student profile: Mr Jonathan Dunk


Thesis work

Thesis title: The New World: Exploration & the Production of the Modern Subject

Supervisors: Brigid ROONEY , Mark BYRON

Thesis abstract:

My thesis attempts an oblique history of modernity as a structure of rhetorical subjectivity. I deploy the decolonial premise articulated by the Filosofía de la Liberación (pursued by Mignolo, Dussel et al) that modernity as such was inaugurated in 1492 as a world-myth of ecliptic function – working to justify, legitimate, occlude, the praxis of violence instituted by colonial capitalism; Marx’s sixth sun. Dussel argues – and the Derrida of The Beast and the Sovereign implies similiarly – that the paradigmatic situation of modern subjectivity is the unprecedented mastery of Hernán Cortés, transformed into a law of subjectivity by Descartes in 1637.
My treatment with this problematic concerns specifically with the relationship between the gestures and situations of modernity (qua Jameson 2002) articulated by exploratory writers from the sixteenth century on – and the representation(construction) of subjectivity in the novel, and the subsequent disseminations, maintances, and now perhaps negation of that structure through lyrical and autobiographic literary forms. My more diverse contentions involve the figuration of sovereignty – most importantly, self-sovereignty as an occlusion of relational being, the developmentalist myth of modernity as a metonym for the legitimated nation-state in Australia and elsewhere – and navigation as the displacement and estrangement of space into narrative, drawing on Michel de Certeau’s concept of Heterology. I pursue these arguments through readings – often methodologically eclectic, but primarily Derridean, geocritical, and dialectical in Jameson’s sense thereof – of the exploratory literatures and its many descendants.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.