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Title: Negotiating endings in contemporary fiction : narrative invention and literary production
Author: Wintersgill, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0004 9352 948X
Awarding Body: University of Winchester
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is a theoretically and empirically informed account of endings in contemporary fiction. Its central claim is that for the critic, writer, publisher and reader, endings are a privileged site where different ways of making meaning in the literary text converge and where literary judgements are made. Its contribution is in seeking to enable dialogue between critical, popular and practice-based perspectives by developing a methodological approach that reconstructs the styles of reasoning at play in these perspectives. Part One examines the role of endings as a locus of critical attention alighting on particular moments in critical history where debate on endings has come to the fore. It outlines the contribution of narratology in establishing a set of critical descriptors and turns to reader-response theory to examine how we might assess the experience and discourse of literary publics on endings. The research suggest that the voices of ‘ordinary’ readers and the literary industry have been occluded in the debate. Part Two presents original empirical research investigating how endings are conceived, discussed and valued outside the academy, from the perspective of creators, producers and consumers of literary fiction. The research data comprises qualitative interviews with novelists and representatives of the literary industry and mixed methods research with book groups, comprising questionnaires and focus groups. From this research I draw a practice-based lexicon, distinct from (though overlapping with) literary-critical discourse on endings. In Part Three both critical vocabularies and practice-based discourses are deployed in close readings of novels by Naomi Alderman, Kate Atkinson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Wyl Menmuir. These readings highlight central questions emerging from the research including the role of endings in the definition of literary fiction, the author’s responsibility to the reader and the concept of ‘landing’ as an alternative to critical preoccupations with ‘closure’ and ‘completeness’.
Supervisor: Davies, Julian ; McCaw, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Contemporary fiction ; Literary fiction ; Endings ; Closure ; Narrative ; Publishing ; Readers