Since 2012, I have been slowly working on a book about contemporary metafiction. A lot of this work was done over weekends in the last year, as a break from the more practical undertakings that I do full-time in the week. The book was originally called “Metafiction After the Millennium” and was supposed to chart a type of post-postmodern (urgh) shift. As I’ve become more embroiled in the political economies of research publication, my interests have shifted and I became obsessed with the ways in which contemporary metafiction interacts with the academy. The book is really getting there now. As a cathartic exercise, though, I thought I’d share the current table of contents and a paragraph-by-paragraph outline of the introduction.
I also don’t know if anyone else does this, but I find it really helpful to write a single line, nested-depth summary of what I’ve already written so that I can see whether, when written out, the argument makes sense and is connected. I will, probably, change some of this as the final iterations of the book come together. In the meantime, though, I hope this might be of interest to some, just to share what I am working on. I hope to publish the book with an open-access publisher when it’s ready.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Chapter One: Introduction Part I: Critique Chapter Two: Self-Canonisation and Aesthetic Critique Chapter Three: Political Critique and the University in Roberto Bolaño's 2666 Part II: Legitimation Chapter Four:
AcademicFiction Chapter Five: Legitimation and Academia in Jennifer Egan's Goon Squad Part III: Discipline Chapter Six: Class and the Academy in the Works of Sarah Waters Chapter Seven: Living On: Ishmael Reed and the Postmodernists Chapter Eight: Conclusion Bibliography
Tale of the Eloquent Peasant History of text: Metafiction Also highlights academics: disjunct of “praise” → punishment Story designed for “educated” readers Stakes of book Legitimation of fiction against the academy Ethics of metafiction Metafiction claimed as politically abortive Metafiction is part of all fiction Metafiction is critique Metafiction interlinked with university & in competition with English Canon Wars: university weaker gatekeeper Market canon processes: Eaglestone Contemporary fiction appraises works once published Linked to labour economy of the academy English not market condition of possibility for lit fiction Metafiction and Morality Targets: metafiction post-2000 and Anglo-American academic reading practices Existing studies of metafiction Reconfiguration by Mark Currie (after Robert Scholes) Merger of fiction and criticism Metafiction is critique Academic attacks on metafiction are reflexive attacks Metafiction linked to worldwide Theory-saturation of English programmes US-specific context: “program era” Zadie Smith's On Beauty Scientism and objectifying aesthetics Elaine Scarry Cyclical satire vs. engagement with literary studies Metafiction was never amoral Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow Genealogies of contemporary power The Emerging Archive and “The Contemporary” Eaglestone's not-yet-problems Ever-expanding emerging archive Problem formation Genealogy as solution Colin Koopman's reading of genealogy: twin vectors for sites of change Chart contemporary emergence as solution to twin problems Vectors: academic reading practices and contemporary metafiction Problems to which emergence responds Canon: overbearingly white male Value: claims too strong for academic contrib to literary market Competition: fiction vs. criticism Taxonomy of Anti-Academic Fiction Purposes of taxonomies Methodologies of exclusion This book: Not the campus novel Representations at sites distant from the university Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document Pragmatic exclusions: everyone has another book about academics Not books just by and for academics These works: Enact distant critiques of the university Attempt to discipline the academy Have an anxiety of academia Geographical specificity not elided Map of book
Post image by Joseph Wilson under a CC BY 3.0 license.