Thesis

Ralph Ellison and jazz in Invisible Man, Bharati Mukherjee and Mughal miniture paintings in The Holder of the World, and contemporary styles of graffiti: genre fluidity across written and visual narratives

This thesis both outlines and tests the limits of a methodology that can be used to make sense of references to certain literary genres as they appear in contemporary narratives. While much of my argument refers to literature, as I will note this methodology is valid in reference to visual narratives as well and perhaps even more relevant. Employing both text world and possible world theory, I analyze Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man and Bharati Mukherjee’s novel The Holder of the World for their references to literary genres that are participating in conversations that additionally exist outside of the texts themselves. By referencing these genres, I argue that the authors are attempting to further a dialogue on certain thematic issues they address beyond their respective narratives. I claim that by engaging in these post-narrative conversations readers are able to better extract meaning from the novels and further their overall comprehension of what is actually taking place. Furthermore, I will address the broad nature of my methodology by discussing how it functions differently depending on medium and application.
 Citing examples from a variety of genres that aim to step outside both mainstream and academic discourses, I will argue that one’s comprehension of how a reference to a specific genre functions in any given narrative depends on their willingness to trace the initial conversation back to its roots and in some cases reframe the way they approach it. In outlining this methodology, my hope is to provide a new perspective on how academic discourses pertaining to literary genre might effectively navigate the nuances of newly entering conversations that have long existed outside of its realm and their potential reasons for existing as such.

This thesis both outlines and tests the limits of a methodology that can be used to make sense of references to certain literary genres as they appear in contemporary narratives. While much of my argument refers to literature, as I will note this methodology is valid in reference to visual narratives as well and perhaps even more relevant. Employing both text world and possible world theory, I analyze Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man and Bharati Mukherjee’s novel The Holder of the World for their references to literary genres that are participating in conversations that additionally exist outside of the texts themselves. By referencing these genres, I argue that the authors are attempting to further a dialogue on certain thematic issues they address beyond their respective narratives. I claim that by engaging in these post-narrative conversations readers are able to better extract meaning from the novels and further their overall comprehension of what is actually taking place. Furthermore, I will address the broad nature of my methodology by discussing how it functions differently depending on medium and application. Citing examples from a variety of genres that aim to step outside both mainstream and academic discourses, I will argue that one’s comprehension of how a reference to a specific genre functions in any given narrative depends on their willingness to trace the initial conversation back to its roots and in some cases reframe the way they approach it. In outlining this methodology, my hope is to provide a new perspective on how academic discourses pertaining to literary genre might effectively navigate the nuances of newly entering conversations that have long existed outside of its realm and their potential reasons for existing as such.

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