1st Edition

The Ethics of (In-)Attention in Contemporary Anglophone Narrative

Edited By Jean-Michel Ganteau, Susana Onega Copyright 2025
    302 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume argues that contemporary narratives resist such influences and evince a great deal of resilience by promoting an ecology of attention based on poetic options that develop an ethics of the particularist type. The contributors draw on critical and theoretical literature hailing from various fields: including psychology and sociology, but more prominently phenomenology, political philosophy, analytical philosophy (essentially Ordinary Language Philosophy), alongside the Ethics of Care and Vulnerability. This volume is designed as an innovative contribution to the nascent field of the study of attention in literary criticism, an area that is full of potential. Its scope is wide, as it embraces a great deal of the Anglophone world, with Britain, Ireland, the USA, but also Australia and even Malta. Its chapters focus on well-established authors, like Kazuo Ishiguro (whose work is revisited here in a completely new light) or more confidential ones like Melissa Harrison or Sarah Moss.

    List of Contributors



    Introduction: The Ethics of (In-)Attention in Contemporary Anglophone Narrative

    Jean-Michel Ganteau and Susana Onega


    Part I

    Frames and Readers 


    1. “The thing was to make yourself invisible, she said”: Jon McGregor’s Reframing of the Norms of Perception of Working-Class Women in So Many Ways to Begin.

    Susana Onega


    2. Attention to What? The Poetics, Ethics and Attentional Economies in Dave Eggers’s The Parade.

    Miriam Fernández-Santiago


    3. Interstitial Ethics: Attending to Frames of Intelligibility in Harry Parker’s Anatomy of a Soldier.

    Katia Marcellin



    Part II

    Historical Invisibilities


    4. Attending to the Victims of (In-)Visible Violence: Elided Potentialities Revisited in Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These.

    Merve Sarıkaya-Şen


    5. From Shrouded Presence to Impactful Mentorship: Drawing Attention to the Romani Housewife in Mikey Walsh’s Gypsy Boy.

    Alejandro Nadal-Ruiz


    6. “Creating a Scene: Minor Literature and the Ecologies of Critical Attention.

    Ivan Callus



    Part III

    The Forces of Inattention


    7. Surveillance and (In-)Visibility: Reading Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon through an Ethics of Attention.

    Ángela Rivera-Izquierdo


    8. “I can’t be silent or invisible any longer”: Reorienting Attention and Care in Jan Carson’s The Last Resort.

    Paula Romo-Mayor


    9. The Ethics of Carelessness: Inattention in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

    Alice Bennett



    Part IV

    The Natural World


    10. The Ecology of Attention in Inga Simpson’s Where the Trees Were.

    Bárbara Arizti


    11. Vibrant Matter, Polyphony and the Ecology of Attention in Sarah Moss’s Summerwater.

    Angelo Monaco


    12. The Sharpness of the Post-Pastoral: Melissa Harrison’s At Hawthorn Time.

    Jean-Michel Ganteau





    Jean-Michel Ganteau is Professor of Contemporary British Literature at the University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (France) and a member of the Academia Europaea. He is the editor of the journal Études britanniques contemporaines. He is the author of four monographs: David Lodge: le choix de l’éloquence (2001), Peter Ackroyd et la musique du passé (2008) The Ethics and Aesthetics of Vulnerability in Contemporary British Literature (2015), and The Poetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative (Routledge 2023). He is also the editor, with Christine Reynier, of several volumes of essays (Impersonality and Emotion, Autonomy and Commitment). He has also co-edited with Susana Onega several volumes on trauma, vulnerability, transmodernity and grievability (The Poetics and Ethics of (Un-)Grievability in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction, 2023). He has published extensively on contemporary British fiction, with a special interest in the ethics of affects trauma, the ethics of vulnerability, and the ethics of attention.

    Susana Onega is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Zaragoza. She was granted the Miguel Servet Award for Research Excellence by the Government of Aragón in 2021. She belongs to the Research Institute of Employment, Digital Society and Sustainability (IEDIS), to the excellence research team “Contemporary Narrative in English” (code H03_17R), financed by the Aragonese Government and the European Regional Development Fund (DGI/ERDF), and participates in a national project (PID2021-124841NB-I00), financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivess (MINECO). She has written extensively on contemporary fiction, narrative theory, ethics and trauma and the transition from postmodernism to transmodernism. She has edited or co-edited fourteen volumes of collected essays (eight with Jean-Michel Ganteau) and is the author of five monographs, including Form and Meaning in the Novels of John Fowles (1989), Metafiction and Myth in the Novels of Peter Ackroyd (1999), and Jeanette Winterson (2006). She is currently coediting with Jean-Michel Ganteau the Brill Handbook of Literary Criticism and Ethics