|Title||The administrator character from Renaissance humanism to modernism: an examination of the authorial tradition of using characterisation to represent the mundane processes of their contemporary soundings, and as means through which to engage in discourses of power|
This PhD aims to investigate the development of a character type, referred to in this thesis as the ‘administrator’ - the character used by authors as a means to reflect through character both the mundane processes of their contemporary soundings, and as a means through which to address contemporary discourses of power. This character has historically functioned to alter the course of plots, determine the fates of other characters, and dictate the pace of a narrative, yet despite having pervaded literature and wider culture over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century, the character of the administrator has evaded detailed academic analysis of how and why such characters appear to be both wholly implicated in the plot’s outcome and yet are powerless to prevent the outcomes that it heralds.
The goal of this thesis is, then, to trace and analyse a major aspect of characterisation that has seldom been made explicit in literary studies: the importance of the role that characterisation plays in the text’s relationship with systematised power. By using the text's principal administrator character, or means of characterising systematised power, as a prism through which to view the text, we may attempt to separate those aspects of the text which critique contemporary social hierarchies from those aspects of the text which reflect, or even affirm them, from the period of the early Renaissance through to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Through an 'archaeology' of such a character type, the thesis shows how administrator characters have been used historically to incorporate the author's impressions of new organisational structures and the growing influence of certain institutions, from Machiavelli, More and Shakespeare through to the beginnings of modernism. The primary texts of this thesis have been selected as those which coincide with and appear to address major reconfigurations of collective organisation. By tracing the roots of the administrator character trope, as a kind of pre-history of our contemporary power relations (both in artistic representation and in our own relationships with systematised power), back to their earliest appearances in the Early Modern period, this thesis also seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of both the historical production of, and forms of subjectivity incorporated into, literary texts.