“Fiction is woven into all ... I find this new reality (or unreality) more valid.” (John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
Fiction creates storyworlds, ‘As-If’s, alternate realities, whole universes, shared fantasies. Metafiction is ‘meta’ because it reflects upon its own creation and createdness, it self-consciously reveals the workings of writers, exposes the construction of the fantasy. It breaks the illusion of fictional reality and provokes its readers to look at story as a product of choices which are ultimately ulterior to the storyworld itself.
In this (admittedly fairly nerdy) seminar, we will read four metafictional novels that reflect upon the reasons for fiction writing with regard to the ethics of writing, its function for personal and social memory culture or for historiography. We will look at theoretical concepts of postmodern metafictionality and we will connect our reading to the fundamental question of what literature is.
Please buy and read the following novels in a format that you can annotate and bring to class:
- Ian McEwan, Sweet Tooth (2012; we’ll start with this novel, so you’ll have to have read it before the beginning of class)
- Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
- John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)
- Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient (1992; this novel is very beautiful, but quite complex; set aside enough time to read it)
We will also watch selected metafictional films to complement the reading.
Hey, nerdy is the new sexy, right?
Please note that the first session of this seminar takes place on 26 April because the first week of term is reserved for the "How to English" week to which you are cordially invited (you will receive an announcement and programme toward the start of the semester).