Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

David Ferris

Second Advisor

Warren Motte

Third Advisor

Jill Heydt-Stevenson


Discontinuity is a key feature of modernity, seen in both the modern city and modernist thought, and plays out particularly strongly in relation to the concept of identity. This project begins with Walter Benjamin’s studies of modernism and the concept of distraction or shock effect, which inhibits a person’s space and time for contemplations. Such rupture is also crucial in discourse and being, according to Maurice Blanchot’s work on interruption. By harnessing interruption as a positive, structuring force rather than battling it as a negative, the fiction of Gérard Gavarry invites reflection on the supposed continuity of language and form, and calls attention to the disparate elements of its construction. An attempt at recovering a cohesive sense of identity can be found in the post-colonial renovation of cosmopolitanism; this effort, however, ultimately comes up short as it does not take into account the full problematic of its modern context.