Imposing Fictions: Subversive Literature and the Imperative of Authenticity


Phillips, Thomas & Cate Rivers


Thomas Phillips is a composer, novelist, and teacher known for the minimalist aesthetic that informs his work. In addition to numerous music releases, installations, and collaborations in dance and theater, he is the author of novels, short story collections, and scholarly monographs, recent examples of which focus on horror and cultural theory. Having completed graduate work in Helsinki and Montreal, he currently teaches literature at North Carolina State University.

Cate Rivers is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at North Carolina State University, where she received her B.A. in English and minors in History and Japanese Studies. Her main areas of focus are the Southern United States and Japan. Her interests span trauma studies, nationalism, memory, gender and critical race theories, modernism, cultural representations of mental illness, mysticism, and Buddhist literature. Her ongoing research project frames 20th century Japanese novels and novels from the Southern Renaissance as social histories, with particular attention to war memory, family history, culpability, the construction of “family,” and the relation between national identity and self-conception.

Imposing Fictions aims to ameliorate the growing problem of what Martin Heidegger refers to as psychological and cultural “homelessness” by diagnosing the nature of the latter’s current manifestations and offering readings of literature that seek to inspire the genuine, and genuinely subversive, alterity required by an authentic mode of being. Specifically, it advocates for the value of subversive literature and its capacity to impose itself on the multitude of cultural and psychological preconceptions that govern the generalized but deeply personal, contemporary self. Subversiveness in this context implies pushing against the grain of identity formation as commonly dictated by the hegemony of technology. It does so both stylistically and thematically by foregrounding the imperative of figurative death in the service of authenticity. With the theoretical frameworks of Martin Heidegger and Alain Badiou as central guideposts, literary texts ranging from genre horror to American and French fiction are examined for their contributions to the legitimization of a metaphoric death drive and a concomitant, ameliorative quality of being that ultimately assumes the form of what some philosophers and fiction writers alike call love.

Literature, Social Science, Psychology, Literary Theory, American Literature, French Literaturee, Ontology, Heidegger, Badiou
Release Date: 
November 29, 2023
9781680535358 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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