Master of Arts
Dr. David Golumbia, PhD
Sonja Livingston, MFA
Dr. David Coogan, PhD
This thesis addresses the intersections of time and trauma in Stephen King’s The Shining, through a critical analysis of two key characters: Jack and Danny Torrance. While time and trauma are heavily represented topics in King’s oeuvre, they are essential in understanding The Shining’s narrative instability and flexible interpretations. By adopting a rhizomal approach to trauma and examining the paradoxical nature of the novel’s temporality, this thesis hinges upon two driving questions: Can a novel center on an inherently decentralized experience? And how does time impact the representation and operation of narrative destiny?
Drawing on Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concept of multiplicity, the first chapter examines Jack’s childhood trauma and its rhizomal manifestations throughout his adult life. This reading challenges traditional arborescent productions of narrative trauma by highlighting the complex and interconnected nature of emotional and physical damage. Additionally informed by Jacques Derrida’s theory of differance, this chapter concludes that trauma functions as a center without a center, disrupting notions of hierarchy and stability while complicating the very essence of the rhizome.
The second chapter focuses on Danny and Tony’s requisite connection. Their attachment can be characterized by the Stoic distinction of Aion and Chronos, leading into further application of Deleuzian theory, where Tony’s visions are reminiscent of the virtual as it exists alongside the actual. Through an exploration of non-linear time in these visions, this chapter reveals a temporality that is simultaneously fixed and adjustable, creating a paradoxical sense of destinerrance, as conceptualized by Derrida. This paradoxical temporality disrupts conventional narrative logic, challenging notions of linear progression and causality. However, this disruption is also complementary to the novel, adding a richness to its genre blending and adjustable character archetypes.
By applying post-modernist, theoretical concepts to the intricate plot of The Shining, I aim to challenge conventional interpretations of the novel in order to reposition it as a substantial text that examines the all-encompassing consequences of trauma through Stephen King’s distinctly American Gothic lens.
© The Author
Is Part Of
VCU University Archives
Is Part Of
VCU Theses and Dissertations
Date of Submission
Available for download on Saturday, April 29, 2028