Living in Other Places: Genre and Globalization in the Contemporary Anglophone Novel
This dissertation reframes current debates over the role national culture and international connection plays in contemporary anglophone fiction in the formalist terms of genre studies. The processes and consequences of globalization continue to vex both authors who attempt to narrate them as well as those critics who attempt to make sense of the worlds those authors create. These challenges call for new rubrics from outside the matrix of nation, world, and globe, new ways of navigating the torrent of competing theories, to crystallize a path forward for the contemporary novel and its study.
The methodological strategy I propose is to turn to the narrative logics of genre fiction, which has become newly relevant after the so-called “Genre Turn” in the contemporary novel. What readers expect when they pick up a work of genre fiction is indispensable in establishing what those novels can imagine. Through readings of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (2008), China Miéville’s The City & The City (2009), N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy (2015-2017), and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017), Living in Other Places argues that the expectations that structure the historical novel, the detective novel, the blended category of science fiction and fantasy (SFF), and the emergent genre of the global novel itself provide clear, practical strategies for both conceptualizing global, international space, and navigating that space in everyday practice. These novels do so by staging an internationally hybrid history for the nation-state, pedagogically training readers into actively noticing the elements that keep nation-states together (and apart), worldbuilding new ways of imagining a whole world, and intimating the modes of interpersonal recognition called for as we experience the consequences of a globalized planet. The result is a new approach both to the study of genre and to the question of what the novel can do in articulating a shared global system.
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