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The Gamefulness of American Postmodernism

John Barth and Louise Erdrich

Series:

Steven D. Scott

This book examines the twin problems of play and game in American literary postmodernism. There have been many studies of the function of play in postmodernism, but very few have discussed the role of game without conflating play and game. This study claims that play is an important consideration in any discussion of the postmodern (as it is in any discussion of literature), but game is also useful because of its structuring influence. Game provides limits, boundaries, and borders to play, thereby both limiting and, paradoxically, enabling meaningful play. This study does not claim that literature is a game in the strong sense, it chooses instead to concentrate on the gamelike shape – the «gamefulness» – that literary postmodernism assumes. After theoretical chapters that discuss postmodernism, play, and game, this study moves to critical discussions of the work of two prominent contemporary American authors, John Barth and Louise Erdrich.