30 Nov 1997
Abstract: This article investigates McEwan's poignant figurative use of ideas from the New Physics, his testing of their availability to quotidian reality, and determines to what extent and with what results-wonder, illusion, dementia, psychosis-the protagonist's behaviour is affected by a quantum mindset. An attempt is made to identify and define the kind of worldview and time-concept, physical or metaphysical, which is ultimately upheld by the novel's narrative structure and style, and to ascertain how far these are rooted in the Newtonian tradition of empirical realism which the book's theoretical discourse challenges. Time-reversal and parallel worlds theory are considered in the context of the novel's millenial-dystopian political vision.
01 Jan 2015
Abstract: A SINGLE MAN OF GOOD FORTUNE: POSTMODERN IDENTITIES AND CONSUMERISMIN THE NEW NOVEL OF MANNERS Bonnie McLean, B.A., M.A. Marquette University, 2015 In my dissertation, I argue that the novel of manners, while sometimes considered a moribund genre, presents itself as a genre relevant to contemporary criticism of social change from consensus politics to privatization both at governmental and domestic levels. I establish both key terms, cultural and theoretical trends, and define the novel of manners in context as a historical genre and a contemporary one. I further explore the novel of manners as a commentary on social and moral problems, particularly in tensions between social morality and individual morality that emerge when manners break down, a concept originally highlighted by Henry James. I interrogate the interplay between nostalgia, manners, and national identity, highlighting the recreation of moribund social and moral values as a means of exerting authority over the family unit and generating profit out of national heritage. Finally, I highlight the means by which literary texts cast consumerism as literal and figurative pornography that transforms the citizen into a consumer. I specifically examine the breakdown of manners through scenes of pornography and material consumption that illustrate moral depravity at the individual and national levels. The seven texts selected for my study in the new novels of manners—Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), Jeffery Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot (2011), Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty (2004), Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989), Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time (1987), Martin Amis’s Money (1984), and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (1991)—engage with neoliberalism and its social effects on individuals. Because citizens were redefined as consumers during the 1980s in both the United States and Britain, I contend that the novelists and novels in my study formulate a critique of social amorality in the same way Henry James’s literary criticism established in the novel of manners’ early study: in viewing the domestic as a politicized space, we can better understand the tensions between social morality and individual morality when the manners of a society break down in public or private spaces.
Abstract: This article explores Ian McEwan’s negotiation of the “two-culture” debate between literature and science in The Child in Time (1987) and Enduring Love (1997). My claim is that these novels update this debate by introducing ideas put forward in the field of contemporary popular science, while also placing popular science in conversation with literary postmodernism. In particular, I consider the degree of cultural authority his novels grant to science within the contemporary, recognizing both the priority given to scientific values as a basis for social knowledge and also their constructedness and therefore susceptibility to political appropriation.
23 Sep 2014
Abstract: This paper explores how elements of quantum physics might be applied to the creation of a novel. It offers an overview of the ‘Physics Fiction’ tradition. The paper considers how such elements might be used in a novel and addresses how these elements can work to support larger concerns of the text. The author provides specific examples of such applications in his own work.