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Gothic faultlines : multimodal American literature and the collective reading enterprise.

Fisher, Emily (2019) Gothic faultlines : multimodal American literature and the collective reading enterprise. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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Abstract

The Gothic in the post-millennial period offers writers an anchoring point, a site of familiarity for the reader, in the midst of an evolving culture of reading. Moving beyond recognising the binary conception of old vs new media, at stake in this thesis is the reader’s approach to the text in light of digital developments to reading habits. The evolution of digital technologies that have influenced approaches to reading include our ability to process vast amounts of data in quick succession through hyperlinks, and the capacity to locate relevant data amongst an endless flow in a non-linear, multi-cursal format: recognised as ‘browsing or ‘surfing’ the web. This style of reading is indicative of the pathways through a labyrinth: a key motif for the digital posited by a range of critics included in this thesis such as Pierre Lèvy (1997), Espen J. Aarseth (1997), N. Katherine Hayles (2008) and Marie-Laure Ryan (2015). For the post-millennial novel, it is the changes that have occurred in light of digital reading practices that has led to the re-birth of the reader, not as an individual, but as a collective. Readers of the multimodal novel are driven by the physical responses required of them by the Gothic mode in a moment of boundary transgression of the storyworld and actual world: a Gothic faultline. In the following chapters, I locate the authors’ use of familiar Gothic tropes in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park (2005), JJ Abrams’ and Doug Dorst’s S. (2013) and Zachary Dodson’s Bats of the Republic (2015) as a way of situating the reader in familiar territory. These tropes anchor the reader’s navigation through complex narrative structures. It is then possible to identify the moment at which the reader becomes conscious of their direct involvement in the storyworld, an affective and physical experience that can be conceptualised through the Lacanian term extimacy. Spanning both the interior of the print novel and external digital platforms that expand the storyworld, I conceptualise the reader’s experience using Garrett Stewart’s (1997) ‘Gothic of reading’ to underpin the process of activation a reader of Gothic fiction experiences. Consequently, I argue that the reader is no longer a mere consumer of entertainment, but an investigator, collaborator, code-breaker, and sometimes even a translator. The Gothic, it seems, is the ideal mode to capture both the anxieties of the digital present whilst harnessing recognisable forms to ease readers into the demands of the multimodal novel.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Fisher, Emily
Date : 30 April 2019
Funders : AHRC/TECHNE DTP
DOI : 10.15126/thesis.00850978
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THSNicol, Branb.nicol@surrey.ac.uk
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THSJohns-Putra, Adelinea.johns-putra@surrey.ac.uk
Depositing User : Emily Fisher
Date Deposited : 16 May 2019 07:40
Last Modified : 16 May 2019 07:41
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/850978

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