Sex, Time, and Space in Contemporary Fiction: Exceptional Intercourse

Sex, Time, and Space in Contemporary Fiction: Exceptional Intercourse

by Ben Davies

Hardcover(1st ed. 2016)

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Combining close readings of literature and theory, Sex, Time, and Space in Contemporary Fiction opens up new ways to consider the sex-time-space nexus. In an exciting and compelling contribution to contemporary literary studies, this book takes the concept of ‘exceptionality’ as its point of departure as developed through an exploration of Giorgio Agamben’s theory of the state of exception and the work of theorists including Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. Through an analysis of a range of widely read contemporary fiction, including On Chesil Beach, Gertrude and Claudius, The Act of Love and Room, Ben Davies provides a rigorous exploration of narrative form and offers original theories of the prequel, narrative relations in terms of set theory, and the practice of reading itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137485885
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication date: 08/25/2016
Edition description: 1st ed. 2016
Pages: 178
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ben Davies is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He is the co-editor of Sex, Gender and Time in Fiction and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Table of Contents



Preface – The Human Stain

1 Introduction: Exceptionality

Agamben’s State of Exception

Exceptional Sex

Novels and Norms, Transgression and Perversion

Textual Exceptionalities

Exceptional Textuality

2 Hymenality – On Chesil Beach

The Heterotopic Hymen

Hymenal Space

Ejaculatory Ejection

Hymenal Time

Historical Time, Exceptional Rupture

3 Incestuous Implications – Gertrude and Claudius


Adulterous Parallelism



The Incestuous Prequel

4 Sexual Sets – The Act of Love

The (Extra)Marital Set

Subset A. (Extra)Marital Exceptions:

A.1 Time and Space

A.2 Subspace

A.3 The Abandonment of (Extra)Marital Law

Subset B. The Narratorial Set:

B.1 Self-Exception

B.2 Storytelling

B.3 The Reader

5 Exceptional Existences – Room

‘Room just is’: Time and Space

“What’s normal?”

Jack and the Wolf

Coda: ‘like in a book’




What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This is one of the most persuasive studies of contemporary fiction published in recent years. Drawing on fresh philosophical and theoretical materials, the book is fascinating and leads us into daring and rigorous explorations of sex, sets, exceptionality, and the contemporary.” (Mark Currie, Professor of Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary, University of London, UK)

“Davies offers a fresh approach to the study of sex in contemporary fiction. Davies manages that ever so difficult task of combining literary theory with close textual attention. The result is a work that offers new theories of contemporary fiction, its form, and its style.”(Sarah Dillon, University Lecturer in Literature and Film, University of Cambridge, UK)

“Original and forward-moving, Davies’ book provides an analysis of sexual politics in contemporary culture. Through a lucid yet sophisticated reading of Agamben’s work, and a wide-range of texts, Davies explores difficult articulations of the thresholds of sexuality and sexual identity, and—surprisingly—arrives at a radical ethical/political theory.” (Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, The Pennsylvania State University, USA)

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