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Narrative after Deconstruction

Daniel Punday

Publication Year: 2003

Interrogating stories told about life after deconstruction, and discovering instead a kind of afterlife of deconstruction, Daniel Punday draws on a wide range of theorists to develop a rigorous theory of narrative as an alternative model for literary interpretation. Drawing on an observation made by Jean-François Lyotard, Punday argues that at the heart of narrative are concrete objects that can serve as “lynchpins” through which many different explanations and interpretations can come together. Narrative after Deconstruction traces the often grudging emergence of a post-deconstructive interest in narrative throughout contemporary literary theory by examining critics as diverse as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Elizabeth Grosz, and Edward Said. Experimental novelists like Ronald Sukenick, Raymond Federman, Clarence Major, and Kathy Acker likewise work through many of the same problems of constructing texts in the wake of deconstruction, and so provide a glimpse of this post-deconstructive narrative approach to writing and interpretation at its most accomplished and powerful.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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title page, copyright page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-11

Narrative after Deconstruction. How should we understand the word after in this title? Narrative as informed by deconstruction? In the wake of deconstruction? Or is it rather narrative as an alternative to deconstruction? Narrative instead of deconstruction? Or, perhaps, narrative...

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Chapter One The Narrative Turn

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pp. 1-20

In the last decade literary and cultural critics have increasingly turned toward the language of narrative and storytelling to describe the act of assigning meaning to some object or textual feature. Hayden White’s once-controversial claim that historiography is a form of...

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Chapter Two Deconstruction and the Worldy Text

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pp. 21-47

In chapter 1 I have mostly accepted as a starting point the opinion stated by many critics that deconstruction is a dead end, and that for criticism to engage satisfactorily in the world, we must go “beyond” deconstruction to a narrative criticism. To understand what I have...

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Chapter Three The Search for Form in American Postmodern Fiction

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pp. 48-68

It has been a critical commonplace in the last twenty years to refer to contemporary experimental, avant-garde fiction as “self-deconstructive.” Typical is Linda Hutcheon’s characterization of postmodernism in general as using self-contradiction for critique...

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Chapter Four A General or Limited Narrative Theory

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pp. 69-86

Like deconstruction, the appeal to narrative that has appeared in its wake often seems to make broad claims about the nature of textuality in general. The problems that deconstruction poses for interpretation and critique are of course necessarily abstract. The deconstructionist...

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Chapter Five Resisting Post-Deconstructive Space

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pp. 87-106

If space is an important textual figure within post-deconstructive narrative, we could find no more important sphere in which space is being debated than in cultural theory. Indeed, interest in spatial from in literature has waned somewhat since its heyday of debate in the early...

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Chapter Six Reading Time

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pp. 107-131

We have seen that the appeal to narrative as an alternative form of textuality after deconstruction reveals a network of concerns that can be exploited by writers and critics to develop a more positive image of writing and interpretation. It should also be clear that these concerns...

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Chapter Seven Struggling with Objects

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pp. 132-152

Perhaps more than any other contemporary theoretical movement, post-colonial criticism has made an issue of the “concrete,” challenging us to recognize the complexity of the “concrete third-world subject” or the “concrete individual.” These calls for attention to the concrete existence of individuals serve an essential rhetorical and practical purpose...

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Chapter Eight Narrative and Post-Constructive Ethics

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pp. 153-171

One of the nagging issues in contemporary literary and cultural criticism after deconstruction is how the ubiquity of discourse that structuralism and poststructuralism describe affects our understanding of other people. Contemporary literary theory has been dominated largely...


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pp. 172-179

Works Cited

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pp. 180-190


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pp. 191-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487648
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791455715
Print-ISBN-10: 0791455718

Page Count: 194
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 55753850
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Narrative after Deconstruction

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Subject Headings

  • Deconstruction.
  • Postmodernism (Literature).
  • Narration (Rhetoric).
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