Language & Society

"This thesis discusses theories of the social role of language and normative culture. It argues for an understanding of socially constitutive language as formally mythical, using Barthes’ definition of myth as a symbolic linguistic system which works to establish and express a particular mode of understanding and belief. The Romantic notion of Bildung as ethical self-formation is considered as a potential framework with which to resist the imposition of repressive mythology; the work of Novalis, in particular, is focused on in the investigation of Bildung as a progressive political ideal. In the consideration of the Romantics, the importance of liberating mythopoesis in processes of transformative social change is also developed, and the understanding of myth as potentially revolutionary, rather than strictly repressive, is posited. Finally, this thesis argues that Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, a work of documentary poetry, achieves many of the Romantic ideals of Bildung and revolutionary mythopoesis in the context of the contemporary United States. "

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