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Thesis Defence: Hospitality in Crisis: New Sincerity and Receiving the Stranger in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet
November 2 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Brianne Christensen, supervised by Dr. Jennifer Gustar, will defend their thesis titled “Hospitality in Crisis: New Sincerity and Receiving the Stranger in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English.
An abstract for Brianne Christensen’s thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
Questions of hospitality — in particular, those concerning its offer at national borders and the potential outcomes of this encounter — are increasing in social and political import in the contemporary moment as global communities experience the largest forced migration of people since the Second World War. Scottish author Ali Smith recognizes and commits to narratively representing hospitality as an urgent issue, especially in the context of ongoing migration debates in post-Brexit Britain. My Master’s thesis explores, with specific consideration of post-Brexit migration discourse and national mood, how thinking about migration, hospitality, and sincerity in very concrete ways structures Smith’s Seasonal Quartet as a literary project. Across the four novels, Smith develops and demonstrates a distinct rhetoric of hospitality that connects socio-political context and literary concerns with sincerity. By theorizing this rhetoric, I show how Smith’s treatment of hospitality might engage, substantiate, challenge, and even complicate current theories of hospitality, such as those presented by Jacques Derrida, Sara Ahmed, and Judith Still. Furthermore, while Smith’s Quartet addresses the context of migration in post-Brexit Britain and the pressing need of hospitality in social life as well as in art and literature, she is also developing sincere modes of writing that are attuned to hospitality. My thesis illustrates that these modes of writing align with New Sincerity, a literary genre concerned with sincere communication through realist aesthetics. I explore how Smith’s Quartet contributes to current understandings of this genre by evaluating the correlation between the novels’ narrative voice and Smith’s authorial persona, as expressed in public paratexts like interviews and related publications. Ultimately, I argue that Smith’s distinct rhetoric of hospitality necessitates consideration of, and makes possible new outcomes from, “narrative hospitality,” the role of sincerity in politically engaged fiction, and the social responsibility of an author to be hospitable.