Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

Alexandre Leupin


This dissertation explores two texts, each of a different era, language and culture, to discover what they may each tell us about the role played by writing in the construction of subjectivity. Accordingly, the first part of the dissertation departs from custom in treating La Chanson de Roland less as a repository of accumulated oral performance than as a document of singular textual integrity. Militating against the premise of textual unity is the uncontested fact that the Roland is clearly divided into two distinct narrative panels. This reading reveals the manner in which the writer of the Roland integrates the text's two narrative panels by positioning 'history' against 'fiction,' and 'word' against 'deed' in order to effect a unified and, in terms of the 'subject,' unifying literary work. The argument of the first part of the dissertation concludes with the observation that the narrative divide mirrors a divide within the subject. Through the integration of narrative, the writer of the Roland effects the integration of the split subject as a newly created subject of fiction. Hermann Broch's Tod des Vergil brings to writing not the integration of 'historical' and 'fictional,' narrative, but the integration of fiction with the most intimate sort of personal experience, namely, the experience of the encounter with death. Part two of the dissertation examines how Broch, in attempting to 'realize' through fiction a prior encounter with death, inscribes into the text of the TDV a locus for reflection of his own subjectivity. Death, however, is a mirror that does not merely present to Broch the verisimility of his own representation but one that produces a new subjectivity within the fictionalization of personal experience. The two texts in this dissertation read together in a sort of theoretical complementarity, each demonstrating the various ways in which writing becomes the engine of subject creation. The Roland does so while in the process of writing its way out of the death of its own eponymous hero. The TDV, on the other hand, writes its way into death, into that dark generator of writing from which all subjectivity flows.