'You Are About to Begin Reading': the Nature and Function of Second Person Point of View in Narrative.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mary Frances Hopkins
This study asserts that second person point of view functions as a distinct category of point of view, which has been discounted by critical theorists. Second person point of view is defined in this study as a particular use of the second person pronoun. The "you" in second person point of view texts generates an alternating pattern of identification and displacement that constructs an intersubjectivity among narrative elements--narrator, actant, and narratee(s). Therefore, common uses of the "you" to refer only to the reader (narratee) of a text or to the actant in a text do not constitute second person point of view texts. The theory of second person point of view developed in this study argues that second person point of view issues challenges to traditional concepts of narrative subjectivity and authority. The rejection of the traditional sign of subjectivity and authority--the stated or implied "I"--combined with the proposition of an alternative--the multiple "you"--expresses the particular challenges of second person point of view. The challenges to narrative subjectivity and authority issued by second person point of view indicate the postmodern impulse of second person point of view. By exposing, undermining, and revising traditional concepts of narrative, second person point of view texts participate in the postmodern culture, which seeks to disabuse notions of truth invested in form. The unique challenge of second person point of view to subjectivity participates in contemporary feminist practice as well. Because women have been consigned to the role of nonsubjective "other," "otherness" is of particular interest to feminist theorists and critics. Second person point of view, as defined in this study, constructs a "discourse of others" in the voice of the multiple "you." In this way, second person point of view invests "others" with the subjectivity denied them by the traditional "first person singular fiction of selfhood.". This study proposes continued research of the implications for contemporary literary theory and practice and performance theory and practice offered by second person point of view.
Hantzis, Darlene Marie, "'You Are About to Begin Reading': the Nature and Function of Second Person Point of View in Narrative." (1988). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 4572.