BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Heidi's Years of Learning and Travel: Late-Pynchon's Academics

    Eve, Martin Paul (2015) Heidi's Years of Learning and Travel: Late-Pynchon's Academics. In: International Pynchon Week, 8-12 June 2015, Athens, Greece. (Unpublished)

    Text (Talk text)
    Martin Eve - Pynchon Paper.pdf - Draft Version
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

    Download (70kB) | Preview


    Towards the end of Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel, Bleeding Edge [2013], the reader is introduced to the academic research of Heidi, a character who is working on an article for the “Journal of Memespace Cartography” (334-5). Clearly supposed to be humorous, the passage ridicules the academic debates over irony and sincerity that have raged in recent years as a result of David Foster Wallace's well-known essay, “E Unibus Pluram”, a piece that itself targets Pynchon. Despite its parodic nature, however, this passage is symptomatic of a broader trend in Pynchon's later writing: direct engagement with and representation of academic communities. Indeed, Bleeding Edge parodies Lacan throughout (2, 245) and mocks the academic who uses the terms “post-postmodern” and “neo-Brechtian subversion of the diegesis” (9). Likewise, Pynchon's preceding novel, Inherent Vice [2011], connected the supposedly innocent academics working on the ARPAnet to the sinister histories of the ICBM traced in his earlier work, Gravity's Rainbow [1973]. This paper, focusing primarily upon Inherent Vice and Bleeding Edge, will examine the ways in which Pynchon's later novels attempt to interpellate their academic readers through various forms of parody. Arguing that this is, in some ways, a continuation of a strategy that Pynchon has deployed since his earliest work (as noted by Mark McGurl in his seminal book, The Program Era), this paper will conclude that the author's later uses of this technique are more overtly didactic and political than in his early novels and more explicitly connected to specific moments of American catastrophe.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Contemporary Literature, Centre for
    Depositing User: Martin Eve
    Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2015 16:21
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:37


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item