Title page for ETD etd-05102011-120610

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Casto, Andrew Christopher
Author's Email Address accasto@vt.edu
URN etd-05102011-120610
Title Reading Consciousness: Analyzing Literature through William James' Stream of Thought Theory
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Sorrentino, Paul M. Committee Chair
Oehlschlaeger, Fritz H. Committee Member
Pender, Kelly E. Committee Member
  • Consciousness in literature
  • Psychological criticism
  • Stream of consciousness
  • Literary criticism
  • Critical theory
Date of Defense 2011-04-26
Availability unrestricted
Proceeding from the assumption that psychoanalytic theory has yielded insightful

literary interpretations, I propose that equally legitimate readings result from analyzing

consciousness in literature. William James’ “Stream of Thought” offers a psychological

theory of consciousness from which I develop a literary theory that counterbalances the

Freudian emphasis on the unconscious. Examining two works by Henry James, I

demonstrate how assessing the elements of a character’s consciousness leads to

conclusions at which other theories do not arrive. This analytical approach leads to not

only an alternative critical agenda but also a fuller understanding of the psychological

function of the character’s and, by extension, the human mind.

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