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Unfulfilled Vocations in Contemporary American Fiction.

Dix, H., 2022. Unfulfilled Vocations in Contemporary American Fiction. Textual Practice, 36 (1), 40-57.

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DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2020.1788135


This paper analyses the representation of unfulfilled creative vocations in contemporary American fiction through the lens of career construction theory, which emerged after the 2007 economic crisis when large numbers of people sought new forms of vocational guidance to suit the altered conditions of their working lives. It argues that during the same period, an increasing number of American novelists started to portray changing or unfulfilled creative vocations in their fiction, as a response to the same overall changes in American society. This means that career construction theory and the fictional portrayal of frustrated vocations have a common historical origin, so that the former can usefully be applied to our interpretation of the latter. The paper undertakes such work by applying specific components of career construction theory to interpretation and analysis of particular texts. Specifically, it applies Mark Savickas’s idea of meta-reflection to a reading of Joshua Ferris’s novel Then We Came to the End (2007); John Holland’s concept of vocational personality to analysis of Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World (2014); Peter McIlveen’s notion of exo-theme, or compromise, to Meg Wolitzer’s novel The Interestings (2013) and Kobus Maree’s use of career case studies to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010). Overall it argues that career construction theory is a potentially fertile body of work capable of informing our understanding of the fictional portrayal of creative vocations in new and innovative ways.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:career construction theory ; vocations in fiction ; Ferris, Joshua ; Hustvedt, Siri ; Wolitzer, Meg ; Egan, Jennifer
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:33308
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:27 Jan 2020 15:50
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:19


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