Reading Ulysses in a postmodern world
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James Joyce's Ulysses has inspired a substantial body of scholarly criticism since its publication in 1922. The main thrust of these critiques has been focused on its innovative style and its accuracy in portraying Dublin in 1904. Given that today's readers live in a very different world than the one Joyce's characters and original readers inhabited, this thesis examines how the subsequent and substantial scientific and technological, social, political, and cultural changes, as well as the massive theory that postmodernism has inspired, affects our reading of Ulysses today. Attention is given to Joyce's incorporation of science into Ulysses , his treatment of identity politics, and the values he has its characters expound upon and embody in their thoughts, speech, and actions. The focus of this thesis is on the text of Ulysses rather than the context within which it was written; that is, the what of the novel rather than attempting at ascertaining Joyce's motives for his artistic decisions. Additionally, a postmodern perspective is employed, a perspective which transforms Ulysses from being viewed primarily as an innovative stylistic High Modernist novel into a political text with significant social content -- a content that may well resonate with a twenty-first century audience. Perspective matters, and as new perspectives evolve, new approaches to canonical works will continue to be employed, many of which were undreamed of in previous eras.