The Poetics of Empowerment in David Mitchell’s Novels  book cover
1st Edition

The Poetics of Empowerment in David Mitchell’s Novels

  • Available for pre-order on June 15, 2023. Item will ship after July 6, 2023
ISBN 9781032308586
July 6, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
320 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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USD $185.00

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Book Description

The Poetics of Empowerment in David Mitchell’s Novels combines the investigation of David Mitchell’s novels with the introduction of a new critical concept to literary studies: empowerment. Aiming to situate and establish empowerment firmly within the context of literary studies, it offers the first framework and definition for reading fictional texts with the lens of empowerment and applies it in the analysis of discourse, the fictional characters, and the role of the reader in Mitchell’s novels. Drawing on narratological analysis, cognitive approaches to literature, and reader-response theory, it features close readings of Cloud Atlas (2004), Black Swan Green (2006), and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) and dissects the author’s strategies, poetics, and agenda of empowering fiction. This book argues for an inherent, indissoluble connection between empowerment and the telling of stories and demonstrates how literary studies can benefit from a serious engagement with empowerment—and how such an engagement can stimulate new responses to fiction and put literary studies in conversation with other disciplines.

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

2 A Poetics of Empowerment?

Zooming in on Empowerment: Concepts and Contexts

Empowerment and Literature

3 Empowering Discourse

"All Boundaries Are Conventions": David Mitchell’s Literary Playground

Chapters in an "Über-book": Understanding Mitchell’s Fictional Universe

4 Empowering Characters

From Subjugation to Emancipation: Journeys of Empowerment in Cloud Atlas

Politics, Playground Bullies, Poetry: Empowerment in Black Swan Green

Culture and Genre Clashes: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

5 Empowering Readers

Reader-Response Theory, Empathy, Cognition, and Agency

David Mitchell’s Novels and the Role of the Reader

6 Conclusion: Towards a Poetics of Empowerment


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Eva-Maria Windberger is a postdoctoral researcher in the field of British Literature and Culture at the University of Trier. In 2020, she completed a Ph.D. thesis exploring the poetics of empowerment in the novels of David Mitchell. She is co-editor (with Ralf Hertel) of the volume Empowering Contemporary Fiction: The Impact of Empowerment in Literary Studies (Brill, 2021). Her current research project focuses on how East Asian identities have been performed on the English stage from the Early Modern Era until today.