The moods of postmodern metafiction: narrative and affective literary spaces and reader (dis)engagement

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The moods of postmodern metafiction: narrative and affective literary spaces and reader (dis)engagement

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Title: The moods of postmodern metafiction: narrative and affective literary spaces and reader (dis)engagement
Author: Baer, Andrea Patricia
Abstract: This dissertation, challenging critiques of postmodern and contemporary metafiction as humanly, politically, and socially irrelevant, acknowledges the incredible diversity of self-reflexive literature and then goes on to argue that self-reflexive writing, creating connections between art and life, offers rich ways of reflecting upon human emotional experience as a personal, social, and political phenomenon. Little scholarship has considered the ways in which the personal and the political converge in self-reflective texts, and yet the fact that metafiction foregrounds acts of making meaning as it explores writing, reading, and affect as semiotic processes, suggests that such a study is long overdue. As self-reflexive stories, I argue, underscore the processes of narration, writing, and reading, they may consider the realm of fiction alongside our everyday experiences and perceptions, thus inviting readers to make connections between their everyday lives and narrative practices.Through close readings Carole Maso's The Art Lover (1990), Paul Auster's City of Glass (1987), W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (2001), and Gayl Jones' Corregidora (1975), my dissertation places narrative on center stage, looking at the intersections between content and form, while also considering the historical and social contexts that are crucial to making sense of any literary work. Central to my consideration of these text's representations and elicitations of feeling are conceptions of narrative and perceptual space. Considering self-conscious literature's frequent use of narrative layers and how this structure encourages modes of reader engagement which may be understood in terms of (affectively charged) relational closeness and distance, I argue that the act of reading may be understood through spatial metaphors. Building upon the notion that we perceive not just physical objects, but also thoughts, emotions, and relationships, in (dynamic) spatial terms, my project explores the intersection between metafiction and affect both within and beyond text.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 2008.

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