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《蓝衣魔鬼》中易兹·罗林斯的困境与反抗

发布时间:2019-07-25
  摘要
  
  沃尔特·莫斯里(Walter Mosley, 1952-)是当代非裔美国文学中具有代表性的黑人侦探小说家、政治家。其处女作《蓝衣魔鬼》一经问世,便赢得了评论家、读者,甚至美国前总统克林顿的一致好评。小说采用第一人称叙述视角,描写了1948 年至 1963 年间黑人群体离开休斯顿到洛杉矶、实现美国梦的艰辛历程,凸显了二战后美国社会非裔美国人备受压迫的生存境况。本文依托福柯的规训权力理论,分析《蓝衣魔鬼》中规训权力在白人主导的美国主流社会的运作,探讨非裔美国人易兹·罗林斯在规训权力制约的生存困境中为摆脱困境、实现自由平等所做的努力。

《蓝衣魔鬼》中易兹·罗林斯的困境与反抗
  
  全文共分为五章。第一章介绍沃尔特·莫斯里以及《蓝衣魔鬼》,概括国内外学术界的相关研究,阐述福柯的规训权力理论,提出本文的主题和论点。第二章分别从层级监视、规范化裁决和检查三个方面阐释规训权力的运作,继而分析主人公易兹·罗林斯在规训权力控制下的生存状况。第三章探讨在白人主导的规训社会中,规训权力的存在对易兹·罗林斯产生的影响,揭露非裔美国人被剥夺了身体自由与话语自由之后的生存困境。第四章剖析易兹·罗林斯如何抵制权力的压迫,从而实现身体解放,赢得话语权,展现非裔美国人为追求自由平等而进行反抗的艰辛。第五章为结论部分,指出本论文的现实意义。通过批判资本主义意识形态下的美国权力社会,莫斯里表达了对美国黑人和其他少数族裔生存状况的关注,以及对构建平等和谐社会的热切期盼。
  
  关键词: 《蓝衣魔鬼》;规训权力;反抗。
  
  ABSTRACT
  
  Walter Mosley (1952- ) is a representative black detective novelist and politician in contemporary African American literature. Devil in a Blue Dress, his first novel, haswon the praises from critics, readers, and even the former US President Bill Clinton since its publication. By using the first-person narrative perspective, it has depicted thehardships of African Americans leaving Houston for Los Angeles from 1948 to 1963 to realize their American dream, highlighting the oppressive living conditions of African Americans in the post-WWII American society. Based on Foucault’s theory of disciplinary power, this paper aims to examine the whites’ operation of disciplinary power in mainstream American society in Devil in a Blue Dress, explore the predicaments of African American Easy Rawlins under disciplinary power and his way out of predicaments for freedom and equality.
  
  This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter One introduces Walter Mosley and Devil in a Blue Dress, summaries the researches both at home and abroad, illustrates Foucault’s theory of disciplinary power and states the thesis statement. Chapter Two analyzes the operation of disciplinary power from three aspects of hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment and examination through exposing the living conditions of Easy Rawlins under disciplinary power. Chapter Three explores the effects of disciplinary power on Easy Rawlins in white-controlled disciplinary society,revealing the survival dilemma of being deprived of the freedom on both the body and the discourse. Chapter Four studies how Easy Rawlins resists against oppression for physical emancipation and free discourse, which presents African Americans’arduousness in resisting against disciplines in pursuit of freedom and equality. Chapter Five concludes the significance of this thesis. By criticizing the American power society under capitalist ideology, Mosley expresses his concerns about the living conditions of African Americans and other ethnic minority groups, which manifests his ambitious expectation on building an equal and harmonious society.
  
  Key Words:   Devil in a Blue Dress, disciplinary power, resistance。
  
  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  
  I acknowledge for all the people who have helped me a lot during the writing of the thesis.
  
  I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor, distinguished Professor Wang Shaoping. Her constructive instructions and enlightening encouragement shape my way for African American literature. Without her generous help and encouragement,I could not have finished this thesis. Besides, her patience and assiduity have done me a great favor for the completion of this thesis.
  
  I am very appreciative of teachers at DUFL for their insightful courses. Besides,sincere thanks are delivered to Professor Lv Chunmei, Professor Qu Tao, Professor Wang Hui and other professors in the School of English Studies for their invaluable suggestions on my thesis. Meanwhile, I would like to extend my thanks to researchers on Michel Foucault and Walter Mosley. Their contributions have made my study possible.
  
  Last but not least, I am indebted to my parents who encourage me all the time and give me enduring love. Plus, I am grateful to my friends and classmates, who made myuniversity life more meaningful.
  
  CHAPTER I
  
  INTRODUCTION
  
  A. Introduction to Walter Mosley and Devil in a Blue Dress。

  
  Walter Ellis Mosley (1952- ) is a famous African American crime fiction writer and essayist. He is also one of former President Bill Clinton’s favorite mystery writers. Until now, Mosley has written more than 30 books, most of them as mystery novels. His accomplishments on Easy Rawlins Series have won him the Upton Sinclair Award on May 20, 2010, among which the best-known work is Devil in a Blue Dress. Besides,Mosley was rewarded the Mystery Writers of America’s Newest Grand Master in 2016. The first Grand Master has been given to Agatha Christie in 1955, since then no African Americans have received it besides Walter Mosley. What’s more, the British Newspaper has reported that Mosley is “the most important black literary figure since James Baldwin” (Brady 67). Meanwhile, the New York Times Book Review states that he is “one of America’s best mystery writers” (67). On the whole, the honors and praises play a vital role in evaluating Walter Mosley’s outstanding achievements in contemporary African American literature.
  
  Mosley’s literary achievements are closely associated with his strongly multiculture-favored family and enriching education experiences. Born in Eastern Los Angeles in 1952, Walter Ellis Mosley is the only begotten son in the bosom of his parents. His mother Ella Slatkin is an intellectual Jew of Eastern Europe descent, while his father Leory Mosley is a WW II veteran and a southern storyteller. After the World War II, Leory Mosley heads for California to seek more work opportunities. As a result,he became a janitor at a public school in Los Angeles. Young Mosley attended a private black elementary school called Victory Baptist. From that time on, he began to learn African American history. In 1970, he graduated from Hamilton High School and continued to get a degree on cross-country hitchhiking in Santa Cruz. After graduation, he earned a degree in political science in Johnson State College. During this period, he got acquainted with one adviser who suggested that he should drop out for politics. In the 1970s and the 1980s, Mosley started working as a computer programmer in Mobil Oil, IBM, and Dean Witter, etc. In the late 1980s, Mosley was influenced by Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982). Since then, he considered changing his life by writing.
  
  Mosley’s literary achievements have been intertwined with his great writing ability as the followings indicate. Easy kept enrolling in City College of New York, where heattended night and weekend writing classes. For one of his classes, he had written a novella featuring a man called Easy Rawlins. After several modifications, he reworkedthe novella into a detective story. Once by chance, he gave the manuscript to his adviser at night school. Deeply impressed by its reflection of real life and particular point of view, the adviser recommended the book to an agent. In 1990, Devil in a Blue Dress was published by W. W. Norton & Company. After that, ten more books of Easy Rawlins Series followed: A Red Death (1991), White Butterfly (1992), Black Betty (1994), A little Yellow Dog (1996), Gone Fishin’(1997), Bad Boy Brawly Brown (2002), Six Easy Pieces (2003), Little Scarlet (2004), Cinnamon Kiss (2005), and Blonde Faith (2007), etc. Walter Mosley’s works have gained public praise and several literary awards. His first book, Devil in a Blue Dress, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery Novel in 1992. It also received the Shamus Award for Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. Besides, it was granted the John Creasey Memorial Award by the Crime Writers’ Association of the Great Britain. In addition,the book was been listed as the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by Mystery Writers of America in 1999. And back in 1995, Denzel Washington starred as Easy in a neo-noir film version of Devil in a Blue Dress, which has been honored with several awards.
  
  Mosley’s successful writings in all literary genres have won him public criticism, typically accompanied by numerous interviews. Owen E. Brady’s Conversations with Walter Mosley, published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2011, is regarded as the first collection of interviews, which covers a variety of topics. For instance, it records Mosley’s literary career as an eminent writer from 1990 to 2010. Besides,during Thulani Davis’ interview with Mosley, they discuss issues like the author’s emotions, feelings and experiences in the process of literary creations. The most striking interview in this book may be the third one, The Monday Interview: Walter Mosley. Being launched in 1995 with Ester Oxford, it has given the reason for what made Walter Mosley, 43 years old, be one of the hottest black writers in America. In the book, the most important points for Mosley’s popularity are highlighted by the following two aspects. For one thing, Mosley describes the subjects involved in “blacks’slummy life conditions, about infidelity, death, love, and compassion” (42). For another,“these are expressed in lush and lyrical words that rise like sculptures before your eyes”(42). Above all, Mosley expresses his views on how to incorporate the daily emotional elements into his detective novels so as to constitute a kind of everyday African American life.
  
  Devil in a Blue Dress is the most brilliant literary achievement by Mosley. In this novel, he depicts a realistic picture of African Americans and their heroic struggles tolead good lives in the white-dominated society. The story of Devil in a Blue Dress sets in Los Angeles after the World War II. More specifically, it sets in Watts neighborhood,known for the 1965 Watts race riots. The protagonist of the novel is Easy Rawlins, a war veteran. He lives a normal life in Airplane Factory, which is managed by an ItalianAmerican who requests the colored workers to behave in obedience. Easy is finally fired by the boss in Airplane Factory for being against the submissive attitude. Losingjob puts him in danger of losing his house, as it means that he cannot pay the mortgage bills on time. By coincidence, Easy is hired by a gangster Dewitt Albright who ordershim to search for Daphne Monet, a white-looking woman in the black community. Thus,Easy is involved into a private detective journey by himself.
  
  In the story, Mosley stresses the strong power relationships between the dominated whites and the lower-class African Americans, represented by Easy Rawlins. Unlike other white detectives, Easy is limited to doing business in a free manner for his loss of power, which serves as a stumbling block in his demanding for respect and desiring to reach middle-class status. In order to be able to pay for the mortgage of his house, Easy risks his life to cross different social borders of the city in searching for Daphne’swhereabouts. As the mystery is folded up, he runs into constant troubles with Los Angeles authorities, represented by Dewitt Albright, Todd Carter, and the police, etc.
  
  In spite of ubiquitous gazes and disciplines in different spaces dominated by these whites, Easy makes endeavors to be in charge of his activities in those spaces that he frequents. At the end of the story, Easy runs to Carter to report on his discovery and asks Carter for help to certify his innocence towards the police. He then decides toinvest in land property and be a professional private detective. In this way, he establishes himself as an independent citizen in control of his own life.
  
  Mosley, as a writer, has a deep commitment to African American community. Born in an immigrant family, he has always concerned about the sense of belongings.In his fictions, he has attached great importance to the identity. Devil in a Blue Dress is a successful work not only in theme but also in style. As for the theme, the novel expresses the racial prejudice within the black community in American society. With regard to the style, the story narrates in a first-person perspective with the incorporation of two language varieties, Standard American English and African American English.
  
  As a typical element of black culture, African American English plays an important part in Easy’s lifestyle and integration into cultural diversity in mainstream society.
  
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  B. Literature Review
  C. Theoretical Framework
  D. Thesis Statement
  
  Ⅱ. THE OPERATION OF DISCIPLINARY POWER IN WHITE-CONTROLLED INSTITUTIONS
  
  A. Hierarchical Observation inAlbright’s and Carter’s Office Building
  B. Normalizing Judgment in Army and Airplane Factory
  C. The Examination in Police Station and City Hall
  
  Ⅲ. THE EFFECTS OF DISCIPLINARY POWER ON EASY RAWLINS28
  
  A. The Obedience of Body Under Panoptic Disciplinary Power
  B. The Repression of Discourse Under Ubiquitous Disciplinary Power
  
  IV. THE RESISTANCE AGAINST DISCIPLINARY POWER BY EASY RAWLINS
  
  A. The Defiance Against Discipline upon Body
  B. The Production of Discourse Toward the Disciplinary Norms
  V. CONCLUSION

  The significance of this study lies in the fact that Mosley addresses stories of the black people and their racial oppression that every ethnic group encounters in America.Through the first-person narrative, he questions racial-political issues outside the mystery in terms of Easy’s role and the society he lives in. Above all, as a novelist in aracist world, in a way of representing the past, Mosley enlightens every ethnic group in contemporary society, to seek for independence and freedom with unremitting resistance against disciplinary power by the dominant Americans.

  In modern America, every individual is the core of multicultural society in nature,no matter male or female, colored or non-colored. In spite of kinds of disciplinarytechniques in white-controlled society, the colored individual should not surrender at all but try to find ways to get out from disciplines and be an independent self. Moreover,for the sake of uniqueness, every individual should assert his unique individuality in dealing with the relations between each other, resist against other’s discipline and buildhis identity as a political agent as well. Only in these ways can each individual live a normal life without constraint. From this perspective, it demands immediate attentionfor everyone to resist against disciplinary power and to construct an equal society with joint efforts.

  WORKS CITED

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