What is the Self? Subjectivity and Narrative Progression in Richard Powers' “The Echo Maker”

By Julienne van Loon.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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

In this paper I take an interest in a question that has been the subject of much
discussion across literary and cultural studies as well as in the parallel
fields of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science during recent decades.
The question is: what is the self? This paper offers a reading of Richard
Powers' The Echo Maker to the extent that the novel constitutes an answer to
this profound and difficult question. I draw on the work of theorists such as Uri Margolin, Alan Palmer and Lisa Zunshine, for their cognitive approach to
literature. I am particularly interested to explore how the author manages to
juggle the demands of conventional narrative progression required by the novel
genre, including the construction of characters as relatively consistent,
logical and 'rounded' individuals, with some radically destabilising approaches
to the nature of consciousness and the self.

Keywords: Subjectivity, Consciousness, Richard Powers, Narrative Fiction

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.19-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 521.232KB).

Dr. Julienne van Loon

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Media, Society and Culture, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr Julienne van Loon is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Faculty of Media, Society and Culture at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. Her first novel, Road Story, won The Australian Vogel Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Best First Book category of the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2006 (Asia and Pacific Region). Her second novel, Backtracking, is due for release in 2007.


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