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Title: Reading the post-postmodern formal strategies of David Foster Wallace and Mark Z Danielewski
Author: Hering, David Michael
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
This thesis addresses the formal narrative strategies of two American authors, David Foster Wallace and Mark Z Danielewski, in terms of their relationship to postmodernism. Wallace's novel Infinite Jest (1996) and Danielewski's debut House of Leaves (2000) are substantial works, with an encyclopedic employment of large amounts of information (Wallace's novel fW1S to around 1,100 pages, while Dani()1ewski's is a little over 700 pages) and complex structuring principles. These .Jwo novels also represent the most explicit and lengthy programmatic dialogue with postmodernism that these writers have produced. The only manner in which to engage in serious and close critical detail with this element of Danielewski's and Wallace's formal strategies is to study these works in close and lengthy detail. Therefore, Infinite Jest and House of Leaves are the basis of this study, with references made to other works by Wallace and Danielewski where appropriate. It is the contention of this study that, while it has been critically posited that Infinite Jest occupies a position that is interrogative of the tenets of postmodernism, no critic has yet outlined in extensive detail Wallace's crucial employment of specifically formal narrative strategies to dramatise this interrogation. Furthermore, critical positions on House of Leaves are only just beginning to consider that the novel might adopt an combative position towards postmodem tropes. This study suggests the essential importance of reading Danielewski's novel as a post-postmodern text by outlining how, through its formal narrative strategies, the novel dramatises and interrogates its own roots within postmodernism. "Form" in this study is taken to mean both the pervasive employment of particular spatial, temporal and paratextual tropes to construct a narrative with a particular "shape", as well as an interaction and hybridisation with other, non-literary forms. The critical analysis within this study reveals the remarkable similarity of the formal narrative strategies ofthe two writers, with both Wallace and Danielewski employing a number of formal structuring principles that underpin the spatiotemporal form of their works, principles that draw from (among other areas) mathematics, poststructuralism and cultural theory in order to enact an interrogation of postmodern tropes. This study also suggests that the formal employment of cinematic terminology, theory and technique within both Infinite Jest and House of Leaves is substantial and fundamental to the post-postmodern position of both works.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.572611  DOI: Not available
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