Of missing fathers and Big Fish: reconstructive tendencies after postmodernism

Huber, Irmtraud (27 September 2015). Of missing fathers and Big Fish: reconstructive tendencies after postmodernism (Unpublished). In: ASAP/7: Arts & the Public. Greenville, SC. 24.-27.09.2015.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Many things have been said about literature after postmodernism, but one point there seems to be some agreement on is that it does not turn its back radically on its postmodernist forerunner, but rather generally continues to heed and value their insights. There seems to be something strikingly non-oedipal about the recent aesthetic shift. It is a project of reconstruction that remains deeply rooted in postmodernist tenets. Such an essentially non-oedipal attitude, I would argue, is central to the nature of the reconstructive shift. This, however, also raises questions about the wider cultural context from which such an aesthetic stance arises. If postmodernism was nurtured by the revolutionary spirits of the late 1960s, reconstruction faces a different world with different strategies. Instead of the postmodernist urge to subvert, expose and undermine, reconstruction yearns towards tentative and fragile intersubjective understanding, towards responsibility and community. Instead of revolt and rebellion it explores reconciliation and compromise. One instance in which this becomes visible in reconstructive narratives is the recurring figure of the lost father. Missing father figures abound in recent novels by authors like Mark Z. Danielewski, Dave Eggers, Yann Mantel, David Mitchell etc. It almost seems like a younger generation is yearning for the fathers which postmodernism has struggled hard to do away with. My paper will focus on one particularly striking example to explore the implications of this development: Daniel Wallace’s novel Big Fish and Tim Burton’s well-known film adaptation of the same. In their negotiation of fact and fiction, of doubt and belief, of freedom and responsibility, all of which converge in a father-son relationship, they serve well to illustrate central characteristics and concerns of recent attempts to leave postmodernism behind.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures

UniBE Contributor:

Huber, Irmtraud


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Irmtraud Huber

Date Deposited:

28 Jan 2016 12:27

Last Modified:

28 Jan 2016 12:27



Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback