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date: 21 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the evolution of three types of improvisation: a mode of literary composition, a method through which to advocate social change, and a theoretical practice. The theory that attempts to account for such improvisational strategies both simulates the material activity of improvisation and identifies the presence of improvisation itself as indicative of the first stage in an emerging literary genre. The chapter demonstrates the interrelated operations of these strategies through applied analyses of two texts, Mark Z. Danielewski’s experimental haunted-house novel House of Leaves (2000) and Edward P. Jones’s neo-slave narrative The Known World (2003). The argument locates improvisatory techniques in these two novels; examines the ways in which they diverge from preexisting theoretical trends in the fields of improvisation studies, postmodernist fiction, and the neo-slave narrative; and identifies these new improvisatory modes as signs of hitherto uncategorized literary forms.

Keywords: improvisation, literature, House of Leaves, The Known World, postmodernism, neo-slave, narrative

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