New rhetorics: disciplinarity and the movement from historiography to taxonomography

Eve, Martin Paul (2014) New rhetorics: disciplinarity and the movement from historiography to taxonomography. In: Metahistorical narratives and scientific metafictions. Edizioni Cronopio. ISBN 9788898367092

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Abstract

Since at least the late 1980s, those working on the lineage of the ever-nebulously-titled postmodern fiction have become accustomed to thinking about a certain sub-genre of this form as “historiographic metafiction,” at the invitation of Linda Hutcheon. Indeed, works of fiction that highlight their own fictionality (metafiction) while dealing with the nature of the study/construction of history (historiography), rather than historical occurrences themselves, through their own textual treatment of history, have proliferated. With the works of John Barth, Robert Coover, E. L. Doctorow, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo being the most likely authors to fall under such classification, in recent years this term has also been extended to encompass the neo-Victorian trend.

In this chapter, I argue that the heyday of historiographic metafiction is, in fact, passing. In the post-millennial novels of Sarah Waters and Thomas Pynchon, the two very different case studies that will be deployed here, there is evidently a shift wherein historiography becomes a subset of taxonomography; the study of history gives way to the study of genre, of which history is one form. This has consequences for academic readings of such texts, which are themselves shaped by a genre-formation process of disciplinarity, an element that current studies have overlooked and which will, here, be revised in light of the way that such fiction often addresses the academy itself.

Keywords:metafiction, Thomas Pynchon, Sarah Waters, bmjembargo
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:13400
Deposited On:20 Feb 2014 12:56

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