La Trobe
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Clockwork Man: a novel and exegesis

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posted on 2023-01-18, 18:09 authored by Patricia O'Reilly
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Humanities, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

The thesis consists of a novel and an accompanying critical work. The novel, entitled Clockwork Man, tells the story of three people whose bodies have been transformed either by remedial or cosmetic medical procedures. Leon, an Australian man, has a hole though [ie through] his chest inside which sits a mechanical heart. Kathryn, an Irish woman, has a body covered in black wool, an unexpected side effect of gene therapy for Huntington’s disease. Greek Christos is a performance artist who has had carbon fibre and metal composite wings implanted onto his back. The wings can be moved by muscles in his body but they are for performance only (he cannot fly). The three people are brought together as an uncanny performance group by an American entrepreneur and become a global sensation. Their resulting fame and wealth, together with their physical transformations, attract fans and enemies who desire or despise or fear them, and sometimes do all three at once. What makes them objects of fascination also places them in danger. The accompanying work, Rendering: the autobiography of a novel, is an attempt to perform the uncanny in a text exploring aspects of my research for the novel and the rendering of the uncanny in all writing and reading. Rendering brings the doubling of writer and reader into the multiplicities of textual readings, with commentary by and dialogue with Freud and Cixous from their papers ‘The Uncanny’ and ‘Fiction and Its Phantoms: A Reading of Freud's Das Unheimliche.’ Rendering travels the writing and reading of becoming an avatar in Second Life, performance art that manipulates and mutates the body, and the uncanny life within death within life of automata and human cells.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of Humanities.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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