Jesper Præst Nielsen
Emil Holms Kanal 6, 2300 København S, 24
My ph.d. project concerns itself with the problematics of representation in Paul Auster’s writing. In my research I compare the author’s early novels (1985-1992) with a selection of his postmillennial works (2003-2010) with a view to analyzing how his explorations of the topoi language and politics become increasingly explicit and integral to his preoccupation with––and critique of––the political reality of contemporary America over the years. Extensive and widely read, Auster’s oeuvre provides an exceptionally useful case study of how an American author has integrated poststructural notions of language and representation into his writing since the 1980s, but in a broader perspective his novels also represent an interesting transition from the postmodern to the contemporary novel, which we have yet to understand. As an overarching purpose, then, the project intends to address current debates on the characteristics of the contemporary American novel in comparison to the postmodern. My working hypothesis is that the former cannot be defined entirely in terms of the latter because the fiction of the new millennium introduces new concerns in Western culture and society that do not submit to the same cynicism, irony, and antihumanism that much postmodern writing has been accused of professing. Rather, a renewed faith in the signification of language, and indeed of the novel, is spreading.