The Almost Person: Myth, Narrative and The Doctor

Lehmann, Zoe Christina (2015). The Almost Person: Myth, Narrative and The Doctor (Unpublished). In: PCA/ACA International Conference. Reykjavik, Iceland. 22-24.07.2015.

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Paul Ricœur describes selfhood as the product of a communal narrative. Communal narratives structured as symbolic myths provide a narrative identity and an ethic of selfhood. The psychologist Jerome Bruner, for instance, places the source of such a narrative identity in the family, where ‘canonical stories’ are formed. ‘Home’ becomes a mode of discourse, a way of recognizing ourselves in the narratives given to us by others. This paper will draw on these concepts of narrative identity in order to investigate the problems to selfhood which face the character of The Doctor in the BBC series Doctor Who. I will identify The Doctor as a character who acts within a self-constructed narrative vacuum, reading the character by contrasting two types of personal myth-making, one ‘real’, as in a lived narrative, and one ‘counterfeit’; a conjured myth to replace and obscure the lived self. The paper will pay particular attention to the twenty-first century reincarnations of Doctor Who. I will argue that the writing of Russell T. Davis and later Steven Moffat in particular directly address this tension of myth and selfhood, as The Doctor struggles between his self-imposed role as a modern Prometheus and the insistent haunting and return of his own story. In these incarnations, his companions become mirrors to The Doctor, bringing with them their own narrative and ethical identities. In turn, it is through his companions that The Doctor is able to build his own lived narrative of sorts, which challenges his self-created ‘mythology’. In contrast to the weeping angels, whose horrific agency manifests only when not apprehended, the Doctor’s story continues to become more real the more he is ‘perceived’, both by the human race and by the viewer.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Literature

UniBE Contributor:

Lehmann, Zoe Christina

Subjects:

800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages

Language:

English

Submitter:

Zoe Christina Lehmann Imfeld

Date Deposited:

25 Nov 2015 10:58

Last Modified:

17 Oct 2017 08:46

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/73097

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