Constellating the real

Doohan, Carmel (2019) Constellating the real. DFA thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis comprises a novel and a critical essay. Both investigate the philosophical, political and aesthetic implications of trying to understand and write the real, focusing on mimesis, interpretation, boundary-making and the possibility of connection. Although each piece can stand-alone, they have been developed in tandem, with each feeding into and informing the other.
My critical essay draws on a wide range of theoretical arguments to explore the possibilities for a new multidisciplinary understanding of realism. The importance of the mimetic faculty in our existential reality and a focus on the materiality of language are crucial to my argument. I explore how pattern decipherment is a fundamental part of our being-in-the-world and offer a re-working of the post-structuralist split between word and thing. Responding to arguments discussed in the essay, my novel questions the idea of fixed boundaries and the dangers of binary thinking. It consciously shows how narrative is co-created through a cognitive, pattern-making desire to form a whole from disparate parts, problematizing any realism that claims to impart a fixed truth or objective 'external' reality.

The novel explores the material and linguistic ways in which narratives are created, incorporating discourses of epigenetics, big data and psychometric testing. Its fragmented style combines theory, scientific discourse and autofiction to create the experience of an everyday in need of constant interpretation, a dissonant paradox that combines a deeply interconnected materiality reality with an experience of it that is continually interrupted and alienated. Through fragmentation and the play of the seemingly random, I critique the information-overload of our contemporary digital everyday, exploring how the logic of equivalence and simultaneity can affect the sense-making patterns that structure our reality.

The novel functions as a constellation, achieving narrative through a mimetic reading of relation, resemblance and analogy. I argue that the constellation - as an arrangement of the unfixed yet readable, and the creation of meaning through open, changing relations rather than fixity – offers a form able to interact with, and write, the interdependent, symbiotic real it exists within.

Item Type: Thesis (DFA)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues the full text of this thesis is not available. Access to the print version is available once any embargo period has expired.
Keywords: Realism, constellation, new-materialism, mimesis.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Randall, Dr. Bryony and Herd, Dr. Colin
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 30 May 2023
Depositing User: Dr Carmel Doohan
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-73004
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 09:09
Last Modified: 30 May 2022 08:36
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73004

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