Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English



First Advisor

Valerie Karno


This dissertation explores the author-text-reader relationship throughout the publication of works of serial fiction in different media. Following Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of authorial autonomy within the fields of cultural production, I trace the outside influence that nonauthorial agents infuse into the narrative production of the serialized. To further delve into the economic factors and media standards that encompass serial publishing, I incorporate David Hesmondhalgh’s study of market forces, originally used to supplement Bourdieu’s analysis of fields. Additionally, I employ textual criticism, through Tanselle’s distinctions of work, text, and document, alongside Shillingsburg’s textual performances in order to better analyze the process that authors working within different serial media undertake from having the initial idea for a narrative, through the production of subsequent installments, until the completion of its publication.

Each chapter focuses on a different medium of publication and provides a brief history of how their industry standards affected narrative production. Chapter 2 explains the concept of the author and develops the core principles serial storytelling of renowned print works: One Thousand and One Nights, Don Quixote, Great Expectations, Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Potter. Chapter 3 details the different aspects of comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels as writer and artist form a joint authorship in the various texts encompassing the character of Superman, as well as other famous newspaper comic strips. Chapter 4 focuses on digital storytelling, primarily in webcomics, and how authors here can start from scratch and find a following as the work is serialized, especially in Order of the Stick and Goblins and how interpretive communities do more than passively receive the text.

Throughout this dissertation, I showcase how the industry standards of different media, exerted by different forms of nonauthorial agents, affect the narrative production of serial fiction. Authors adapt their storytelling to these outside factors and interweave these different elements of expectation in order to initiate and maintain the serialization of their works.



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