The gender of the neuronovel: Joyce Carol Oates and the double brain

Burn, S. J. (2021) The gender of the neuronovel: Joyce Carol Oates and the double brain. European Journal of American Studies, 16(4), (doi: 10.4000/ejas.17459)

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For good reasons, most criticism of the term neuronovel has focused on the impact that the eye-catching and fashionable prefix “neuro” has upon the stem, “novel.” For less clear reasons, the canon of neuronovels (primarily bequeathed by Marco Roth) has tended to pivot on a homogeneously white-male axis, dominated by Mark Haddon, Jonathan Lethem, Ian McEwan, and Richard Powers. This essay explores what we might learn by enlarging the scale of our analysis and looking beyond the novel, to see how a writer’s engagement with neuroculture evolves across novels, poems, and short fictions; and looking beyond the familiar cast of “neuronovelists” to resist its gender asymmetry. Because Joyce Carol Oates’s writing about the brain both spans almost half a century, and crosses multiple genres, this essay takes her evolving engagement with split-brain research as a test case to explore how her work highlights the limitations of the label neuronovel. This exploration traces Oates’s changing sense of how we might write about consciousness in the age of neuroscience, as her work develops from reflections on the raw material of consciousness in Wonderland (1971) to her sophisticated and innovative use of split-brain narration in The Man Without a Shadow (2016).

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Burn, Professor Stephen
Authors: Burn, S. J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PS American literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:European Journal of American Studies
Publisher:European Association for American Studies
ISSN (Online):1991-9336
Published Online:20 December 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author
First Published:First published in European Journal of American Studies 16(4)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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