Imagining what it means to be ''human'' through the fiction of J.M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K and Cormac McCarthy's The Road
MetadataShow full item record
Through a literary analysis of two contemporary novels, J.M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K (1983) and Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006), in which a common concern seems to be an exploration of what it means to be human, the thesis seeks to explore the relationship between human consciousness and language. This dissertation considers the development of a conception of the human based on rationality, and which begins in the Italian Renaissance and gains momentum in the Enlightenment. This conception models the human as a stable knowable self. This is drawn in contrast to the novels, which figure the absence of a stable knowable self in the representation of their protagonists. The thesis thus interrogates language's capacity to provide definitional meanings of the ''human.'' On the other hand, although language's capacity to provide essential meanings is questioned, its abundant expressive forms give voice to the experience of human being. Drawing on a range of fields of enquiry, both philosophical, linguistic, and bio-ethical, this thesis seeks to explore the connection between human consciousness and the medium of language. It considers how the two novels in question play with the concept of language to produce or imagine other ways of thinking about human existence, and other ways of creating meaning to human existence through the representation of their novels.