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Social imaginary and narrative form under global post-socialism: Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño
Social imaginary and narrative form under global post-socialism: Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño
The dissertation develops a new conceptual framework for the analysis of contemporary narrative world literature by positing a speculative “poetics of post-socialism.” The poetics is then tested in practice through close readings of novels by disparate authors from the core and (semi)periphery of the world-system, namely Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, and Roberto Bolaño. It is demonstrated that there exist significant formal affinities between their texts pointing also to the existence of a unitary historical logic which registers in narrative forms across the globe. The discursive responses to this logic vary significantly, however, and mark distinct ideological positions formalized as literary texts. Two theoretical steps precede the comparative analysis: firstly, the argument that the meaning of the term “post-socialism” should be expanded from its standard ethnographic use, in which the term denotes changes which occurred locally in the societies formerly belonging to the so-called “Eastern bloc.” Instead, it should be used to denote a global, world-systemic condition. Secondly, the dissertation develops a theory of narrative form, or more precisely, a prescriptive poetics of narration, for the age of post-socialism. This is done on the basis of Fredric Jameson’s theorization of Utopia and Cornelius Castoriadis conceptions of the “imaginary” and “imaginary institution of society.” The purpose of such a poetics is to produce a theoretical apparatus capable of distinguishing between narrative texts whose narrative form is wholly subsumed under the dominant social imaginaries of post-socialism and those texts that use narrative form as an instrument of testing the boundaries of those imaginaries, as a terrain of creative speculation about socio-historical possibility. The literary corpus analyzed in the dissertation is evaluated according to those poetic criteria.
post-socialism, novel, social imaginary, Utopia, globalization, world-system, literary theory, historical materialism, narratology, Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño
Tutek, Hrvoje
2022
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Tutek, Hrvoje (2022): Social imaginary and narrative form under global post-socialism: Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, Roberto Bolaño. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty for Languages and Literatures
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Abstract

The dissertation develops a new conceptual framework for the analysis of contemporary narrative world literature by positing a speculative “poetics of post-socialism.” The poetics is then tested in practice through close readings of novels by disparate authors from the core and (semi)periphery of the world-system, namely Dubravka Ugrešić, Cormac McCarthy, and Roberto Bolaño. It is demonstrated that there exist significant formal affinities between their texts pointing also to the existence of a unitary historical logic which registers in narrative forms across the globe. The discursive responses to this logic vary significantly, however, and mark distinct ideological positions formalized as literary texts. Two theoretical steps precede the comparative analysis: firstly, the argument that the meaning of the term “post-socialism” should be expanded from its standard ethnographic use, in which the term denotes changes which occurred locally in the societies formerly belonging to the so-called “Eastern bloc.” Instead, it should be used to denote a global, world-systemic condition. Secondly, the dissertation develops a theory of narrative form, or more precisely, a prescriptive poetics of narration, for the age of post-socialism. This is done on the basis of Fredric Jameson’s theorization of Utopia and Cornelius Castoriadis conceptions of the “imaginary” and “imaginary institution of society.” The purpose of such a poetics is to produce a theoretical apparatus capable of distinguishing between narrative texts whose narrative form is wholly subsumed under the dominant social imaginaries of post-socialism and those texts that use narrative form as an instrument of testing the boundaries of those imaginaries, as a terrain of creative speculation about socio-historical possibility. The literary corpus analyzed in the dissertation is evaluated according to those poetic criteria.