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Title:Contested connections: Networks and genre in twentieth-century British and Irish literature
Author(s):McCloud, Rebecca
Director of Research:Mahaffey, Vicki
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mahaffey, Vicki
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gaedtke, Andrew; Hansen, Jim; Potts, Donna
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):twentieth-century British literature
twentieth-century Irish literature
network theory
networks in literature
literary genres
Abstract:The term network can refer to any collection of interconnected organisms, groups, objects, or even ideas. This dissertation concentrates on two related kinds of networks: those depicted in literary texts and those made up of literary texts. I argue that portrayals of marginalized populations’ interpersonal networks vary little from genre to genre and can, therefore, expose linkages between supposedly distinct types of writing. My methodology derives from social scientists’ formulations of networks and from genre theories, particularly Paul Kincaid’s family resemblances approach to categorizing literature. Each chapter reevaluates both the broad parameters of various genres and specific twentieth-century British and Irish novels’ affiliations with them. Chapter 1 argues for a wider conception of espionage literature, as well as recognition of Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day as a pioneering example of that genre. Chapter 2 reveals previously unacknowledged similarities between Big House literature and propagandistic counter-insurgency prose; these similarities, I assert, justify labeling Bowen’s The Last September and Molly Keane’s Two Days in Aragon, which are typically classified as Big House novels, works of counter-insurgency literature. Finally, Chapter 3 takes up the issue of cross-genre connections through a comparison of Pat Barker’s early working-class and subsequent historical fiction. My readings show that Barker’s work from both periods validates conservative political positions, establishing her oeuvre as a network that bridges apparent gaps between genres. Every chapter of this dissertation builds upon Wai Chee Dimock’s contention that all literary genres participate in one vast, complexly linked kinship network. Despite focusing primarily on twentieth-century British and Irish texts, this project models a kinship-based method of literary study by privileging similarities of form, theme, and content over more traditional criteria such as time and place of publication. This dissertation also demonstrates the deeper understandings that can result from incorporating social scientists’ network theories into literary analysis and thereby indicates that these fields should be combined more often in the future.
Issue Date:2018-11-09
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Rebecca McCloud
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-08
Date Deposited:2018-12

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