Metafictionality and Self-Reflexivity: Postmodern Features or Countercurrent Conceptual Trends?

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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
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dra. Carolina Ferrer

Assistant Professor, Department of Literary Studies, University of Quebec at Montreal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Carolina Ferrer is Assistant Professor at the Department of Literary Studies of the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish American Literature from the University of Chile. Her research interests cover Spanish American literature and culture, the imaginary of the end, possible worlds, metafiction, epistemocriticism, sociocriticism, cultural dynamics, discourse analysis, film studies. Currently, she works on the diffusion processes of ideas across disciplinary fields as well as on the interdiscoursive relations between literature, cinema, and socio-political context. Since 2007, she has been developing a new methodological approach –criticometrics– in order to quantitatively and qualitatively study literary bibliographic databases. Her actual prototype research focuses on the work of Jorge Luis Borges and its relations to science, literary theory and cinema. She has published several articles about contemporary authors: Auster, Cortázar, Dorfman, Manns, Oses, Peri Rossi, Piglia, Saramago, Volodine.

Ref: A09P0797