Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
My dissertation, entitled "Modernism's Legacies: Forms, Feelings, and Figures," explores American modernism's legacies within contemporary fiction, not only as a set of aesthetic trends but also as a looming and influential mythos. Whether the practices and concerns of early twentieth-century literary modernism are evoked through obvious allusion, explicit reference, or strong resonance on the level of narrative, the contemporary texts in my discussion together attest to modernism's continued influence on and relevance for our current era. Tracing the legacies of William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Vladimir Nabokov in the contemporary fictions of Edward P. Jones, Julie Otsuka, George Saunders, W. G. Sebald, and Aleksandar Hemon, my study reveals the myriad ways that contemporary fictions engage their modernist precursors and considers the historical, sociopolitical, and ethical implications of those engagements. Based on my textual analyses, I argue that modernism's wide-ranging contemporary afterlives call for an expansion of the concept of "metamodernism" as proposed by David James and Urmila Seshagiri, one that allows for a more capacious understanding of how modernism persists into the literature of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Drawing on narratology as a methodology to precisely detail the effects of certain narrative strategies, this dissertation demonstrates how modernist techniques and approaches are redeployed in contemporary fiction to exploit, or expose, their social, political, and ethical imperatives.
Sleevi, Shelby, "Modernism's Legacies: Forms, Feelings, and Figures" (2020). Dissertations. 3869.
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