I can not tell what the noun for the verb is in of what is is here in this long sentence from an eponymous 2001 book on Andy Warhol by DHD Buchloh:

I shall, however, want to claim that there is a dominant trend toward the representation of a body-in-pieces, of what is, in Kleinian theory, termed the part object, that runs, like an insistent thread, a sustained subtext, through much of American artistic production (and through its painting and sculpture, in particular) in the 1950s and 1960s.

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    What is the subject.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 22, 2018 at 22:27
  • There is an X of what is termed Y that runs through Z. 'What' refers to Y. It is 'the part object'. Y is 'represented' by a 'body-in-pieces'. Turgid stuff.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 22, 2018 at 22:52
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    Which noun are you talking about? The subject? The subject complement? Something else? To make it easier for you to parse, you can rephrase it as “a trend toward the representation of a body-in-pieces, toward the representation of something that is termed the part object in Kleinian theory, something that runs like an insistent thread through much of the American artistic production of the 1950s and 1960s, particularly painting and sculpture”. It is a very long sentence that tries to stuff in too many constituents and sometimes places them in ways that make it harder to parse. Jan 22, 2018 at 23:27
  • @NigelJ Thanks for the reply. So, what is X here? Thanks again. Jan 23, 2018 at 19:18
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thanks for the reply. So, are they using rules for parellel structures? I mean- "the representation of a body-in-pieces, of what is," actually means "the representation of a body-in-pieces, the representation of what is,". Thanks. Jan 23, 2018 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


krishe, first let's strip away parenthetical material that doesn't affect the basic structure; we're left with the prepositional phrase "of what is termed the part object". "Of" is the preposition, and "what is termed the part object" is the object of the preposition. This prepositional object is a noun clause cast in the present passive ("is termed"). The relative pronoun "what" is the subject of the passive verb phrase, and the noun phrase "the part object" is the object of the passive verb phrase. Lune

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