Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English


British Literature and Culture



First Advisor

Ryan Trimm


In the wake of critical stances encompassing both modernism and postmodernism, we witness a theoretical preoccupation with how recent literary innovations position today's British fiction within the legacy of the novel form. On the one hand, postmodernism disrupted modernism's experiential phenomenology of interiority, subject, and character (what I call an experiential inflexion in critical comprehension of the form). On the other hand, what was declared "the decade of the brain" shifted some narrativization to exteriority, syndromic specifics, and reductive somaticism (what I see as a diagnostic inflexion in critical comprehension of the form). In considering today's British fiction within the legacy of the novel, it is tempting to position both the experiential and the diagnostic inflexions as opposing poles in a dialectical progression, reducing their paradoxical tensions to a hermeneutic that merely synthesizes aesthetic opposites, rendering them resolved in a hybrid - a new thetic point in dialectical progression. I aim to resist that temptation, for such a resolution does not reckon with the stylistic and formal peculiarities of the paradoxical temperaments and stylistic singularities we encounter in the novels I shall examine and struggle to comprehend. These novels, taken separately and alongside each other, demand a more robust critical mechanism if we are to illuminate how they contribute to the legacy of the British novel while nonetheless marking out entirely fresh approaches to inhabiting that tradition. My dissertation will harness the power of metamodernism to make a critical intervention in the reading of these novels, an intervention that puts the experiential and the diagnostic in dialogue with each other while resisting any interpretation that resolves their tensions dialectically in synthetic hybridization. My intervention resists framing paradoxical binaries as marching toward a dialectical synthesis of the experiential and diagnostic inflexions in these novels, illuminating instead distinctive aesthetic impulses at work in the formal structures of each work, and elevates the neurodivergent narrative above and beyond its potentially limited status within hermeneutic dialecticism (where it can be reduced either to pure interiority, pure exteriority, or a neat synthesis of the two).

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