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date: 01 October 2022

Connectivity and Collectivity in Contemporary Global Fiction in Englishlocked

Connectivity and Collectivity in Contemporary Global Fiction in Englishlocked

  • Madigan HaleyMadigan HaleyEnglish Department, College of the Holy Cross

Summary

The term “global fiction” has been applied to a number of texts that have become increasingly important to the study of contemporary literature and debates about world literature. What global fiction is, however, is not entirely clear. With reference to prominent examples, global fiction can be provisionally defined as fiction that anticipates circulating widely (beyond national and regional boundaries) and that seeks to mediate global interconnection. While that definition could be applied to a number of works from at least the early 20th century, it is especially relevant to works that belong to the increasingly global environment for the writing and reading of literature that has emerged since the late 1980s under contemporary globalization. Since this environment has favored the circulation of English-language literature, due to the historical hegemony of Britain and the United States over the capitalist world-system, some scholars have viewed global fiction with understandable suspicion. Yet works of global fiction do not necessarily reflect the ideology of capitalist globalization. Many of these works can be understood, instead, as attempts to think through what global relationships entail on a shared planet, and in tension with the dominant form they have been made to take historically within global capitalism. Such works of global fiction have sought to mediate connectivity and collectivity at a global scale in four main ways. First, works have represented new material connections between people and places within the global system that emerged after the Cold War. Second, works have explored the ethical stakes of such new connections by staging scenes of encounter between self and other. Third, works have made imaginable a transnational, cosmopolitan community by weaving together far-flung narratives. Fourth, works have sought to gather together a collective agency capable of making a more equitable world.

Subjects

  • Fiction
  • 20th and 21st Century (1900-present)

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