Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Brian McHale.


Taking as its point of departure Henri Lefebvre's contention that "(Social) space is a (social) product," my dissertation explores the contemporary American novels of Pynchon, Acker, Reed, Auster, DeLillo, and McElroy as well as the two recent films Dark City and The Thirteenth Floor and their dramatization of the production of twentieth-century social space. I approach these works as metaphysical detective stories which evoke the classic detective figure only to frustrate his impulse to solve and contain. Following Foucault's contention that "space is fundamental to any exercise of power," I suggest that the detective figure is significant to an understanding of the history of spatial production in that the detective both relies upon the striating logic of Western science as well as---particularly in his surveillance of the city---perpetuates that logic by rationally ordering the spaces he observes. The metaphysical detective, however, confronts the reconstituted space of postmodern culture, resulting largely from the globalization of capitalism and expanding technologies, which resists former logic-driven methods of delimiting social spaces and subjects in space. Through their appropriation of the classic detective, these metaphysical detective stories embody, then, a competing history of spatial logic that once exposed causes us to rethink the ideology of social space(s) in the West, while also shedding light on the ways in which gender, race, and class are both constructed within and act as formants in the production of space.