Logan Smilges

Assistant Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Dying for a better day: mortality and mourning in the fiction of Virginia Woolf (2024)

The modern settler-colonial western world has a problem with dying. This thesis considers the impact of problematising dying by proposing two models of contemporary dying that stem from a largely death-phobic culture: euphemised dying and genred dying. I extend approaches common in medical humanities to make these models of dying legible through theoretical interventions applied to the fiction of Virginia Woolf, herself a source of much work on dying and death. Euphemised dying is a rhetorical operation that camouflages deliberate acts or systems of violence by naming killings as deaths. Sarah Lochlann Jain’s living in prognosis, Jasbir K. Puar’s debility, Achille Mbembe’s necropolitics, and Michel Foucault’s biopolitics inform the construction of this violation of dying, explored through Woolf’s 'Jacob's Room' and 'Mrs Dalloway'. Genred dying is the transformation of dying into a kind of genre with conventions that can be readily controlled or managed by the dying person and/or surrounding caregivers. I call on contemporary genre studies by Fredric Jameson and Raymond Williams to examine genred dying in tandem with Woolf’s 'The Years'. Calling heavily on Stephen Jenkinson’s lifetime of work in counselling dying people and their families, this thesis argues for a reappraisal of dying as a faithful and living subjectivity or deity that deserves a place in the world, and concludes by suggesting through an analysis of 'The Waves' that we could begin to learn dying through radical practices of mourning our forgotten ancestors.

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