You are on page 1of 8

Innovative Fictions since 1950

Autumn Term Richard Walsh This module examines an international range of innovative fictions since 1950, considering them both as literary works in their own right and in relation to established conventions of fiction. We shall be asking ourselves how (or if) these texts work as fictions, and what light they shed upon notions of fictional representation, fictive rhetoric and literary competence. In the seminar programme below there are two texts set for each week (I have avoided unmanageably long works like Gravitys Rainbow, JR, Ratners Star or Infinite Jest). The first (in bold) is the primary text and will be the main focus of our discussion; the second is chosen to complement and/or throw into relief certain aspects of the first, to help contextualise our discussion and to resist any suspicion that this is merely an eclectic series of eccentric fictions. Some of these texts are not widely available, and you may need to trawl online secondhand booksellers for your own copies. The editions recommended are the ones Ill be using, but other editions are acceptable if necessary. The suggested readings for each week should all be available in the library or online. For the purposes of the seminar you are not expected to read them all, but do browse amongst them for any approaches that seem congruent with your own experience of the texts themselves. At the end of the seminar programme I have also given a brief list of other innovative fictions (restricted to one per author), and a bibliography of more general book-length studies. Seminar Programme Week 2Atrophied Meaning Samuel Beckett. Watt. 1953. London: John Calder, 1976. B. S. Johnson. House Mother Normal. 1971. Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1984. Suggested readings: Ackerley, Chris. "Samuel Beckett and the Geology of the Imagination: Toward an Excavation of Watt." Journal of Beckett Studies 13, no. 2 (2004): 150-63. Beausang, Michael, and Valrie Galiussi. "Watt: Logic, Insanity, Aphasia." Style 30, no. 3 (1996): 495-513. Benjamin, Shoshana. "What's Watt." Poetics Today 18, no. 3 (1997): 376-96. Cohn, Ruby. "Watt in the Light of the Castle." Comparative Literature 13, no. 2 (1961): 154-66. Culik, Hugh. "The Place of Watt in Beckett's Development." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 29, no. 1 (1983): 57-71. Hayman, David. "Getting Where? Beckett's Opening Gambit for Watt." Contemporary Literature 43, no. 1 (2002): 28-49. Hesla, David H. "The Shape of Chaos: A Reading of Beckett's Watt." Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction 6, no. 1 (1963): 85-105. Mood, John J. "'the Personal System'Samuel Beckett's Watt." PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 86 (1971): 255-65. Swanson, Eleanor. "Samuel Beckett's Watt: A Coming and a Going." Modern Fiction Studies 17 (1971): 264-68.

Trivisonno, Ann M. "Meaning and Function of the Quest in Beckett's Watt." Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction 12, no. 2 (1970): 28-38. Wall, John. "A Study of the Imagination in Samuel Beckett's Watt." New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 33, no. 3 (2002): 533-58.

Week 3Narrative Metaphysics Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths. 1964 (1956-60). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970. Paul Auster. The New York Trilogy. 1985-7. London: Faber, 1988. Suggested readings: Alford, Steven E. "Mirrors of Madness: Paul Auster's the New York Trilogy." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 37, no. 1 (1995): 17-33. Bonnefoy, Yves, and John T. Naughton. "Homage to Jorge Luis Borges." New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 21, no. 1 (1989): 163-73. Boulter, Jonathan Stuart. "Partial Glimpses of the Infinite: Borges and the Simulacrum." Hispanic Review 69, no. 3 (2001): 355-77. Chibka, Robert L. "The Library of Forking Paths." Representations 56 (1996): 106-22. Dimovitz, Scott A. "Public Personae and the Private I: De-Compositional Ontology in Paul Auster's the New York Trilogy." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 52, no. 3 (2006): 613-33. Dubnick, Heather Lisa. "Bodying Forth the Impossible: Metamorphosis, Mortality, and Aesthetics in the Works of Jorge Luis Borges." Enculturation: A Journal for Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture 3, no. 2 (2001). Gracia, Jorge J. E. "Borges's 'Pierre Menard': Philosophy or Literature?" Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59, no. 1 (2001): 45-57. Irwin, John T. "The False Artaxerxes: Borges and the Dream of Chess." New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 24, no. 2 (1993): 425-44. Mosher, Mark. "Atemporal Labyrinths in Time: J. L. Borges and the New Physicist." Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures 48, no. 1 (1994): 5161. Stephens, Cynthia. "Conflicting Interpretation of Language and Reality in Borges's Narrative." The Modern Language Review 85, no. 1 (1990): 65-76. Wright, Edmond. "Jorge Luis Borges's 'Funes the Memorious': A Philosophical Narrative." Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 5, no. 1 (2007): 33-49.

Week 4High Metafiction John Barth. Lost in the Funhouse. 1968. New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1988. Robert Coover. Pricksongs and Descants. 1969. New York: New American Library, 1970. Suggested readings: Fulmer, James Burton. "'First Person Anonymous': Sartrean Ideas of Consciousness in Barth's Lost in the Funhouse." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 41, no. 4 (2000): 335-47.

Lee, L. L. "Robert Coover's Moral Vision: Pricksongs & Descants." Studies in Short Fiction 23, no. 1 (1986): 63-69. Martin, W. Todd. "Self-Knowledge and Self-Conception: The Therapy of Autobiography in John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse." Studies in Short Fiction 34, no. 2 (1997): 151-57. Schmitz, Neil. "Robert Coover and the Hazards of Metafiction." Novel: A Forum on Fiction 7, no. 3 (1974): 210-19. Woolley, Deborah A. "Empty 'Text,' Fecund Voice: Self-Reflexivity in Barth's Lost in the Funhouse." Contemporary Literature 26, no. 4 (1985): 460-81.

Week 5Lipogrammatic Fictions Georges Perec. A Void (La Disparition). 1994 (1969). Trans. Gilbert Adair. London: Vintage, 2008. Walter Abish. Alphabetical Africa. 1974. New York: New Directions, 1974. See also Christian Bok, Eunoia. http://archives.chbooks.com/online_books/eunoia/text.html?q=archives/online_b ooks/eunoia/text.html

Suggested readings: Braulis, Tavares. "The Void: From Borges's Being to Perec's Nothingness." New York Review of Science Fiction 9, no. 7 [103] (1997): 10-10. Briggs, Kate. "Translation and Lipogram." Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory 29, no. 3 (2006): 43-54. James, Alison. "Automatism, Arbitrariness, and the Oulipian Author." French Forum 31, no. 2 (2006): 111-25. Mawhinney, Heather. "'Vol Du Bourbon': The Purloined Letter in Perec's La Disparition." Modern Language Review 97, no. 1 (2002): 47-58. Motte, Warren, and Jean-Jacques Poucel. "Pereckonings: Reading Georges Perec." Yale French Studies 105 (2004): 1-179. Motte, Warren. "Writing under Duress." American Book Review 19, no. 2 (1998): 1. Roubaud, Jacques, and Jean-Jacques Poucel. "Perecquian Oulipo." Yale French Studies 105 (2004): 99-109. Schilling, Derek. "Belated Jewish Modernism in France: Georges Perec's Cult of Memory." Modernism/Modernity 13, no. 4 (2006): 729-45. Schirato, Anthony. "Comic Politics and Politics of the Comic: Walter Abish's Alphabetical Africa." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 33, no. 2 (1992): 133-44. Week 6reading week Week 7Fantasy and Fable Donald Barthelme. The Dead Father. 1975. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977. Jeanette Winterson. Sexing the Cherry. 1989. London: Vintage, 1996.

Suggested readings: Davis, Robert Con. "Post-Modern Paternity: Donald Barthelme's the Dead Father." In Critical Essays on Donald Barthelme, edited by Richard F. Patterson, 185-95. New York: G. K. Hall, 1992. Doan, Laura. "Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Postmodern." In The Lesbian Postmodern, edited by Laura Doan, 138-55. New York: Columbia UP, 1994. Makinen, Merja. The Novels of Jeanette Winterson. Edited by Nicolas Tredell, Reader's Guides to Essential Criticism. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Walsh, Richard. "The Dead Father: Innovative Forms, Eternal Themes." In Critical Essays on Donald Barthelme, edited by Richard F. Patterson, 173-84. New York: G. K. Hall, 1992. Zeitlin, Michael. "Father-Murder and Father-Rescue: The Post-Freudian Allegories of Donald Barthelme." Contemporary Literature 34, no. 2 (1993): 182-203.

Week 8The Interpolated Reader Italo Calvino. If on a winters night a traveller. 1981 (1979). London: Picador, 1982. William Gass. Willie Masters Lonesome Wife. 1989 (1968). Urbana: Dalkey Archive, 1989. Suggested readings: Coover, Robert. "On Mrs. Willie Masters." Review of Contemporary Fiction 24, no. 3 (2004): 10-23. de Lauretis, Teresa. "Reading the (Post)Modern Text: If on a Winter's Night a Traveller." In Calvino Revisited, edited by Franco Ricci, 131-45. Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1989. Feinstein, Wiley. "The Doctrinal Core of If on a Winter's Night a Traveller." In Calvino Revisited, edited by Franco Ricci, 147-55. Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1989. Fink, Inge. "The Power Behind the Pronoun: Narrative Games in Calvino's If on a Winter's Night, a Traveler." Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 37, no. 1 (1991): 93-104. Kaufmann, Michael. "The Textual Body: William Gass's Willie Master's Lonesome Wife." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 35, no. 1 (1993): 27-42. McCaffery, Larry. "The Art of Metafiction: William Gass's Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife." Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction 18, no. 1 (1976): 21-35. Salvatori, Mariolina. "Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler: Writer's Authority, Reader's Autonomy." Contemporary Literature 27, no. 2 (1986): 182-212. Simpson, M. Carleton. "Participation and Immersion in Walton and Calvino." Philosophy and Literature 29, no. 2 (2005): 321-36. Sorapure, Madeleine. "Being in the Midst: Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 31, no. 4 (1985): 702-10. Visoi, Marie-Anne. "Parody in the Postmodernist Novel: Se Unanotte D'inverno Un Viaggiatore." Modern Language Studies 27, no. 3-4 (1997): 159-73. Watts, Melissa. "Reinscribing a Dead Author in If on a Winter's Night a Traveler." MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 37, no. 4 (1991): 705-16.

Week 9Dionysian Excess Kathy Acker. Don Quixote. 1986. London: Paladin, 1986. Alasdair Gray. 1982, Janine. 1984. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985. Suggested readings: Boyd, S. J. "Black Arts: 1982 Janine and Something Leather." In The Arts of Alasdair Gray, edited by Robert Crawford and Thom Nairn, 108-23. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1991. Harrison, William M. "The Power of Work in the Novels of Alasdair Gray." The Review of Contemporary Fiction 15, no. 2 (1995): 162-69. Pitchford, Nicola. "Flogging a Dead Language: Identity Politics, Sex, and the Freak Reader in Acker's Don Quixote." Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism 11, no. 1 (2000). Simmons, Ryan. "The Problem of Politics in Feminist Literary Criticism: Contending Voices in Two Contemporary Novels." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 41, no. 4 (2000): 319-34. Walsh, Richard. "The Quest for Love and the Writing of Female Desire in Kathy Acker's Don Quixote." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 32, no. 3 (1991): 149-68.

Week 10Post-Irony David Foster Wallace. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. 1999. London: Abacus, 2001. Lydia Davis. Varieties of Disturbance. 2007. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Suggested readings: Boswell, Marshall. Understanding David Foster Wallace, Understanding Contemporary American Literature (Ucal). Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 2003. Knight, Christopher J. "An Interview with Lydia Davis." Contemporary Literature 40, no. 4 (1999): 525-51.

Select List of Recommended Texts Martin Amis, Times Arrow, 1991. Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America, 1967. Christine Brooke-Rose, Thru, 1975. William Burroughs, Naked Lunch, 1959. Michel Butor, Second Thoughts (La Modification), 1957. Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber, 1979. J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians, 1980. Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch, 1963. Don Delillo, Ratners Star, 1976. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1975.

Marguerite Duras, Moderato Cantabile, 1958. Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho, 1991. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 2000. Diamela Eltit, E. Luminata, 1983 Raymond Federman, The Voice in the Closet, 1979. John Fowles, The French Lieutenants Woman, 1969. Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry, 1957. Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra, 1975. William Gaddis, JR, 1975. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967. John Hawkes, Travesty, 1976. Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl, 1995 (hypertext). Michael Joyce, Afternoon, 1987 (hypertext). Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire, 1962. Flann OBrien, The Third Policeman, 1968. Thomas Pynchon, Gravitys Rainbow, 1973. Ishmael Reed, Flight to Canada, 1976. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy, 1957. Salman Rushdie, Midnights Children, 1981. Joanna Russ, The Female Man, 1975 Will Self, The Quantity Theory of Insanity, 1991. Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew 1979 Art Spiegelman, Maus, 1986-92 (graphic novel). Ronald Sukenick, 98.6, 1975. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, 1969. Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth, 2000 (graphic novel). Critical Bibliography Bellamy, Joe D. The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers. Urbana: U. of Ill. P, 1974. Botting, Fred. Sex, Machines and Navels: Fiction, Fantasy and History in the Future Present. Manchester, England: Manchester UP, 1999. Burke, Ruth E. The Games of Poetics: Ludic Criticism and Postmodern Fiction, American University Studies Iii: Comparative Literature (Compl): 47. New York: Peter Lang, 1994. Caramello, Charles. Silverless Mirrors: Book, Self and Postmodern American Fiction. Tallahassee: UP of Florida, 1983. Caviola, Hugo. In the Zone: Perception and Presentation of Space in German and American Postmodernism, International Cooper Series in English Language and Literature. Boston: Birkhuser, 1991. Clavier, Berndt. John Barth and Postmodernism: Spatiality, Travel, and Montage, Studies on Themes and Motifs in Literature (Stml): 83. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2007. Conte, Joseph M. Design and Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction. Tuscaloosa, AL: U of Alabama P, 2002. Couturier, Maurice, and Regis Durand. Donald Barthelme, Contemp. Writers. London: Methuen, 1982.

Edwards, Brian. Theories of Play and Postmodern Fiction, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (Clcst). New York, NY: Garland, 1998. Fokkema, Aleid. Postmodern Characters: A Study of Characterization in British and American Postmodern Fiction, Postmodern Studies (Pmdns): 4. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1991. Gordon, Lois. Robert Coover: The Universal Fictionmaking Process, Crosscurrents/Modern Critiques (Cmc). Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1983. Heuser, Sabine. Virtual Geographies: Cyberpunk at the Intersection of the Postmodern and Science Fiction, Postmodern Studies (Pmdns): 34. New York, NY: Rodopi, 2003. Holmes, Frederick M. The Historical Imagination: Postmodernism and the Treatment of the Past in Contemporary British Fiction, English Literary Studies Monograph Series (Els): 73. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria, 1997. Horstkotte, Martin. The Postmodern Fantastic in Contemporary British Fiction, Horizonte: Studien Zu Texte Und Ideen Der EuropIschen Moderne: 34. Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher, 2004. Klinkowitz, Jerome. The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois UP, 1984. Lord, Geoffrey. Postmodernism and Notions of National Difference: A Comparison of Postmodern Fiction in Britain and America, Postmodern Studies (Pmdns): 18. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996. MacFarlane, Scott. The Hippie Narrative: A Literary Perspective on the Counterculture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007. Maltby, Paul. Dissident Postmodernists: Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon, Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1991. Markey, Constance. Italo Calvino: A Journey toward Postmodernism, Crosscurrents: Comparative Studies in European Literature and Philosophy (Crosscurrentsc). Gainesville, FL: UP of Florida, 1999. Marshall, Brenda K. Teaching the Postmodern: Fiction and Theory. New York: Routledge, 1992. Olsen, Lance. Circus of the Mind in Motion: Postmodernism and the Comic Vision, Humor in Life and Letters. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1990. Pitchford, Nicola. Tactical Reading: Feminist Postmodernism in the Novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter. Lewisburg, PA; London, England: Bucknell UP; Associated UP, 2002. Rubinson, Gregory J. The Fiction of Rushdie, Barnes, Winterson, and Carter: Breaking Cultural and Literary Boundaries in the Work of Four Postmodernists. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. Shiloh, Ilana. Paul Auster and Postmodern Quest: On the Road to Nowhere, Modern American Literature: New Approaches (Moal): 35. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2002. Slade, Andrew. Lyotard, Beckett, Duras, and the Postmodern Sublime, Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures (Ccrll): 146. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2007. Smethurst, Paul. The Postmodern Chronotope: Reading Space and Time in Contemporary Fiction, Postmodern Studies (Pmdns): 30. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi, 2000. Stevick, Philip. Alternative Pleasures: Postrealist Fiction and the Tradition. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1981.

Stoltzfus, Ben. Postmodern Poetics: Nouveau Roman and Innovative Fiction, Occasional Papers in Language, Literature and Linguistics (Oplll): A35. Ames: Iowa State Univ., 1987. Tani, Stefano. The Doomed Detective: The Contribution of the Detective Novel to Postmodern American and Italian Fiction. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984. Tompkins, Cynthia Margarita. Latin American Postmodernisms: Women Writers and Experimentation. Gainesville, FL: UP of Florida, 2006. Varsava, Jerry A. Contingent Meanings: Postmodern Fiction, Mimesis, and the Reader. Tallahassee: Florida State UP, 1990. Walsh, Richard. Novel Arguments: Reading Innovative American Fiction, Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture (Csalc): 91. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995. Wells, Lynn. Allegories of Telling: Self-Referential Narrative in Contemporary British Fiction, Costerus (Costerus): 146. New York, NY: Rodopi, 2003.