2000 Theses Doctoral
Simultaneous Diversity: Discontinuity, Entanglement, and Contemporary American Fiction
At its broadest conceptual level, "Simultaneous Diversity: Discontinuity, Entanglement, and contemporary American Fiction" investigates how the rhetoric of discontinuity entangles contemporary evolutionary theory, social theory, science studies, and literary fiction. The dissertation's main focus is a partial taxonomy of the heterogeneous field of contemporary American fiction emphasizing the differences between selected individual novels and novelists along with their commonalities. Rather than attempting to describe a unifying zeitgeist or articulate a particular formal or thematic interest as constitutive of contemporary authenticity or now-ness, dismissing non-conforming works as anomalies or residual slag, "Simultaneous Diversity" affirms that everything in the present is of the present. The result is a dynamic taxonomy of "contemporary American fiction" that interrogates the significance of each of these three terms with respect to each of the texts examined. This taxonomy remains "partial" in both the sense of being necessarily incomplete, and in the sense of being a subjective, or necessarily arbitrary, selection of texts and authors. All the novels discussed herein are in my opinion accomplished works of literary fiction that merit more critical attention, but they do not constitute even a personal "canon", much less a prescriptive one; moreover, while the examined nine fictions by six authors amply demonstrate the simultaneous diversity of contemporary American fiction, they by no means fully encapsulate that open-ended field in microcosm.
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