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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 27, 2015

British Novels of Migration and the Construction of Transnational Mental Spaces

Marcus Hartner and Ralf Schneider

Abstract

While migration to Britain has long played a major role in Black and Asian British fiction, many novels have been published in recent years whose protagonists do not hail from the countries of the Commonwealth. The British novel has also begun to explore different types of migration and migrants, including temporary work migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Another change in British fictions of migration has been an increasing output of migration narratives written by authors without migration experiences of their own. In this article, we suggest that those changes call for a rethinking of our theoretical and conceptual toolkit. We propose an approach that combines the sociological concept of transnational social spaces with the concept of mental spaces used in, e.g. cognitive narratology. With what we call a ‘transnational cultural narratology,’ we aim at introducing a concept that does justice to the transnational dimension of migration literature as well as to the narrative strategies the texts use, and the effects of reading which such fictions engender. We claim that these narratives establish what we describe as ‘transnational mental spaces.’


Corresponding authors: Dr. Marcus Hartner, English Department, University of Bielefeld, Universitätsstr. 25, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany, e-mail: ; and Prof. Dr. Ralf Schneider, English Department, University of Bielefeld, Universitätsstr. 25, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany, e-mail:

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Article note

This article was written in connection with the research project “Narrating Migration: Negotiating the Experience of Migration in British Prose Fiction [Migrationserfahrung in der zeitgenössischen britischen Erzählliteratur]” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).


Published Online: 2015-11-27
Published in Print: 2015-12-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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