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The fascination of what's difficult: the adaptive function of difficulty in Ulysses

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dc.contributor.author Tagharobi, Kaveh
dc.date.accessioned 2017-11-06T19:37:55Z
dc.date.copyright 2017 en_US
dc.date.issued 2017-11-06
dc.identifier.uri https://dspace.library.uvic.ca//handle/1828/8786
dc.description.abstract This thesis is based on the premise that questions about human affairs, including questions about art, need to be considered in the context of our deep history as a species. Darwinian theories of human existence have given scholars in evolutionary psychology the chance to analyze human cognition, emotions, and behaviour by considering the trajectory of our evolution and how that has shaped our current situation. Taking a Darwinian literary approach, this thesis tries to answer one of the main questions about James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses: What is the purpose behind a style that many find so difficult in this novel? In order to answer this question, I explore the adaptive purposes of literature (in general) and stylistic experimentation (in particular). I argue that art can be seen as a form of sexual display where stylistic difficulty and originality are ways of indicating fitness for survival. In this way, both the author and readers of Ulysses spend their time and energy to produce and consume the difficult style of Ulysses because they find pleasure in an activity that is adaptively useful. Furthermore, I suggest that earning social status could have been an evolutionary motive for both the authors and readers of difficult modernist texts, including Ulysses. To support this, I show how gaining social status is part of other sexual ornamentation that handicap the displayer by imposing excessive difficulty in terms of the time and energy needed to put on those displays of fitness. en_US
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.subject James Joyce en_US
dc.subject Ulysses en_US
dc.subject style en_US
dc.subject social status en_US
dc.subject modernist texts en_US
dc.title The fascination of what's difficult: the adaptive function of difficulty in Ulysses en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Ross, Stephen
dc.degree.department Department of English en_US
dc.degree.level Master of Arts M.A. en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US
dc.description.embargo 2018-10-23


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