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Title Recuperating Deliberation in Early-Postmodern US Fiction.
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Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department English Language & Literature
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher University of Michigan
Abstract Most accounts of anti-mimetic fiction’s rhetorical capacities limit them to attacks on ideas associated with the development of the traditional realist novel: for example bourgeois individualism, rational agency, the presumption that human mental experience is linear and discursive, the possibility of comprehensive social knowledge, and so on. On this “deconstructive” account, all non-realist literary forms serve the same basic rhetoric. This dissertation examines an archive of fictions that challenge this consensus, showing how the anti-realist experiments of the first generation of US postmodern fiction writers often served as vehicles for constructive, optimistic arguments about the possibility of deliberative agency in a world that takes the insights of antifoundationalist philosophy for granted. Since postmodern fiction was the archive through which our existing accounts of antimimetic fiction’s capacities were first established, this project challenges those accounts by rereading some of the era’s most canonical novels—by authors like John Barth, William Gaddis, E. L. Doctorow, and Thomas Pynchon. It shows that they are united by their engagement with the challenges the era’s philosophy posed to deliberative agency, and then shows how the distinct formal innovations in each novel generate different arguments about how to constructively respond to those challenges. This attention to the differing implications of different anti-realist forms both severs the putative equation between anti-mimetic postmodern fiction and anti-foundational poststructuralist “deconstruction,” and makes a broader case that anti-mimetic fiction’s rhetorical capacities are not constrained to the rejection of mimetic fiction’s traditional investments. The project thus provides a revisionary account of a generation of writers about whom a misleading consensus has long persisted, and offers a more fundamental challenge to existing understandings of the connection between literary forms and philosophical arguments or commitments. Early postmodern fiction emerges as a finally optimistic and constructive stage in the long US intellectual engagement with the matters of practical living in a post-foundational world, and anti-mimesis emerges as a malleable rhetorical resource rather than a prepackaged set of ideological commitments.
Subjects/Keywords Postmodern Fiction; Anti-mimetic; Fictionality; Deliberation; English Language and Literature; Humanities
Contributors Crane, Gregg David (committee member); Buss, Sarah (committee member); Yaeger, Patricia Smith (committee member); Freedman, Jonathan E (committee member); White, Gillian Cahill (committee member)
Language en
Rights Unrestricted
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:2027.42/135814
Repository umich
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2019-06-03
Grantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
Issued Date 2016-01-01 00:00:00
Note [thesisdegreename] PHD; [thesisdegreediscipline] English Language & Literature; [thesisdegreegrantor] University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; [bitstreamurl] http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/135814/1/alimchet_1.pdf;

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