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Title:Studies in metafiction and postmodernism
Author(s):Jakaitis, John Michael
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nelson, Cary
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, American
Abstract:Most studies of American metafiction tend to subsume that movement within the larger category of a self reflexive narrative tradition beginning with Lawrence Sterne and fluidly developing through the modernist experimentation of Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner to the more recent subversion of modernist possibilities in fictions by Borges, Robbe-Grillet, and John Barth. Typically, these studies also encounter the need to define contemporary metafictions as postmodern. As a result, metafiction becomes both the logical extension of a developing narrative tradition and definitive of the postmodern.
Resolving the contradictory impulses to insert American metafiction into a cross-cultural and timeless paradigm on the one hand and to periodize it on the other requires an alternative view. Defining American metafiction as an historical period roughly coinciding with the sixties and reflective of a cultural moment governed by increasingly more pervasive second order experiences achieves this end. Metafiction then becomes both exhaustive of and a break with modernist narrative possibilities. This metafictional break, seen principally in works by Barth, Barthelme, and Coover, initiates a set of narrative practices that allow the further development of American postmodern fiction as cultural critique by authors writing in the late seventies and eighties.
Coover's career, then, becomes a model for the American postmodern period. His metafiction, along with Barth's, enacts a metafictional and postmodern break with modernist narrative practices; his more recent Gerald's Party and A Night at the Movies identify a postmodern interest in an increasingly spectacular culture extended to simulation through the invasion of media events that reduce memory and everyday experience itself to representations, to second order experiences. A similar fulfillment of the postmodern as cultural critique is evidenced in the Vietnam fiction of Tim O'Brien and Stephen Wright and in Don Delillo's novels.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Jakaitis, John Michael
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9021700
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9021700

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