2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

The Illuminative Capacities of the Transactive Theory of Reading, and the Impulse Toward Creative Fusion of Self and Other: A Look at Agha Shahid Ali's The Half-Inch Himalayas
Aileen A. Gallagher
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

A psychoanalytic examination of Agha Shahid Ali's The Half Inch Himalayas shows that one can find an adult wish for a sort of second infancy: a wish to symbolically regress through a partial fusion of self and Other. This paper proposes that the transitional object of a text, which creates shared experience, substitutes this impulse towards a more primal union. I will draw on several psychoanalysts, such as Norman Holland and his transactive theory, which argues that the readers of texts reaffirm their identity themes through a feedback loop with that text, in order to expound on this idea of a sort of circular containment of self and Other. These theories will be applied in order to illuminate the readers relation to text and to Other, as well as to this strange desire for a symbolic return to an infant-mother dyadic consciousness.

Keywords: Agha Shahid Ali, The Half-Inch Himalayas, poetry, psychoanalysis


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 16-4
Location: VH 1324
Time: 10:15

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