Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



In monopolizing political power, the state claims to possess the best idea towards leading a society and solving its problems. While these claims may vary according to regime, all face the eventual failure of expectation on the part of its subjects. No regime can master all the variables in running the country, and so it must convince their subjects otherwise of its legitimacy, despite the reality of their failure. The apparatchik’s discourse is the interaction of the state’s discourse and that of its institutions. This discourse is used to uphold the state’s legitimacy through the expertise of its institutions. The most insidious application of this involves attacking dissidents who point out the state’s failure. Paul Ricoeur, in his work on character and identity, demonstrated the tension between two halves of human personality, the ipse, which is initiated by the self, and the idem, by society. The apparatchik’s discourse can attack this ipse and try to reduce the dissident to a state derived idem. Thus the discourse becomes a weapon in the struggle between the state and the dissident. This dissertation examines the apparatchik’s discourse through the works of four authors, Victor Serge’s Ville Conquise, S’il est minuit dans le siècle, and L’affaire Toulaév, Ammianus Marcellinus’ Res Gestae, Denis Diderot’s Essai sur la vie de Sénèque and Essai sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron, and George Orwell’s Burmese Days, Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Despite the differences in time and culture, a thread runs through their works that reveals a continuous form in this discourse in political activity and, more importantly, in the lives of individual people. Despite this similarity, there is an important degree of difference between these works. Some texts explore the discourse as a means of understanding political activity and its role in human lives, while others use it both to destroy and uphold specific people. Lastly, some try to banish the discourse completely. Through these similarities and differences, this study will explore the use, abuse, and impact of the apparatchik’s discourse on representations of the individual.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Adelaide Russo