, and the credit economy, Chapter 2 opens on to an engagement with the Victorian novel, starting with an analysis of the figure of what is here called the “rootless woman.” Living in a state of constant suspense and flight, is is considered how Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair personifies the haunting presence of an irreducibly unpaid quantitative gap at the heart of capitalist value production. The rootless woman, it is concluded, simultaneously stages the general fear of failing to profitably engage temporal market forms and the desire to exclusively associate women with these failures so as to rhetorically legitimate their exclusion from the market and subjection to domestic patriarchy. The analysis of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, in Chapter 3, continues to consider the unevenly gendered enactments of value. In contrast to Daniel’s successful engagement of the binding dynamic between future speculation and past validation, it is considered how Gwendolen is set up to fail in her motion from speculation to austerity. The `Hermione’ episode where Klesmer ambiguously complements Gwendolen’s “plastik” as she freezes in horror at the sight of the painting that forebodes her future tragedy is read closely, and interpreted as exposing the desperation of Gwendolen’s self-preservation in the face of economic instability, a brittle and fragile protective armor that stands in opposition to Daniel’s suppleness of form. Building on the engagement with Thackeray and Eliot, the fourth and final chapter moves on to consider the afterlives of Victorian forms, tropes, and narrative patterns in contemporary Icelandic fiction set during the country’s recent period of hyper-financialization. The presence of a marketable yet abject feminine subjectivity which is simultaneously plastic and fragile is identified in Icelandic novelist Steinar Bragi’s 2008 financial horror thriller, Women. The novel’s protagonist, Eva, undergoes a violent and literal process of bodily forming that invokes the performative techniques of modern finance while harkening back to the speculative core of capitalist value-production. The dissertation ends with a short conclusion which discusses the historical and cultural counterpoints between the Victorian period and the contemporary trans-Atlantic world.
Eugene Holland (Committee Chair)
Philip Armstrong (Committee Member)
Jill Galvan (Committee Member)
Ethan Knapp (Committee Member)
Katherine Hayles (Committee Member)
Gudni Elisson (Committee Member)
291 p.

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Thorsteinsson, V. (2016). Diachronic Binding: The Novel Form and the Gendered Temporalities of Debt and Credit. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Thorsteinsson, Vidar. "Diachronic Binding: The Novel Form and the Gendered Temporalities of Debt and Credit." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2016. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Oct 2018.

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Thorsteinsson, Vidar "Diachronic Binding: The Novel Form and the Gendered Temporalities of Debt and Credit." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2016. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Full text release has been delayed at the author's request until May 09, 2021