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Title: The black sun of boredom: Henri Lefebvre and the critique of everyday life
Authors: Gamsby, Patrick
Keywords: Henri Lefebvre;Boredom
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2013
Publisher: Laurentian University of Sudbury
Abstract: This dissertation examines how boredom can be understood in the context of Henri Lefebvre’s (1901-1991) critique of everyday life. Through an integration of the boredom literature, both the fully developed studies as well as fragmentary passages, I argue that Lefebvre’s critique of everyday life adds an important dimension to understanding boredom in modernity. One of the leading strands in boredom studies today argues that boredom is an historically specific experience unique to the rhythms of life imparted with the onset of modernity. Viewed in this light, boredom is a relatively recent phenomenon that can be linked to what Lefebvre calls the ‘double process’ of industrialization and urbanization. Although the mass profusion of boredom has left a seemingly indelible mark on society, it has received relatively little attention in both everyday life and academia. First coined in the middle of the 19th century, boredom is a relatively new word for what today is an all too pervasive experience. Writing throughout most of the 20th century, Lefebvre makes numerous references to boredom, yet, despite claiming that a study of boredom would be a significant contribution to his critique of everyday life, he never developed an in-depth and sustained analysis of this experience. Lefebvre did, however, identify an internal dialectic of mass culture as being an integral component for understanding boredom. It is argued that Lefebvre’s theory of a dialectical process inherent to mass culture is a key for understanding boredom as an historically specific phenomenon. In organizing this dissertation, a constellation of themes are presented in order to articulate this dialectic. After exploring boredom’s relationship to modernity, I then discuss what Lefebvre considers as the verso of modernity, everyday life. Following this, I consider the contradictions of space that give rise to boredom in urban centres and suburban peripheries by critically analyzing both the production of those spaces as well as how they are consumed in everyday life. Finally, I consider the escape from boredom offered in select sounds and images of the culture industry and its opposite, the embrace of boredom in certain 20th century avant-garde art movements. Through a reading of Lefebvre’s critique of everyday life and complementary texts, this interdisciplinary dissertation is a contribution to understanding the mass phenomenon of boredom in modernity.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Human Studies and Interdisiplinarity - Doctoral Theses

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