Cultural Institutions of the Novel

Cultural Institutions of the Novel

Book Pages: 496 Illustrations: Published: November 1996

Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

The story of the development of the novel—its origin, rise, and increasing popularity as a narrative form in an ever-expanding range of geographic and cultural sites—is familiar and, according to the contributors to this volume, severely limited. In a far-reaching blend of comparative literature and transnational cultural studies, this collection shifts the study of the novel away from a consideration of what makes a particular narrative a novel to a consideration of how novels function and what cultural work they perform—from what novels are, to what they do.
The essays in Cultural Institutions of the Novel find new ways to analyze how a genre notorious for its aesthetic unruliness has become institutionalized—defined, legitimated, and equipped with a canon. With a particular focus on the status of novels as commodities, their mediation of national cultures, and their role in transnational exchange, these pieces range from the seventeenth century to the present and examine the forms and histories of the novel in England, Nigeria, Japan, France, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Works by Jane Austen, Natsume Sôseki, Gabriel García Márquez, Buchi Emecheta, and Toni Morrison are among those explored as Cultural Institutions of the Novel investigates how theories of “the” novel and disputes about which narratives count as novels shape social struggles and are implicated in contests over cultural identity and authority.

Contributors. Susan Z. Andrade, Lauren Berlant, Homer Brown, Michelle Burnham, James A. Fujii, Nancy Glazener, Dane Johnson, Lisa Lowe, Deidre Lynch, Jann Matlock, Dorothea von Mücke, Bridget Orr, Clifford Siskin, Katie Trumpener, William B. Warner


Cultural Institutions of the Novel not only describes the institution of the novel but also participates in the very act of its institution. In so doing, the volume displaces prior novel studies, departing radically from the existing institution of the novel and setting its new course. This is, indeed, the volume’s critical promise.” — Eric Daffron, Studies in the Novel

“[A]n important collection challenging the conventional genealogies of the novel.” — Gauri Viswanathan , Research in African Literatures

“The work as a whole fills a gap in novel studies by providing a series of stimulating readings that redefine what and how the novel works, providing a powerful research and pedagogical tool that may help to change the question in college classrooms from what the novel is (or isn’t in most cases) to what novels do.” — American Society of Jane Austen Scholars website

“Demonstrating remarkable diversity, Cultural Institutions of the Novel calls for nothing short of a radical change in the basis for defining fiction from ontology to function. It provides a clear and comprehensive picture of the questions on which the next generation of scholars of the novel is setting to work.” — Nancy Armstrong, Brown University

“I have been provoked to fundamentals by the challenge of this book, and so will other readers.” — Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Deidre Lynch is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Buffalo. William B. Warner is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Buffalo.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: The Transport of the Novel / Deidre Lynch and William B.Warner 1

Prologue: Why the Story of the Origin of the (English) Novel Is an American Romance (If Not the Great American Novel) / Homer Brown 11

I. The Contact Zone 45

1. Between England and America: Captivity, Sympathy, and the Sentimental Novel / Michelle Burnham 47

2. The Maori House of Fiction / Bridget Orr 73

3. Decolonization, Displacement, Disidentification: Asian American "Novels" and the Question of History / Lisa Lowe 96

4. The Rise of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison / Dane Johnson 129

II. (Trans)National Canons 157

5. At Home with Jane Austen / Deidre Lynch 159

6. The Abbotsford Guide to India: Romantic Fictions of Empire and the narratives of Canadian Literature / Katie Trumpener 193

7. Writing Out Asia: Modernity, Canon, and Natsume Soseki's Kokoro / James A. Fujii 222

8. The Joys of Daughterhood: Gender, Nationalism, and the Making of Literary Tradition(s) / Susan Z. Andrade 249

III. The Romance of Consumption 277

9. Formulating Fiction: Romancing the General Reader in Early Modern Britain / William B. Warner 279

10. "To Love a Murderer" - Fantasy, Sexuality, and the Political Novel: The Case of Caleb Williams / Dorothea von Mucke 306

11. The Limits of Reformism: The Novel, Censorship, and the Politics of Adultery in Nineteenth-Century France / Jann Matlock 335

12. Romances for "Big and Little Boys": The U.S. Romantic Revival of the 1890s and James's The Turn of the Screw / Nancy Glazener 369

13. Pas Americans: The Case of Show Boat / Lauren Berlant 399

Epilogue: The Rise of Novelism / Clifford Siskin 423

Works Cited 441

Index 477

Contributors 487

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1843-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1854-5
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