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Alicia Peaker

2004 Research

Abstract: Determining Degrees of Credulity: The Role of Readers in Flann O'Brien's At SwimTwoBirds

Mentor: Dr. Anthony Flinn, English

Flann O'Brien's metafictional novel At Swim-Two-Birds explores the active roles of readers in determining the level of their own belief and disbelief as they negotiate with the text. O'Brien's literary ideology is centered on the statement made by his narrator that a novel should be "a self-evident sham to which the reader could determine the degree of his credulity." But because O'Brien will not allow readers to settle permanently into either submission to or defiance of the text, it is evident that he wishes to draw attention to the motion between the two rather than make a final judgment in favor of one or the other. O'Brien's novel allows readers to come in with preformed opinions. He then exposes their preconceptions, ridicules their dependence on established traditions, and then forces them to become active in determining the levels of their credulity.


UW McNair Conference 4-29-04

8th Annual Research & CW Symposium, EWU, May 18, 2005

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