SURF

Emily Doyle

The Socialized Being: How the Words "As If" Operate within Selected Novels of Henry James

I am currently exploring the question of the ways in which the phrase as if — as it appears in novels by Henry James, particularly What Maisie Knew — implicates integration into a social existence in which the curious and problematic acceptance of both reality and unreality is required of the self, particularly the pre-adolescent self. This is a vital question because, first, it offers a foundation from which to examine the complex interplay between several important novelistic factors: the self in relation to the other, the socialization of the child, the divide between the conscious and unconscious mind, and the necessary falsehoods perpetuated by social existence (to name a few). Second, the words as if and the work these words do within the novel as a literary genre is a topic which has received little attention and, yet, is of paramount importance in regard to both novelistic form and content.

Message to Sponsor

As a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, I am honored for the opportunity to pursue and develop my research inquiry. Ideally, the larger implications of my findings will help to establish a critical analysis of the phrase, as if, providing a way to examine works of other authors bearing the same or similar word usage as well as allowing a point of access to a certain dimension of fictionality crucial for how the novel implicates operations of the mind.
  • Major: English, Rhetoric (minor)
  • Sponsor: Anselm Fund
  • Mentor: Charles Altieri, English