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Postmodernism in PiecesMaterializing the Social in U.S. Fiction$
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Matthew Mullins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190459505

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190459505.001.0001

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Rewriting Language

Rewriting Language

(p.103) Chapter 3 Rewriting Language
Postmodernism in Pieces

Matthew Mullins

Oxford University Press

This chapter recasts language, the long-standing centerpiece of postmodern metafiction and postmodern literary theory, as a material phenomenon by cultivating a non-linguistic-centered reading of postmodern fiction in the work of John Barth and David Foster Wallace. Barth and Wallace treat language not as an abstract enterprise or a funhouse, but as an actor. This materialist reading suggests that postmodern fiction is not so much preoccupied with the seemingly absent spaces in the endless chain of signification as it is with the ways in which experiences of those spaces constitute common material presences. Language is a mediator, a thing, closer in kind to the many objects that populate postmodern fiction than to the ideas one might call postmodern.

Keywords:   language, John Barth, David Foster Wallace, postmodernism, fiction

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