Design and Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction

Design and Debris: A Chaotics of Postmodern American Fiction

by Joseph Conte
     
 

ISBN-10: 0817311149

ISBN-13: 9780817311148

Pub. Date: 04/24/2002

Publisher: University of Alabama Press


Reading eight major contemporary authors through the lens of chaos theory, Conte offers new and original interpretations of works that have been the subject of much critical debate.

Design and Debris discusses the relationship between order and disorder in the works of John Hawkes, Harry Mathews, John Barth, Gilbert Sorrentino, Robert Coover,

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Overview


Reading eight major contemporary authors through the lens of chaos theory, Conte offers new and original interpretations of works that have been the subject of much critical debate.

Design and Debris discusses the relationship between order and disorder in the works of John Hawkes, Harry Mathews, John Barth, Gilbert Sorrentino, Robert Coover, Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, and Don DeLillo. In analyzing their work, Joseph Conte brings to bear a unique approach adapted from scientific thought: chaos theory. His chief concern is illuminating those works whose narrative structures locate order hidden in disorder (whose authors Conte terms "proceduralists"), and those whose structures reflect the opposite, disorder emerging from states of order (whose authors Conte calls "disruptors").

Documenting the paradigm shift from modernism, in which artists attempted to impose order on a disordered world, to postmodernism, in which the artist portrays the process of "orderly disorder," Conte shows how the shift has led to postmodern artists' embrace of science in their treatment of complex ideas. Detailing how chaos theory interpenetrates disciplines as varied as economics, politics, biology, and cognitive science, he suggests a second paradigm shift: from modernist specialization to postmodern pluralism. In such a pluralistic world, the novel is freed from the purely literary and engages in a greater degree of interactivity-between literature and science, and between author and reader. Thus, Conte concludes, contemporary literature is a literature of flux and flexibility.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817311148
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
04/24/2002
Edition description:
1
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1Being in Uncertainties: Orderly Disorder in Postmodern American Fiction1
2Design and Debris: John Hawkes's Travesty, Chaos Theory, and the Swerve33
3Discipline and Anarchy: Disrupted Codes in Kathy Acker's Empire of the Senseless54
4American Oulipo: Proceduralism in the Novels of Gilbert Sorrentino, Harry Mathews, and John Barth75
5Noise and Signal: Information Theory in Don DeLillo's White Noise112
6The Perfect Game: Dynamic Equilibrium and the Bifurcation Point in Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association140
7The Excluded Middle: Complexity in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow163
8The Superabundance of Cyberspace: Postmodern Fiction in the Information Age193
Notes221
Works Cited249
Index261

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