Metafictionality and Self-Reflexivity: Postmodern Features or Countercurrent Conceptual Trends?
Although the origins of metafiction – self-conscious fiction – can be traced back at least to the very first modern novel – Cervantes’s Don Quixotte –, during the last decades, metafictionality has insistently been categorized as a postmodern feature. Due to the self-reflexivity implied by metafiction, this kind of narrative has often been considered as anti-mimetic, thus reinforcing its value as a purely aesthetical and highly speculative form of art. In contradistinction to this perspective, some critics have reinforced the fact that, through the disruption of the conventional narrative codes, metafiction proposes a mimesis of the process, not the product, of the acts of writing and reading (Hutcheon 1980). Moreover, certain critics have emphasized how its self-referentiality is intimately linked to the world vision that has been brought to light by the developments of 20th century science (Strehle 1992, Dupuy 1989). Since postmodernism has repeatedly been announced as a past event (Hutcheon 2002, Hassan 2003), I have been intrigued by the evolution of metafiction itself: will this self-reflexive form of narrative also disappear as postmodernity comes to an end? Through the analysis of several bibliographic databases – ISI Web of Knowledge and Modern Language Association – I have elaborated a series of indicators that, in the first place, clearly show the rise and decline of the number of publications dedicated to postmodernity. Secondly, I have also recollected some evidence that indicates that, in terms of academic publications, the concepts of metafiction and self-reflexivity have evolved following a quite different trend, departing from the trajectory shown by the postmodern/postmodernism/postmodernity triad.
Keywords: Metafiction, Metadiscourse, Metatextuality, Self-Referentiality, Self-Reflexivity, Anti-Mimetic Narrative, Autopoiesis, Postmodernism, Postmodernity, Bibliometrics, Quantitative Analysis of Criticism, Bibliographic Databases, Epidemiology of Ideas, Sociology of Culture
Dra. Carolina Ferrer
Assistant Professor, Department of Literary Studies, University of Quebec at Montreal