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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Zaydun Ali Al-Shara
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Creative Metacriticism: The Portrayal of Literary Theory in Contemporary Fiction
Dr. Allen Webb, Chair
Dr. Charlotte Thralls
Dr. Jil Larson
Dr. Cynthia Running-Johnson
Date: Friday, July 3, 2009 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sprau Tower, 10th Floor
Some modern creative writers have shown a talent not only in writing tales, but also in philosophy and theory as they examine questions and problems in fiction-making and the very act of reading. This dissertation examines the role the metafictive novel plays in the development of literary theory and fiction. This study explores how writers of this type of novel emerge as creative metacritics who overtly and/or covertly, through their fiction, respond to and critique literary theory. Beginning with an exploration of the relationship between creative writers and literary critics, this study sets forward the factors that led to the emergence of creative metacriticism. The inquiry examines the reciprocal relationship between the fiction of creative metacritics and important movements in literary theory in the late 20th century. All four novelists discussed in this study overtly and/or covertly assert the right to participate in the interpretation of their fiction, and in the discourse about how fiction itself should be understood.
Creative metacritics have different intentions and use several narrative techniques to address literary theory. Alain Robbe-Grillet and Tim O’Brien use covert narrative strategies while Italo Calvino and John Barth represent a more overt treatment of theory in fiction. The metacritical writers under consideration explain, correct, and modify critical interpretations of the novel genre. Alain Robbe-Grillet prefigures the principles of post-structuralism while examining the limitations of structuralism. Italo Calvino experiments with some gaps in the existing critical views concerning the role of the reader and author in interpretation to propose a more inseparable bond between them in interpreting fiction. Tim O’Brien employs techniques of narrative theory to state his philosophy about truth. John Barth modifies his and other critics’ attitudes towards the postmodern novel. These creative metacritics not only respond to literary theory and criticism, but, in so doing, extend the range of the novel itself.