The Parodic Use of the ‘Party Consciousness’ in Cunningham’s ‘The Hours’: An Intertextual Approach

By Soha Raafat Ibrahim.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The use of parody in postmodern intertextual literary theories is described by critics as an ‘American phenomenon’ which has been recently developed as a consequence of the American’s writers’ attitude towards European tradition. Thus within the framework of “the most global concept possible for signifying the modern experience of writing, intertextuality” Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours (1998) could be critically approached. Cunningham’s novel is written as a parody of the ‘party consciousness’ investigated many decades earlier by the British writer Virginia Woolf, especially in her novel Mrs Dalloway. He does not only bring Woolf back to life, as is apparent in the major role played by the fictional character of Virginia Woolf in the novel, but he also satirically attacks ideologies and concepts raised in Woolf’s novel with thought and originality. Moreover he attempts to capture the real essence of the nature of literature as ‘radial’ rather than ‘linear’ in structure. The paper aims at investigating Cunningham’s parody used while questioning Woolf’s themes and narrative techniques reframed and reshaped. Furthermore, it attempts to analyze the literary identity of The Hours which manifests itself in the plurality of characters. In fact, a close reading of the novel, shows fragmentation of characterization and universal concepts. An examination of this fragmentation sheds light on Cunningham’s employment of parody as a tool of rebellion.

Keywords: Theory, Gender Studies, Feminist Ideologies, Intertextuality, Parody, Satire, Radial Structure, Linear Structure

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.95-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 641.441KB).

Dr. Soha Raafat Ibrahim

Assistant Professor, English Department, Helwan University, Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

Dr. Soha Raafat is an Assistant Professor. She received her BA, MA, and PhD degrees from the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University. Dr. Raafat has research interests and publications in the academic fields of ethnic American Literature, British Novel, postcolonial studies, gender issues, cinematic adaptations of literary texts, narrative theories, chronotope theories, postmodernism and comparative literature. Dr. Raafat has extensive experience in university teaching, designing courses, developing material specifically in areas such as Study Skills, ESL and ESP to undergraduate and postgraduate students at Helwan University. For many years, she has taught ESL to adult learners at The Radio and TV Training Institute and The Banking Institute. She was awarded a TESOL grant to San Francisco State University, USA (1989) and a Fulbright grant to Hyderabad, India (1992). Since 1998, she has been a member of Women and Memory Forum (NGO), where she is professionally involved in internationally sponsored gender training programmes, rewriting folktales from a feminist perspective and storytelling events. Dr. Soha Raafat is the author and the co-author of two collections of short stories Hekayat Horreya (2002) and Ma Lem Takolho Scherazade (2006).

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