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Rafferty, Pauline (2008)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
This dissertation examines relationships between Northern Irish Troubles fiction and its secondary critical literature. Producers of genre are viewed as consumers of the genre to which they contribute and the consumption of genre is seen as a pre-requisite of production. The research method is designed to examine genre systematically through the analysis of a large data set representative of the genre spectrum. It employs analytical concepts drawn from semiotics, specifically, paradigms and syntagms. Results are interpreted using Raymond Williams' "structures of feeling" and a modified version of Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model. The review of the secondary literature of Troubles fiction reveals two interpretative models. The first sees Troubles fiction as a static site of cultural production in which a narrow range of negative or false stereotypes is endlessly reproduced. The second sees Troubles fiction as a site of cultural production that has experienced a form of cultural rupture as a younger generation of writer critiques and re-interprets conventional representations. Analysis reveals that neither interpretative model emerging from the secondary critical literature fully describes Troubles fiction. Conventional critical approaches to Troubles fiction based on intuitive and impressionistic ways of seeking knowledge miss minute shifts in the genre's history. In particular, critical studies miss the return to relatively conservative thriller codes and conventions in novels published in the early 1990s during the peace talks. Critics have most regard for novels written by Irish literary authors and novels containing literary and technical modifications. The modality-orientated content modifications of 1980s thrillers do not attract literary interest. This study sees genre as historically contingent, taking the view that the relationship between the macro-level perspective of generic system and the micro-level perspective of individual novel is best explored through specific description and comparison of novels both diachronically and at the level of the synchronic moment.
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