Belonging and Narrative

A Theory of the American Novel

Why did the novel become so popular in the past three centuries, and how did the American novel contribute to this trend? As a key provider of the narrative frames and formulas needed by modern individuals to give meaning and mooring to their lives. Drawing on phenomenological hermeneutics, human geography and social psychology, Laura Bieger contends that belonging is not a given; it is continuously produced by narrative. Against the current emphasis on metaphors of movement and destabilization, she explores the salience and significance of home. Challenging views of narrative as a mechanism of ideology, she approaches narrative as a practical component of dwelling in the world – and the novel a primary place-making agent.

34,99 € *

15. Oktober 2018, 182 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-4600-9

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Laura Bieger

Laura Bieger, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Niederlande

1. Why did You choose this topic?

The choice was at once very personal (I have been asking myself where and how I belong all my life, and after my dissertation, I wondered whether academia was the right place for me, if I would fit) and very general (I was intrigued by the fact that even in our thoroughly mobilized world people need to make themselves at home somehow). This was my starting point. And the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that the human need to belong might be narrative's raison-d'être.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

It offers a narrative theory based on the human need to belong. That in itself is new, and it goes hand in hand with foregrounding narrative use, not structure or representation. Moreover, and crucially, it explores a vastly neglected dimension of narrative: its ties to space and place; or, from the perspective of use, to building and dwelling. And finally, it offers a fresh view on the novel, especially the American novel, and its success as a literary genre based on these ideas.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Its challenge to prevailing views of narrative as a mechanism of ideology. Drawing on phenomenological hermeneutics, human geography and social psychology, I contend that narrative gives meaning and mooring to our lives. Against the current emphasis on metaphors of movement and destabilization, I explore the salience and significance of home. And against lasting assumptions about the novel as a symptom of alienation, I approach it as a place and home-making agent.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

My ideal interlocutor would be a mix of Salman Rushdie (for his insights into narrative's place- and homemaking capacities as a writer, a post-colonial subject and an exile) and Miranda July (for her edgy and clever explorations of current concerns with belonging across different media).

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

It offers a theory of narrative that interlinks art and use, the history of the American novel and philosophical problem of dwelling in the world.

O-Ton: »US elections: is US media more polarized than the people?« – Laura Bieger in The Northern Times on 02.12.2020.
Besprochen in:
IDA-NRW, 4 (2018)
Laura Bieger
Belonging and Narrative A Theory of the American Novel
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung, 1 SW-Abbildung
LIT004020 HIS054000
15. Oktober 2018
Literatur, Amerika
American Studies, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies
Narrative Theory, American Novel, Space and Place, Literature, America, American Studies, Cultural History, Cultural Studies, Literary Studies

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