Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2015


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald Arnett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Richard Thames


Marcel Proust, communication


Philosophy of communication replaces modernity's metanarrative of progress with postmodernity's many works in progress. The metanarrative of postmodernity is fragmentation, the lack of a metanarrative. In postmodernity, progress sputters and stalls, then starts on new paths. Philosophy of communication responds to fragmentation by converging the fragments of philosophy and communication. In his life and work, Marcel Proust (1871-1922) embodied the duality of philosophy of communication. Proust recognized the false grandeur behind the gold gilding of the Belle Epoque in nineteenth-century France, and reframed progress as a series of fits and starts, where the self follows false scents in a search for self-fulfillment. Proust wrote the collection of Les plaisirs et les jours (English: Pleasures and Days) and the unfinished Jean Santeuil and Contre Sainte-Beuve (English: Against Sainte-Beuve) while still preoccupied with Parisian high society. During the First World War, he retired to the solitude of his cork-lined bedroom and wrote what many consider to be the best novel of the twentieth century. Proust's early works are fits and starts for his philosophy of communication in his magnum opus À la recherche du temps perdu (English: In Search of Lost Time). Just as philosophy of communication is a duality of philosophy and communication, each person for Proust is a duality of many superficial selves (communication) and the one, incommunicable true self (philosophy). Superficial selves communicate appearances in conversation that reflects social convention. The true self translates the essence, or cream of oneself into a work of art as an expression of the true self in solitude. For Proust, only art affirms fragmentation as a philosophy of communication.