A Deeply Satisfying Lie? : Authorship, Performance, and Recognition in 21st Century American Novels

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen

Sammanfattning: There has been a considerable amount of research done on questions of authorship over the past century or so, and the interest in the subject is still going strong today. This essay takes as its point of departure two seminal poststructuralist essays on authorship—Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author,” and Michel Foucault’s “What is an Author?”—as these texts have had a significant impact on the discourse. It examines how scholars like Seán Burke and Jane Gallop have explained this anti-authorial tendency and extended the connection between authors and death, and how their findings relate to a performative conception of authorship. The study will take as its central critical approach the study of authorship as cultural performance as formulated by Ingo Berensmeyer, Gert Buelens, and Marysa Demoor, and Sonja Longolius. It will utilize this approach to analyze four contemporary American novels—James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (2003), Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium (2006), Ron Currie Jr.’s Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (2013), and J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S. (2013)—and the different ways in which these novels problematize notions of authorial self-invention. The focus of the analysis will be on the author-reader relationship, moments of recognition, and developments in writing technology. These issues have been selected for their connection to current conceptions of the creation of author personae, which can in turn be viewed as reflecting performance as it takes place in daily life and therefore give indications as to the cultural climate in which the novels were produced. Ultimately, the aim is to have illustrated how these novels present the reader with textually traced author personae that are highly aware of their own performances. In addition, it is suggested that authors are dependent on their readers to recognize these personae for them to become felicitously legitimized.

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