Sur le terrain: The Spatial Impact of Post-Fordism in the Works of Michel Houellebecq, Marie NDiaye, and Michael Haneke

Pearce, Isha Tracy (2018) Sur le terrain: The Spatial Impact of Post-Fordism in the Works of Michel Houellebecq, Marie NDiaye, and Michael Haneke. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB)


In several of Michel Houellebecq’s, Marie NDiaye’s, and Michael Haneke’s works there are moments in which attention is drawn to a backdrop of interesting spaces and shifting urban and rural topographies. Rather than viewing the spaces of the narratives as a passive stage upon which the action takes place, or as an exteriorization of the characters’ emotional state, this thesis approaches their works with the perspective that socio-economic change impacts on space, and that this impact can be explored by narrative. This thesis takes three of Houellebecq’s novels, three of NDiaye’s novels, and two of Haneke’s films, and positions them in the context of the economic shift between two dominant modes of production: Fordism and post-Fordism.

Post-Fordism can be defined according to four distinguishing features, each of which expresses itself on space in different ways: the first three concern the flexibilization, tertiarization, and feminization of the workforce; and the fourth refers to the global, informatized and geopolitical context in which these processes take place. The analysis in this thesis looks at the way in which the narratives depict these features, with a focus on their spatial attributes. An important part of the research question concerns whether the narratives respond to the precarious and volatile nature of post-Fordism by constructing a nostalgia for a more ‘stable’ past time and space. Houellebecq’s novels critique the impact of post-Fordist spatial change and emotively convey a sense of nostalgia. NDiaye’s novels also critique the impact of post-Fordist spatial change and explore the desire for stability. However, they simultaneously critique that desire, impeding recourse to nostalgia. Haneke’s films articulate the impact of post-Fordist spatial change and the way in which it impedes the city’s ability to be a space of ethical encounter. They present rural idylls and some urban spaces as offering opportunities for ethical relationships and the construction of community.

The thesis offers a new way to approach two authors and a filmmaker who are among the most remarkable of the twenty-first century. It demonstrates the value of literary and filmic works in making sense of socio-economic change, as well as the way in which economic transition expresses itself on the French territory and impacts upon experience and interaction occurring within it.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Still, Judith
Lane, Jeremy
Subjects: P Language and literature > PQ Romance literatures > PQ1 French literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 52361
Depositing User: Pearce, Isha
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2018 04:40

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View