Fedor Karmanov, *25

Department of English

Simultaneity: Multiple Invention in Literary Form



Why do similar literary styles and genres emerge—with no known connection or mutual influence—in different places at the same time? Inspired by the research on multiple invention in the History of Science, this dissertation analyzes three twentieth-century examples of independent and simultaneous invention in twentieth-century literature: stream of consciousness, co-invented in England, France, and Russia in the 1910s; magical realism, which emerges in Cuba, Nigeria, Germany, and the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s; and concrete poetry, which originates in Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and Japan in the 1950s. Challenging genius and influence as mechanisms of formal change, this project proposes a new methodology for studying literature from a global perspective. By closely examining the relationship between artistic innovation and socio-historical conditions on different continents, Simultaneity reframes human creativity as a set of invisible, collective processes rather than a linear chronology of successive periods and styles.

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