Ira Bruce Nadel
Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
The similarities between James Joyce’s Ulysses and the Oxford English Dictionary are numerous and striking: both texts aim to encapsulate the meaning of nearly everything in the English-speaking world. Both are epic in scope to an unprecedented degree. Both make countless references to other works, and explicitly absorb much of the preceding literature. Both aim to set new creative and intellectual standards. Of course politically, the works are vastly different. Due to the pervasive opinions of the time, to which language scholars were not immune, the OED’s scope was limited to what was considered reputable literary language. While the OED aimed to document the (morally acceptable) established lexis, Joyce aimed to challenge and redefine it; he broke with tradition in frequently using loan words, as well as radically re-defining many of the standard words he used. He also invented entirely new ones. Moreover, he used English words to describe taboo subject matter, which is why the text was effectively banned from most of the English-speaking world until the mid-1930s. Joyce’s liberalism with language and subject matter excluded him from the OED for several decades. Despite their differences, Chapter One of this thesis aims to suggest that the writing of Ulysses was in many ways inspired and assisted by the OED. Equally of interest as Joyce’s use of the OED and other dictionaries in his writing process is the OED’s representation of Joyce. While the first edition of the OED (1928) does not cite James Joyce, nor, to our knowledge, does its 1933 supplement, OED2 (1989) adds over 1,800 Joyce citations. Whereas OED3 (2000-) currently features 2,408 Joyce citations, many of those from OED2 have been removed for reasons that are unclear. Joyce is an example of the changeable place of modernist literature in the OED. While Chapter One looks at Joyce and his creative process in connection with the OED, the central focus of Chapter Two is the OED’s treatment of Joyce (and/or lack thereof) over the course of three editions and more than a century.
Samuel Beckett and E.M. Cioran are two of the twentieth century’s best-knownpessimists. Yet few scholars outside of France are aware of the fact the two were friendsfor many years before going their separate ways. This thesis examined their friendship soas to clarify their political and philosophical agreements and disagreements. It did soprimarily by consulting the two writers’ correspondence and Cioran’s journal entries.This research determined that Beckett and Cioran fell out as friends as a result of politicaldifferences that first became apparent in the mid-1970s. (The former became politicallyactive in this decade and lost patience with the latter’s resignation.) The main conclusionsdrawn from this study were that Beckett was politically progressive despite his pessimismand that Cioran was unable to re-engage with politics following his youthful nationalism.
This paper explores Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll’s) use of a reductio ad absurdum proof in both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872). It seeks to show that Dodgson used this proof as a framework for the first novel in order to mock “new mathematics,” including but not limited to n-dimensional theories of space, imaginary and negative numbers, and non-Euclidean geometries. It also problematizes this reading of Wonderland through its exploration of Dodgson’s continued used of reductio ad absurdum as framework in Looking-Glass, in which he explores theoretical mathematics for which he held genuine interest. In doing so, the paper reviews Victorian developments in mathematics and the epistemological and theological shifts that these developments presaged. It also examines Dodgson’s particular interests, and in particular, his contradictory views in mathematics. It therefore seeks to undermine the canonical view of Carroll as a simple, less-than-brilliant mathematician through its examination of his most famous books’ fictional explorations of the worlds of mathematics.