Self-Reflexivity and Generic Change in 21st-Century Black British Women’s Literature

Project Details


This project critically engages with the poetics and politics of selfreflexivity in 21st-century Black British literature. Drawing on theories concerning genre, metafiction and postcolonialism, it studies, firstly, the political functions of postcolonial metafiction and, thus, refines existing literary theories, which all too often have dissociated selfreflexivity from realism and political engagement. The project also investigates the cultural functions of metafiction as a reading strategy through its shifting currency and (possibly gendered) de-/appreciation in literary criticism. Thirdly, and most notably, however, the project centres on metafiction’s aesthetic functions. Conceptualising metafiction as a catalyst for generic change, it explores how postmillennial self-reflexive fiction by British women of African and
African-Caribbean descent has 1) broadened Black British literature’s
subject matter (i.e. topical invention), 2) revitalized existing genres
through variation, hybridization and mixing (i.e. genre development)
and 3) led to the creation of new subgenres (i.e. genre multiplication).
Tracing an alternative self-reflexive tradition, the project will not just
revise histories of Black British literature but also existing theories of
metafiction, which have predominantly focussed on white male
writers. Thus, it helps to better understand the political, cultural and
aesthetic dynamics of genre evolution today in and through the Black
British field.
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/12/24


  • metafiction
  • genre development
  • 21st-century Black British women's writing

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Postcolonial studies
  • Narratology
  • Literatures in English
  • Literary theory
  • Contemporary literature


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