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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Technics of Realism: Media and Social Reportage in Narrative Art After 1965
by Murphy, Daniel, Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 2017, 387; 13836456
Abstract (Summary)

This project examines realism in fiction, film, and television after 1965. Questioning the analytic power of terms like “metafiction” and reconsidering the varied legacy of New Journalism, I argue that the media-intensive strategies common to newer strains of realism reinvigorate a literary program dating to the nineteenth-century social novel. A commitment to mimetic social reportage obtains in and after postmodernism, with realistic historical fiction emerging in recent years as the dominant mode of narrative art in American consensus culture. The texts I assess index a fascination with crafting a broad-strokes, “non-fiction” political history through a media-intensive, verité style contouring the familiar designs of popular genre fiction. More than identifying continuities between older and newer realisms, the project proposes that Realism as a cultural commonplace must be understood as a formal response to a crisis of knowledge, one that is inextricable from the fact of mediation and technology’s unrepresentable impact on forms of seeing, knowing, and thinking. The analysis methodologically foregrounds the epistemic connection between technics and technique as this interplay guides representational practices and drives realism’s narratological interest in mediation. The dissertation establishes a new critical idiom for describing how different texts theorize the intelligibility of the social through its communication in technological media. Focusing on a range of artists including Jenji Kohan, Don DeLillo, Kathryn Bigelow, Thomas Pynchon, Terrence Malick, and Rachel Kushner, and assessing texts such as Gravity’s Rainbow and Libra alongside Zero Dark Thirty, The Wire, and Orange is the New Black, the project proposes a techno-epistemological account of new realism and shows how media-intensive strategies in docudrama work to theorize, and even justify, the perceived cultural work of narrative art.

Indexing (document details)
School: University of Notre Dame
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Literature, American literature, Film studies
Keywords: Fiction, Film, Media, Realism, Technics, Television
Publication Number: 13836456
ISBN: 978-0-438-83642-6
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