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Title: Unspeakable acts : stories and means of discomfort : narrative and its dysfunctions in the short fiction of David Means
Author: Langeskov, Philip
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is presented in two sections; the first (primary) section is the short story collection, Unspeakable Acts, and the second, ‘Means of Discomfort: Narrative and its Dysfunctions in the Short Fiction of David Means,’ consists of an essay identifying and addressing the role of narrative dysfunctionalities in the work of David Means. The stories in Unspeakable Acts share certain thematic preoccupations. In the first instance, while broadly realist in instinct, most of the stories examine, in one way or another, the way in which life – lived as much in the imagination as on the streets – has at times a shimmering quality that nudges it towards the mythic. The second preoccupation is with the act of storytelling itself, the way in which characters and narrators attempt – and often fail – to narrate their presence in the world in a way that allows them to make sense of their existence. ‘Means of Discomfort: Narrative and its Dysfunctions in the Short Fiction of David Means,’ represents the first critical work on the American short story writer, David Means. Close readings of his stories are made with the intention of identifying forms of narrative dysfunctionality that exist within them. The term ‘dysfunctional narrative’ is drawn from the poet C. K. Williams, who uses it to define an inability to tell satisfactory stories about the self. In the thesis, the term is used as a guide to thinking about the ways in which Means’s stories work to impede a reader’s sense-making instincts and so lead to a form of readerly discomfort. The effect of these dysfunctionalities – which occur at the levels of content and form, story and discourse – is to project the stories beyond their textual confines into a postnarrational void, an afterlife, which implicates the reader in the act of making meaning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available