Archival fiction: Archival poetics in American multimodal literature

IVANSSON, Elin Anny Caroline (2023). Archival fiction: Archival poetics in American multimodal literature. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis demonstrates how archival poetics permeates contemporary American multimodal literature thematically, visually, and structurally. Whilst recent scholars have noted the archive’s influence on contemporary literature, my project extends this observation by offering a methodology for analysing archival fiction. This study approaches archival fiction with the perspective of literary multimodality studies and with an understanding of the archive and archival studies. To account for the unique reading experience of archival fiction, I also synthesise narratological and stylistic approaches to multimodal literature with cognitive poetics. By analysing Hodgson’s Hippolyte’s Island (2001), Shapton’s Important Artifacts (2009), and Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive (2019), I show how the novels’ codices become archives; how they play with ontological ambiguity; and, foremost, how the reader becomes a researcher. To capture the archival potential of books, I build on Pressman’s concept of the aesthetics of bookishness (2009) and introduce the concept of ‘archival bookishness.’ Across the three case studies, I demonstrate how the reader is positioned as a researcher in archival fiction. I identify three different types of reader/researchers: the oscillating reader/researcher in Hippolyte’s Island, the interrelating reader/researcher in Important Artifacts, and the descending reader/researcher in Lost Children Archive. Each analytical chapter develops and refines my synthesised multimodal cognitive methodology: To account for the effect of ontological ambiguity in Hippolyte’s Island, I combine concepts by Gibbons (2012a) and Ryan (2018) to capture how the reader is positioned to oscillate between ‘bistable reading modes.’ To analyse the reading experience of Important Artifacts, I add schema theory and Mason’s (2019) cognitive Narrative Interrelation framework. To capture the reading experience of archival gaps, I introduce the concept of ‘interreferential lacuna.’ To address the reading experience of archival material in Lost Children Archive, I use Deictic Shift Theory. I also add to Leech and Short’s speech and thought (and writing) presentation model (1981/2007) and introduce the category of Reading Presentation. As a result, this thesis not only offers insightful analysis of three works of archival fiction, but it also provides a methodology that can be implemented to analyse both past and present works of archival fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Gibbons, Alison [0000-0001-8912-9350]
Thesis advisor - Bell, Alice [0000-0001-9737-4081]
Thesis advisor - Peplow, David [0000-0001-6535-8095]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Alison Gibbons, Dr. Alice Bell and Dr. David Peplow
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2024 16:25
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 02:02

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