Short Story Cycles

The Sites of Uncertainty: The Politics and Poetics of Place in Short Fiction by James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner

This thesis is a study of the poetics and politics of place in the short stories of James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner. In an introduction, three chapters, each examining the short fiction of a writer, and a conclusion this thesis explores various aspects of understanding and representing place. Focusing on these writers’ short story cycles and drawing on short story theories, I argue that the main characteristic of the modernist short story cycle is the creation of interiorly diversified chronotopes. My main argument is that these writers create uncertain fictional places that could be described as dialogic. This representation of place as heterogeneous, conflicting, and uncertain reflects the changed conception of and attitude towards place in modernism. The introduction contextualizes the discussion and presents some relevant theoretical frameworks. The first chapter concentrates on the representation of place in Joyce’s Dubliners (including the interior, the exterior, the public place of the street and the space of home and country); it is argued that Joyce’s short story cycle generates a polyphonic world. In the second chapter, focusing on Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, I examine Anderson’s place, a small Midwestern town in the region of Ohio, USA, and show how an image of heterotopic place is created out of the counterbalance between grand narratives of the pastoral Midwest and the fragmentary form of the short story cycle. The third chapter deals with William Faulkner’s fictional place, his imaginary county of Yoknapatawpha and argues that Faulkner’s place is heteroglossic. The conclusion summarizes the findings in a comparative fashion, arguing that the meaning of place is not fixed and stable but rather personal and momentary reflected in the writerly texts and that the narratives these writers develop allocate an important role to the reader: to co-construct the text and thus also its image of place.

from: Atteh, Abdalkareem (2015) The Sites of Uncertainty: The Politics and Poetics of Place in Short Fiction by James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner. PhD thesis, University of Essex. URL:

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Dubliners entry on

Winesburg, Ohio entry on


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