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2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the Role of Masculinity in the 21st Century: Has the term ‘masculinity’ evolved too far and does the popularity of books such as Fight Club prove a yearning for the reinstatement of traditional masculine values?

It’s difficult to highlight an exact point in history at which the role of masculinity changed. In the 19th Century masculinity, along with being male as a gender, also connoted physical attributes such as strength, confidence, and the ability to provide for one’s own family. This was accompanied by the idea that, on an emotional level, they must appear emotionless and strong in times of fear and jeopardy.
During the early 19th Century, Great Britain participated in two world wars, in which it was expected that healthy male adults should join the army and protect their country against the threat of Nazi Germany. This, perfectly, epitomises the role of males in the period, as it exemplified the role of masculinity and protectors, as women and children were expected to stay at home and help the war effort in different ways, such as the manufacturing of weapons and artillery.
Whilst the refashioning of what the term ‘masculinity’ denoted was gradual, there were key historical points which helped redefine the term. Hence, following the war, however, in the 1960s and ’70s traditional gender roles were challenged following the influence of the feminist movement.
This thesis will look at the history of masculinity in Great Britain since the 19th Century; explore how it has changed following the rise of feminism; and how the role of books such as Fight Club (1997) and American Psycho (1991) have appealed to the modern man desiring for ‘old-fashioned’ masculine values to be reinstated in society.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Using Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, Evaluate Nietzsche’s Concept of Eternal Recurrence.

This project analyses the value of Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence, using Kundera’s novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” as a contextual foundation. I argue that Kundera’s work highlights the problems that arise from not accepting one’s fate, failing to comprehend the immutable nature of the past, and refusing to recognise that suffering is an inevitable part of life. By using Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence as a psychological tool, individuals can learn to appreciate both the positive and negative aspects of existence. I contend that although criticisms, such as Karl Löwith’s, demonstrate some weaknesses, ultimately Nietzsche’s eternal return is a valuable doctrine that may act as a possible solution to the burden of existential weight.

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2022 Abstracts Stage 3

The power of literature: breaking through oppressive structures with literary techniques

Traditional forms of political protest have failed us so a new process of resistance against oppressive systems is needed and this project presents that this is literature.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

An exploration of logic and mathematics in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adevtures in Wonderland’

Wonderland is often used as a synonym for nonsense, but is there something more complex and logical functioning beneath the surface? Lewis Carroll’s fiction novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland presents the most remarkable synergy of sense and nonsense; logic and fallacies. With Deleuze’s Logic of Sense being utilised to illuminate the key fields of logic in the novel, appropriate fields of geometry and algebra will be utilised under the scope of mathematics to elevate an establishment of logic.

A conservative mathematician, Carroll disputed the pivotal change that was being introduced in the 19th century. With preceding mathematics emphasising logical Euclidean methods, the 1800’s saw mathematical theories introduce more abstract principles which extended mathematics beyond the isolation of arithmetic and numbers. Deeming this absurd, Carroll thus utilised the nonsense fiction in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to subtly mock the contemporary mathematical climate.

Having always possessed an interest in how fiction literature can re-orientate the mechanics of our perceived reality, highlighting the logic in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will enable a platform to project my passion for mathematics in a qualitatively fiction context. By illuminating the masked logic and mathematics throughout the novel, this project will ultimately aim to convey how this nonsense fiction literature often anchors itself in a sound and consistent logic.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Should one exercise their right to freedom or remain within an authoritative state to maintain security? An exploration of positive and negative freedom within Attack on Titan through the field of political philosophy

Should one exercise their right to freedom or remain within an authoritative state to maintain security? Through exploring the notions of positive and negative freedom in relation to protagonist Eren Jaeger within Attack on Titan, it was found that his use of positive freedom was manipulated into fuelling his own agenda for freedom. Ultimately, one should exercise their right to liberty as long as it does not undermine the freedom of others.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Death of the Minority Author: How the removal of the author can be understood as oppressive to minority authors in the modern world.

The philosophical concept known as ‘The Death of the Author’ was first coined by Roland Barthes, in his 1967 essay of the same name. In short, it is the idea that all prestige bestowed upon an author should be removed, and that the figure of the author is no more important than anyone else.
Within my work I intend to argue that if this concept were to be applied within the modern world, it would either directly cause, or allow for, the oppression of minority authors.

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2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Was Harry Potter predetermined to be the chosen one? Or is it down to free will.. or more fate?

Was Harry Potter predetermined to be the chosen one? Or is it down to free will.. or more fate?

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2021 Abstracts Stage 3

What is Horror? A Psychoanalytic Perspective

This project aims to explore the territory of horror fiction,
investigating the question of ‘what is horror?’ through a
psychoanalytic perspective. This investigation is focused on H.P.
Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness, published in 1936;
this constitutes the object of the project. The psychoanalytic thought
that will be drawn upon is, primarily, that of Sigmund Freud and
Jacques Lacan, with Slavoj Žižek used as secondary theorist
throughout. The philosophical concepts employed in this project are
Freud’s notion of the unheimlich and Lacan’s order of the Real,
though the latter is streamlined through the Žižekian reading of the
Real as horrifying.
An application of these psychoanalytic frameworks to the material
provided by Lovecraft’s novella will offer two contrasting accounts
concerning what constitutes the notion of horror. The Freudian
approach rationalises the image of horror by tracing it back to certain
repressed content, whilst the Žižekian-Lacanian approach
understands the phenomena of horror as an interruption of the Real
into our social reality. This project argues for the salience of the latter,
on account of the reductive tendency of the Freudian framework that,
ultimately, fails to capture the philosophical richness of the material
with which it is dealing.

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2020 Abstracts Stage 2

Reading the Psychological Implications of Brutalist Architecture through J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise

This paper intends to question the extent to which brutalist architecture produces negative environments through their adverse psychological impact on those who inhabit them. Equally, it will explore how such environments can be overcome. The object these aims will centre around is J.G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise, a dystopian narrative that critiques the modernist tower block, by providing a hyperbolic account of the potential ramifications it can have on the human mind. This paper intends to question the extent to which brutalist architecture produces negative environments through their adverse psychological impact on those who inhabit them. Equally, it will explore how such environments can be overcome. The object these aims will centre around is J.G. Ballard’s novel High-Rise, a dystopian narrative that critiques the modernist tower block, by providing a hyperbolic account of the potential ramifications it can have on the human mind.The consideration of how negative environments can be overcome will draw on the positive elements of Deleuze’s Nietzsche – his concept of the eternal return and the Overman – and Debord’s psychogeography. These concepts are examined to explore the extent which they can be used as remedial to the negative implications of an environment.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

“Where Flash Becomes Word and Silents Selfloud”: the Language of Finnegans Wake

The obscure, polysemic, multi-lingual, syntactically nonstandard style of writing in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has polarised critics even since before the time of the book’s full release. The ongoing debates surrounding the work raise philosophical questions about the limits of language and the nature of art and literature. This essay explores possible philosophical justifications for using such a style, and enquires whether it might offer unique artistic possibilities, unavailable to clearer, more conventional styles.

Beginning from Heidegger’s theory of art, the essay explores the distinction between the Heideggerian concepts of “world” and “earth”, arguing that the book inverts the standard function of language as embodying a socio-historical “world”, instead turning it into a force which represents the “ungraspable”, impenetrable, nature of “earth”.

The essay then examines the Wake with reference to Blanchot’s work on literature, finding that the techniques of emphasising the physicality of language, as well as fragmenting a work into pieces whose only relation is difference – which Blanchot claims constitute are essential for a literary work to represent things in their “free, silent existence” – are utilised in extreme ways and to unique ends in the Wake.

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2017 Abstracts Stage 2

The Lust for Power in Shakespeare’s Rome: Altruism vs. Egoism

Julius Caesar can be seen as both a tragic hero, or a deservedly vanquished tyrant; or perhaps even somewhere in between the two. The purpose of this title is to discover, using the theories of egoism and altruism from Hobbes and Smith respectively, where the characters of the Shakespeare production lie. The play is notorious for having ambiguous characters in terms of their actions: however, by using these philosophical theories, it becomes possible to clear the muddy waters and find some truth to the play. Does Caesar act like the power-crazed egoist tyrant he was murdered for being? Or was he simply rising in power as a result of the people’s adoration for his altruistic actions?

Not only Caesar’s intentions were ambiguous, the likes of Cassius, Antony and Brutus all show evidence of being both selfish and selfless – so who, if anyone, can be considered a hero in this play, and who is or are, the true villains? Throughout this essay I will be trying to deduce these answers, to work out whether Caesar was killed righteously, or as a result of clever deception and envy of his power, whether the senators of Rome acted for the good of their people, or to try and increase their own power to ensure their happiness and quality of life is never threatened.

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2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Can Postmodernist Picturebooks be Considered to be An Example of Deleuze and Guattari’s Concept of Minor Literature?

Minor Literature is that which completes three tasks: the continual deterritorialisation of major literature, the enablance of collective enunciation and the instating of non-hierarchal relationships between signifiers and the signified. This project considers whether postmodern picturebooks complete these tasks.

The term, ‘postmodernist picturebooks’ refers to a series of books co-published in Britain and America between 1994 and 2004. All of these books make use of metafictive references and narrative gaps.

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Who Controls the Past Controls the Future, Who Controls the Present Controls the Past. A Discussion into the Manipulation of History in Relation to Power in Orwell’s 1984

The Novel
Big Brother, Continuous war, ever present government surveillance, mind control, eradication of independent thought, manipulation of history and written record

Power
Power in its third dimension:
Being complicit in one’s own domination
Ideologies are promoted; the masses are forced to believe that what they think is in their interests are furthering the interests of those in power

Hegel
Culture and knowledge are liberating; culture makes an individual rational
The course of history is governed through a development of ‘progress’
Progress toward emancipation and empowerment

Lyotard
Crisis in modernity; loss of belief in metanarratives
Power is maintained through a manipulation of historical record
no one can ‘know’ anything anymore; the interests of those in power are maintained

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

The Legacy of the Beat Generation in Contemporary Culture

The changing shape of the search for meaning in American Literature, what does it mean to be ‘human’ today?

Comparing Don Delillo’s vision of contemporary culture and humanity to Beat literature, to explore how technology and mass culture have changed the nature of Being.

Using Heidegger to compare the authentic Beat human to the inauthentic contemporary human.

Does the resurgence of interest in the Beat Generation imply the effort to reclaim authentic life?

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2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Animal Farm: Does the Subtle and Binary Nature of Philosophy Fail where Literature Succeeds?

IS ANIMAL FARM A COMMENT ON SOVIET RUSSIA? A COMMENT ON THE PITFALLS OF MARXIST THEORY? A COMMENT ON HUMAN NATURE WITH REGARDS TO POWER? OR IS THIS A LIMITING VIEW OF TRUTH? CAN LITERATURE SHOW US GREATER TRUTH?

HEIDEGGER:
THE POWER OF POETRY FOR A HIGHER TRUTH, A TRANSCENDANCE OF OUR SITUATION TO REVEAL THE BEING-OF-BEINGS

FOUCAULT:
SURELY THERE IS NOT SUCH A THING AS RESISTANCE OR TRUTH? EVERYTHING IS PART OF THE SYSTEM OF POWER, EVEN IDENTITY, SO CAN ORWELL BE ANYTHING MORE THAN AN IDENTITY CREATED BY POWER’S MECHANISM?

VATTIMO:
ONCE WE ACCEPT THAT WE ARE HISTORICALLY CONTINGENT AND THERE IS NO ‘TRUTH’ WE CAN WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM OF UNDERSTANDING TO TRANSCEND OUR GIVEN VALUES THROUGH OSCILLATORY NIHILISTIC HERMENEUTICS: CRITICAL THOUGHT: IS THIS WHAT ORWELL ACHIEVES?

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” (Orwell, 1984)

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2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Is it Right for an Editor to Have so Much Influential Power?

In my project I aim to discuss whether or not individuals have too much power when it comes to the media and journalism. I will look particularly into the jobs of the editors and owners. I will do this by investigating several case studies including the 1992 general election that Murdoch believed was won due to The Sun’s Headline: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”

I will mainly be focusing on John Stuart Mill’s novel On Liberty. Mill focused on freedom of speech, believing that no matter what position or job you have in society you should always be allowed to have your own opinions. However, he also believes that individuals should not spread their opinion if it will be harmful to others. I will be looking into and analysing both of these claims.

I will also be studying Dale Jacquette’s novel Journalistic Ethics: Moral Responsibility in the Media, Heinz Steinert’s novel Culture Industry, and Political Freedom (Problems of Philosophy) by George G. Brenkert, along with many others. As well as Mill I will be critically analysing Debord’s work on the media and comparing it to other philosophers.
Overall I aim to come to a conclusion about whether or not the editors and owners of newspapers have the right to print fabricated stories, whether the facts are true or whether they are lies.

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2011 Abstracts Stage 3

How Are Franz Kafka’s Novels Ethical?

Aim: I aim to demonstrate how Blanchot’s ethics can be found within literature. Specifically, in Kafka’s work.

Philosophy: death of a subject is, ultimately, Blanchot’s ethics. It is instigated by the interruption of the ‘Il y a’. Here, all former values (everydayness) is replaced by those of the other (otherness). This motion is mimicked in literature, particularly in Kafka’s work. My project will assess why.

Anti-thesis: Is Kafka’s work symbolic (stubbornly independent) or allegorical (autobiographical)? That is, is Kafka himself present throughout his work?

I will argue that Kafka’s work is allegorical; he is everywhere in his work.

Blanchot’s Texts: Reading Kafka, Kafka and Literature, The Language of Fiction Literature and the Right to Death, Death Sentence.
Heidegger’s Texts: Why Poets?, On the Essence of Truth, The Origin of the Work of Art, Way to Language.
Kafka’s texts: The Trial, The Castle, Metamorphosis.

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2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Strange Case of Dr Ego and Mr Shadow

For this project I’m investigating views on the unconscious. I think that it is important to learn as much as we can about ourselves in order to better ourselves and the society in which we live. Philosophers who I have looked at are Freud and Jung. I have used Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ to parallel with the idea of hidden aspects of our personality in our unconscious. The novel also reflects upon the notion of drugs unlocking these hidden, repressed aspects of self; a topic in which I am also interested.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Exploring the Philosophy of Heidegger through the Work of Samuel Beckett

In my project, I will use Beckett’s work, including novels, short prose, drama and critical essays, to explore and challenge the work of Heidegger. I will explore Heidegger’s philosophy, in terms of his views on the way people exist in the world, their perspectives and the nature of truth and knowledge, with a particular focus on his ideas about art. I will use the style, mediums and characters of Beckett to explore how valid these ideas are for the modern world, particularly after the atrocities of the Second World War. I will focus particularly on Heidegger’s condemnation of art in the modern world, exploring its validity. I hope to show that Heidegger’s ideas, though often persuasive and enlightening, are inapplicable to a modern world in which subjects and communities are simply not the coherent and well-integrated wholes he hoped for. Following Beckett, I will explore the precarious, impotent, tragic and confused nature of existence, resolvable, perhaps, in death.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Anxiety and the Loss of Meaning

Outline: I aim to explore the concept of anxiety, loss of meaning and absurdity of life as presented within “Existentialist” narrative. In evoking these ideas from specific novels I will analyse them more precisely with relation to Martin Heidegger’s concept of anxiety. Territory: In particular I will be studying Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, Albert Camus’ The Outsider, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, and Leo Tolstoy’s A Confession. In examining these texts I hope to explore how the idea of loss of meaning is presented and focus particularly upon the individual’s coming to terms with the absurdity of life. Philosophical Material: The philosopher that I have chosen to focus on is Martin Heidegger and particularly his concept of anxiety within his work What is Metaphysics? Here Heidegger produces an account which indicates how the individual is able to think about and question their own existence and how, through the state of anxiety, they are able to reflect upon “the nothing” that appears on their horizon of thought. As well as analysing What is Metaphysics? I shall also use Heidegger’s Being and Time, On the Essence of Truth and The Origin of the Work of Art to indicate the significant role that this concept of anxiety plays within his greater philosophy. Where Heidegger builds upon a philosophy considering the individual I shall also look at the work of Emmanuel Levinas, who concentrates on a more social philosophy, in order to bring contrast to Heidegger’s thought. In his struggle to come to terms with a finite existence Leo Tolstoy was torn between suicide and religion. The struggle of the individual’s existence is the concept that lies at the heart of my project.