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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Although, in some ways, Sarah Waters’s Affinity looks akin to historiographic metafiction, M.-L. Kohlke has persuasively argued that the text is more accurately dubbed “new(meta)realism”, a mode that demonstrates the exhausted potential of the form. This article suggests that genre play and a meta-generic mode, dubbed taxonomography, might be a further helpful description for the mechanism through which Waters’s novel effects its twists and pre-empts the expectations of an academic discourse community. This reading exposes Waters’s continuing preoccupation with the academy but also situates her writing within a broader spectrum of fiction that foregrounds genre as a central concern. Ultimately, this article asks whether Waters’s novel can, itself, be considered as a text that disciplines its own academic study in the way that it suggests that the academy has become, once more, blind to class.

Published in Neo-Victorian Studies. Open Access. CC-BY-NC-ND.

Martin Paul Eve, “You will see the logic of the design of this”: From Historiography to Taxonomography in the Contemporary Metafiction of Sarah Waters’s Affinity, Neo-Victorian Studies, 6:1 (August 2013), pp. 105-125.