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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Since 2012, I have been slowly working on a book about contemporary metafiction. A lot of this work was done over weekends in the last year, as a break from the more practical undertakings that I do full-time in the week. The book was originally called “Metafiction After the Millennium” and was supposed to chart a type of post-postmodern (urgh) shift. As I’ve become more embroiled in the political economies of research publication, my interests have shifted and I became obsessed with the ways in which contemporary metafiction interacts with the academy. The book is really getting there now. As a cathartic exercise, though, I thought I’d share the current table of contents and a paragraph-by-paragraph outline of the introduction.

I also don’t know if anyone else does this, but I find it really helpful to write a single line, nested-depth summary of what I’ve already written so that I can see whether, when written out, the argument makes sense and is connected. I will, probably, change some of this as the final iterations of the book come together. In the meantime, though, I hope this might be of interest to some, just to share what I am working on. I hope to publish the book with an open-access publisher when it’s ready.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Chapter One: Introduction

Part I: Critique
	Chapter Two: Self-Canonisation and Aesthetic Critique
	Chapter Three: Political Critique and the University in Roberto Bolaño's 2666

Part II: Legitimation
	Chapter Four: Academic Fiction
	Chapter Five: Legitimation and Academia in Jennifer Egan's Goon Squad

Part III: Discipline
	Chapter Six: Class and the Academy in the Works of Sarah Waters
	Chapter Seven: Living On: Ishmael Reed and the Postmodernists

Chapter Eight: Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction

Tale of the Eloquent Peasant
	History of text: Metafiction
	Also highlights academics: disjunct of “praise” → punishment
	Story designed for “educated” readers

Stakes of book
	Legitimation of fiction against the academy
	Ethics of metafiction
		Metafiction claimed as politically abortive
		Metafiction is part of all fiction
	Metafiction is critique
	Metafiction interlinked with university & in competition with English
		Canon Wars: university weaker gatekeeper
			Market canon processes: Eaglestone
			Contemporary fiction appraises works once published
			Linked to labour economy of the academy
			English not market condition of possibility for lit fiction

Metafiction and Morality
	Targets: metafiction post-2000 and Anglo-American academic reading practices
	Existing studies of metafiction
		Reconfiguration by Mark Currie (after Robert Scholes)
			Merger of fiction and criticism
			Metafiction is critique
			Academic attacks on metafiction are reflexive attacks
	Metafiction linked to worldwide Theory-saturation of English programmes
		US-specific context: “program era”
		Zadie Smith's On Beauty
			Scientism and objectifying aesthetics
			Elaine Scarry
			Cyclical satire vs. engagement with literary studies
	Metafiction was never amoral
		Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow
			Genealogies of contemporary power

The Emerging Archive and “The Contemporary”
	Eaglestone's not-yet-problems
		Ever-expanding emerging archive
		Problem formation
	Genealogy as solution
		Colin Koopman's reading of genealogy: twin vectors for sites of change
		Chart contemporary emergence as solution to twin problems
	Vectors: academic reading practices and contemporary metafiction
	Problems to which emergence responds
		Canon: overbearingly white male
		Value: claims too strong for academic contrib to literary market
		Competition: fiction vs. criticism
		
Taxonomy of Anti-Academic Fiction
	Purposes of taxonomies
	Methodologies of exclusion
	This book:
		Not the campus novel
		Representations at sites distant from the university
			Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document
		Pragmatic exclusions: everyone has another book about academics
		Not books just by and for academics
	These works:
		Enact distant critiques of the university
		Attempt to discipline the academy
		Have an anxiety of academia
	Geographical specificity not elided

Map of book

Post image by Joseph Wilson under a CC BY 3.0 license.