Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

James F. English

Abstract

This dissertation interrogates the interconnections between catastrophe and globality in contemporary fiction, arguing that “global Anglophone literature” has emerged as a field decisively marked by political and aesthetic engagement with transnational crisis. Ongoing scholarly debates have questioned global Anglophone literature’s utility as a critical framework and argued over what texts belong in its canon. But scholars have tended too readily to enfold the phenomenon of a “global” English literature within a paradigm borrowed from anti-globalization movements rather than consider the distinct and often resistant narratives of globality emerging from literary works themselves. Against these established framings of global literature, my dissertation investigates an array of catastrophes—nuclear disaster, terrorism, pandemics, and the worldwide exploitation of animals—that, I argue, have come to occupy a central and determining role in literary representations of the global. Using a comparative method to highlight the shared urgency of catastrophe as it has been represented in contemporary fiction from around the globe, I reframe and recuperate global Anglophone literature’s importance as a literary field against critiques that have otherwise dismissed it as indicative of neoliberal politics and shallow multiculturalism. Whatever its national origins, each of the texts I examine offers a radically scaled-up view of catastrophe that transcends national boundaries and insists on the planetary nature of catastrophic damage or threat. In effect, the world as conceived by contemporary global fiction is poised in a state of explosion, perpetually expanding in scale and threatened with comprehensive destruction. As literary fields continue to expand outward from postcolonial studies and transnational studies to ever greater scales of analysis, my project thus traces the utility of “the global” for Anglophone literature in an era defined by rapid globalization and catastrophic risk.

Available for download on Saturday, August 15, 2020

Share

COinS