The self-begetting novel: metafiction in the twenty-first century

Hollyman, S (2014) The self-begetting novel: metafiction in the twenty-first century. PhD thesis, Manchester Metropolitan University.

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The thesis examines the potentialities offered by social networking websites for constructing original metafictional narratives. It comprises a novel, a critical exegesis, and three Facebook pages which are attributed to fictional characters and used as a plot-development tool. Readers ‘befriend’ the characters and place themselves within the fabric of the fictional narrative. The result is a collaborative storytelling experience which evolves in real time and forms the basis of the print novel Esc&Ctrl. The exegesis places the creative piece into a contemporary research context. In chapter one I provide an account of the evolution of metafiction and the self- begetting novel with reference to the works of William H. Gass, Steven Kellman and Patricia Waugh. I also account for the problem of authenticity in fiction, and use Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative to demonstrate the ways in which the temporal spectrum of an online narrative differs from that of traditional print text. Chapter two argues that the evolution of the internet offers a new set of conditions that necessitate a radical overhaul of the ways in which postmodernity tends to be theorised, and according to which postmodern theories may be reconfigured. Referencing Jean-Francois Lyotard, I discuss the micronarratives of the internet and how these lead to the formation of an online ‘self’ which is necessarily different from a self located in the offline realm. Jean Baudrillard’s concept of the loss of the real is extrapolated in order to show that the internet, and particularly social networking sites, are representative of a simulated culture. The chapter ends with a definition of what I have called ‘metafictional virtuality’ and a summary of how it could be said to impact postmodern consciousness. Chapter three examines the new creative vistas opened up by hypertext, social networking and transmedia fiction for metafiction and the self-begetting novel. Referencing the works of Wayne C. Booth, Wolfgang Iser and Stanley Fish, I explore the role of the reader in attributing meaning to hypertext. I then examine the advantages and shortcomings of using social networking to tell stories, with specific reference to the critical work of Ruth Page and the practical example of the online counterpart to Esc&Ctrl. Chapter four provides an account of the mechanics of setting up, maintaining and operating the Facebook pages I used in the project. It ends with a statistical analysis of reader-engagement throughout the eight days that the project was live. I conclude by evaluating the strengths and shortcomings of the social networking narrative and account for how its basic principles might be applied to newly-emerging technologies such as the soon-to-be-released Google Glass.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2018 15:04
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2022 19:49
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