This paper considers James Joyce's Ulysses. It focuses specifically on Joyce's use of language in "Oxen of the Sun." I interpret the episode, which figures the conception, gestation, and birth of language alongside a literal birth, as a construction and deconstruction of the English language that suggests its ultimate inefficacy. I framed my close reading of the chapter with theoretical work by Thomas Aquinas, Ferdinand de Saussure, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida. I argue that Joyce, by acknowledging the limits of language even as he continues to write, reaffirms and reinscribes the role of the Artist. I contend that Joyce premeditates the theoretical trajectory of the twentieth-century deconstruction in his Babelian scattering of language. To develop this argument, I delve into the theoretical work of Thomas Aquinas' Compendium Theologaie and Summa Theologaie, Ferdinand de Saussure's Courses in General Linguistics, Walter Benjamin's "on Languages as Such and the Nature of Man," and Jacques Derrida's "Differance." The bulk of my paper consists of a formal analysis of central passages in the text, which revolves around one key passage concerning "the utterance of the Word." I deal specifically with Benjamin's considerations on naming, Saussurian semiotics, and Derridean differance.
"Joycean Babeling: Scattered Language in 'Oxen of the Sun',"
Augsburg Honors Review: Vol. 8
, Article 12.
Available at: https://idun.augsburg.edu/honors_review/vol8/iss1/12