Roarke McDonald Dr. Angelo Castagnino


This was a year-long project studying the innovations in psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature as they relate to new notions of identity and selfhood in the Modernist period (1890-1945). Significant research has been done in Italian academic circles into Pirandello’s fiction, and Heidegger’s work remains a topic of contention in modern philosophy. However, there have been fewer multi-plural studies in the modernist tradition, and understanding how technological, industrial, and socio-geographical changes of the period were felt across a range of fields is the goal of this thesis. I analyze the existential uncertainty of Vitangelo Moscarda, the protagonist of Luigi Pirandello’s novel One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand, in conversation with Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological approach to being and the alterations of personality and cohabiting identities charted by psychologist Alfred Binet. I study how Pirandello addresses the social, cultural, and political shifts of the period in Italy, and how they impacted the placement of the individual in the broader social fabric, and influenced ideas of identity and selfhood. The novel demonstrates a more fluid, provisional view of identity that is representative of Heidegger, Binet, and Pirandello’s views of selfhood, and an emphasis on a “process ontology” that is found throughout modernist works. Through this investigation into Pirandello’s fiction, we find the possibility for further study in interdisciplinary, comparative studies of modernism. 



How to Cite

Studies of Identity in Modernity: Literary, Phenomenological, and Psychoanalytic Approaches. (2024). University of Denver Undergraduate Research Journal, 5. https://duurjportal.com/index.php/duurj/article/view/226