Meta Discourse: An Investigation into Possibilities of Meta-Fictions in the 21st Century

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The old rites of literature are quickly starting to come to a head, and as we move through the 21st century we will find ourselves staring into new modes of expression of literary concepts that we have known only on the printed page for centuries prior. Meta-fiction not only allows for new ways of approaching a narrative but also new ways of approaching literature in general, including electronic literature. Questioning the boundaries between the reader and the writer, the audience and the performer, the characters in the text and the ones reading it, one might say that meta-fiction was one of the first forms of hypertext mediums in which the reader was encouraged to draw on outside influences and information to arrive at the heart of the text. This understanding of meta-fiction, then, makes it an appropriate place to begin an analysis of new modes of discourse and the variability of the messages presented. In such a textually-conscious style of writing, how does the narrative alter according to the mode of presentation while still retaining a questioning and awareness of the literary roots? How does electronic writing make itself particularly appropriate for these sorts of questions? Exploration of such fictional representations that bring to the forefront the act of writing allow for identification of several competing and differing aspects of meta-fictional works and corresponding electronic literature: the accessibility to the reader, the role of imagination and the uncertainty of the truth of its representations, a self-consciousness about language, the changing role of the author, and a sense of play about the work of writing and reading about the lives of others.

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Scott Rettberg