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2017Murphree John.pdf


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Murphree 4
meant to take the show as an accurate portrayal of the real everyday life of the cast
members. Even if we understand that there is artifice behind reality television, or believe
that behind the realness of a politician is a highly cultivated public persona, it is difficult
to totally give up the belief that the feeling of authenticity given off by these
presentations could only be the result of an underlying real quality.
David Shields believes that as a result of this contemporary cultural situation a
new form of artistic expression is emerging that will attempt to engage with a rapidly
changing and problematic conception of personal identity. They are artists “who are
breaking larger and larger chunks of ‘reality’ into their work” in the attempt to satisfy for
themselves and for others this pervading “reality hunger” (Shields 3). For the form of the
novel there are several terms to describe this shift one being “Post-Theory Theory
Novels” which foregrounds how these works incorporate contemporary literary theory as
a device rather than a mode of criticism (Huehls). The term that I will use to describe
these novels is contemporary auto-biographical fiction as this term focuses on what I find
to be the works’ central positioning in a paradox that is equally between fact and fiction
which allows them to do their work in regard to exploring new conceptions of self.
“Even if the theory novel never really does theory very well, its awareness of
theory’s key concepts compels the theory novel to self-consciously consider and
reveal its own conditions of possibility. That is, theory’s most basic demand, that
thought think itself—a reflexive, critical self-consciousness underpinning the
project of theory as a whole—emerges in literature as a requirement that texts
implicate themselves in the limits of their own language.” (Huehls 285)
Shields provides a rather scattered explanation of how we got to this cultural
moment where hazy and unstable conceptions of truth and identity are foregrounding
political and artistic conversations. Scattered, because he uses an incredibly unorthodox
structure for his manifesto which makes use 617 short sections described collectively as a