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  • 2017alhasanphd

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Ethics, politics, and alterity in selected plays and other works by Harold Pinter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2017
Number of pages260
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis offers a comprehensive critical examination of the intersections between Pinter’s political output – most notably his drama – and contemporary ethical thought. In order to so, I build on the recent few discussions of Pinter’s ethics by arguing that the ethical has always been a critical focus at every stage of Pinter’s work. In short, this study challenges both the earlier tendency that takes Pinter as an Absurdist and the late one that regards him as purely political. I shall then seek to explore the nexus between politics and ethics in various Pinter texts that deal explicitly or suggestively with the political. In order to so, I shall look at the question of alterity as that which structures the irreducible gap between ethics and politics in Pinter’s work. In particular, I approach the conception of otherness in Pinter in the double sense of the unknowable and that which always already inhabits the same. In either case, alterity, for Pinter, I argue, appears as a disruptive force, displacing the inclination towards hegemony, totality and sameness. In short, Pinter, I argue, does not offer a prescriptive treatise on how to overcome the ethical-political opposition; however, his plays, I would argue, glance towards a different configuration of the political, one that is grounded in an ethical responsiveness or openness towards the other. Comparatively speaking, the academic field of drama and theatre studies has been a latecomer to the growing interest in ethics that was mainly triggered by an increasing interest in the work of Levinas during the last two decades of the twentieth century. It is not until the late 2000s that a turn to ethics became manifest in theatre studies. And it is particularly this turn towards ethics within drama studies, in general, and the contemporary British stage, in particular, that sets the context for my current investigation of Pinter’s ethics.