Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Committee Chair

Robert L. McLaughlin


This project will attempt to provide an outline of some of the most salient constructions of present-day literary fiction, where those constructions might overlap or conflict, and how various contemporary authors and their works might usefully fit within those constructions. This project will argue that fiction-writers following postmodernism are presented with a unique problem of how to write fiction in a way that acknowledges the problems of using language as a primary meaning-making structure without falling down a linguistic rabbit hole where a text ceases to be about anything other than itself. Beginning with David Foster Wallace, this project will focus on the ways that fiction writers Jonathan Lethem and Karen Russell are still aware of this problem and struggling to work through it, with Wallace's work serving as a kind of bridge between the postmodern and the contemporary. It will argue that post-postmodernism marks a shift in emphasis from the construction of texts and worlds to what it means to be human within those worlds, which are often unstable, commercialized, and alienating, and that all three authors write about human connections as points of redemption or escape from unstable realities.


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