During this edition of the Comparative Literature Seminar on 18 October, Marco Caracciolo (Ghent University) will give a lecture at Utrecht University. He will speak about 'Narrative and the Nonhuman Turn'.
"I'm interested in the forms of narrative that climate science has generated," remarks a sociologist in Ian McEwan's novel Solar. This talk explores how non-human realities—including, but not limited to, climate change—raise new challenges for literary narrative and prompt new formal solutions.
Caracciolo will focus on three strategies through which contemporary fiction takes on this challenge: first, the foregrounding of non-human narrators and characters that distance readers from their human life world; second, the use of plotting devices that uncouple narrative progression from conventional notions of linearity and teleology, for instance by multiplying spatiotemporal frames or by placing a material object at the center of the plot; and, third, the blending of human and nonhuman realities through clusters of metaphorical language.
Combining narrative theory and ecocriticism, his talk discusses these formal strategies against the background of broader claims on the non-human and its significance for literary studies and the humanities more generally.
About the speaker
Marco Caracciolo is Assistant Professor of English and Literary Theory at Ghent University in Belgium, where he leads the ERC Starting Grant project 'Narrating the Mesh'. His work explores the phenomenology of narrative, or the structure of the experiences afforded by literary fiction and other narrative media. He is the author of three books: The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach (De Gruyter, 2014) Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction: Explorations in Readers' Engagement with Characters (University of Nebraska Press, 2016 and A Passion for Specificity: Confronting Inner Experience in Literature and Science (co-authored with psychologist Russell Hurlburt; Ohio State University Press, 2016).