The power of place: re-negotiating identity in hotel fiction

Pready, Joanna Elaine (2009) The power of place: re-negotiating identity in hotel fiction. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The metropolitan hotel is a rich space for exploration in hotel fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries due to its interesting connection with both the city and the home, and its positive and negative effects on the individual. Using spatial theory as a foundation for understanding how the hotel functions, and drawing on theorists such as Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, Edward D. Soja, Fredric Jameson, Yi-fu Tuan and David Harvey, this thesis offers an alternative approach to the culturally specific readings of past hotel studies; by contrast, it will draw on two alternate readings of the space: those which are concerned with the geographical and with the sociological make-up of the hotel. The ambition behind this thesis is to provide a framework for discussing novels from the realist tradition through to post-modern examples of spatial exploration.

A selection of works will be studied, including: Elizabeth Bowen, The Hotel, Henry Green, Party Going, Arnold Bennett, Imperial Palace and Grand Babylon Hotel, Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac, Kazuo Ishiguro, The Unconsoled and Ali Smith, Hotel World. These writers are linked through the particular use they make of the hotel and the creation of spatial identity in their novels. Spatial identity in turn arises through an awareness of the power of space, and its variable effect on an individual’s identity. This thesis begins by examining past hotel research, which centred on late nineteenth-century novels by Henry James and Edith Wharton. It then introduces the theoretical studies that have informed the current thesis. Before moving onto the two central chapters, which examine the geography and sociology of space, it includes a brief ‘interlude’ on Richard Whiteing’s No. 5 John Street, a work which introduces many of the themes central to this thesis. The central argument considers the agency or power of the hotel space, a concept which has been generally overlooked in criticism. The power of space in hotel fiction is exhibited in its capacity to alter events and emotions and identities in general. In this view landscape, traditionally considered two-dimensional, is no longer flat, but can be rather seen as a multifarious ‘character’ in its own right. This conception of the spatial environment of the hotel encapsulates what it means to function in the modern urban environment.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Guy, J.M.
Subjects: P Language and literature > PN Literature (General) > PN 80 Criticism
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 10990
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2010 14:52
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 11:30

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