Ardeneaux, Edward John
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This thesis, (artificially) situated between two world’s fairs, explores the problems of electricity and subjectivity in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and E.L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel. Specifically, it detangles the consequences that these problems provoke for narrative, examined through failures and layers of narrative creation. Beyond these specific novels, this thesis illuminates the Bildungsroman as a generic category in relation to these new generic variants. The failure of the Bildungsroman to evolve, as a category, in American spaces and alongside new youth identities forces a contrast between the way the world once worked and new models of coping and striving in chaotic, electrified landscapes. Through a study of these distinctly American voices and the narratives they create, this thesis examines the influence of electricity on novel form/content and narrative endings as moments of possible textual transcendence.