Theses Doctoral

Speech Disorders. The Speaking Subject and Language in Neronian Court Literature

Rudoni, Elia

By combining literary criticism, philology, and contemporary psychoanalysis, this dissertation offers an innovative interpretation of Neronian court literature (Seneca, Lucan, and Petronius). I argue that the works of these three authors thematize and embody a problematic relation between the human subject and language. Language is not conceived or represented as an inert tool that can be easily appropriated by the speaking subject, but rather as a powerful entity that may, and often does, take control of the human subject, directing it from without. Besides analyzing how Seneca, Lucan, and Petronius portray the relation between the human subject and language in the internal plots and characters of their works, I also explore the relation between these three authors themselves and language. My conclusion is that this relation is defined by unresolved ambiguities and neurotic tensions, and I suggest that this might be a consequence of the traumatizing circumstances that the three examined authors endured at Nero’s court.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Gareth David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 23, 2020