Political histories, politicised spaces: discourses of power in the fiction of Alasdair Gray

Whiteford, Eilidh MacLeod (1997) Political histories, politicised spaces: discourses of power in the fiction of Alasdair Gray. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b1709410


Critical assessments of Alasdair Gray's work make frequent mention of his postmodern literary strategies and his active engagement with political issues. However, Gray himself is quick to refute claims that he is a postmodern writer, and, although his books are often described as 'political', detailed attention has yet to be paid to the kind of politics Gray espouses. By examining key ideological strands in a range of Alasdair Gray's prose writings (including texts that have attracted little critical interest) and by exploring their central, sometimes unresolved, tensions, this thesis investigates the relationship between literary and political discourses in Gray's work. Attempting to chart the range and extent of Gray's engagement with contemporary issues of political and cultural debate, the five chapters of the thesis demonstrate that Gray's literary techniques are intimately connected to his thematic and political concerns.

The thesis draws on a range of critical approaches to address Gray's work, using aspects of post-structuralist, feminist, and postcolonial theories. The first chapter examines autobiographical and semi-autobiographical texts by Gray, opening discussion about his approaches to narrative construction and historiography. It argues that Gray's texts draw attention to their own narrative paradigms and underlying ideological assumptions, and suggests that Gray's destabilization of conventional Western epistemological frameworks unsettles empirical conceptions of human subjectivity and identity, challenging the terms in which personal and national identities can be secured. The discussion of Gray's self-conscious destabilization of categories of identity underlies the questions raised in subsequent chapters. The second chapter highlights Gray's treatment of the hegemonic discourses of imperialism and capitalism. Focusing on his polemical essays and short fiction; the chapter examines the role of literature in imperial processes, the complexities of Scotland's position within imperial discourses, and explores questions of cultural agency and resistance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Dr. Carol
Date of Award: 1997
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:1997-2054
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:50
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2054

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