Pil Valentin Nielsen, [No Value] Stefan, Mads Algreen, Christoffer Lawætz, Lea Emilie Guichard Nygaard, [No Value] Torp, [No Value] Hansen & [No Value] Pilsborg

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This paper seeks to understand how the notion of the self has evolved in the genre of autobiog-raphy through an examination of the contemporary autobiography The Discomfort Zone from 2006 by the American author Jonathan Franzen. The history of ideas and its tendencies have always affected and been affected by the genre. This paper will in a structural perspective present the main characteristics of the genre, and dis-cuss the ongoing inner conflict of the autobiographical genre that deals with questions of autobi-ography being truth, truth and design, or outright design. In a historical perspective we will mainly focus on the autobiography from the classical, modern, and poststructural period. It is shown how the genre in the classical period represented a notion of a clearly defined self which developed in harmony with its surroundings, then moved towards a self undermined by external influences in the modern period, before it finally was declared dissolved in discourses by poststructural theo-rists such as Barthes, Lacan, and Foucault. This statement will function as the theoretical back-ground for the analysis of The Discomfort Zone based on formalistic methods. The analysis shows how the title of the work is used as a continuous metaphor for Franzen’s discomfort with his fami-ly and general surroundings. Thus, the notion of comfort becomes the character’s narrative objec-tive of the autobiography. In the narrative resolution of the story Franzen finds the comfort zone he has been struggling to locate, by ending his project of self-realization. In the interpretation of The Discomfort Zone we present three different theoretical interpretations with the purpose of understanding how Franzen is influenced by the different notions of the self, and which position The Discomfort Zone seizes in the autobiographical genre. It is concluded that the self in The Discomfort Zone is predominantly influenced by the idea of a constant self that develops and finds meaning in spite of its restraining surroundings. Further-more it is concluded that The Discomfort Zone in a genre theoretical matter is both truth and de-sign, in the way it uses creative freedom to manufacture the truth of the retold past.

UddannelserBasis - Humanistisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato21 dec. 2005
VejledereFlemming Finn Hansen


  • Ubekvemmelighed, autobiografi, discomfort zone, Jonathan Franzen, Lacan, Foucault, Nietzsche, Lejeune, Pascal, de Man, Goethe, modernisme, poststrukturalisme