Historical Referentiality in E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel and Ragtime

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jon R. Adams

Second Advisor

Dr. Todd Kuchta

Third Advisor

Dr. Gwen Tarbox


Historical referentiality, Doctorow's novels

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until



In this thesis I will argue that E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel and Ragtime are historically referential, though in different ways. Using Elisabeth Wesseling's typology of historiographical metafiction, I suggest that The Book of Daniel qualifies as "self-reflexive" historiographic metafiction, while Ragtime emerges as what Wesseling calls "uchronian" historiographic metafiction. In the course of my examination of these two types of historiographic metafiction, I reveal that Doctorow's variety of postmodernist fiction actually serves to establish the historicity of historiographic metafiction and thus features its own variety of uniquely postmodern mimesis. My analyses of the novels counter critical claims by popular theorists such as Gerald Graff and Fredric Jameson that postmodern fiction has failed to represent history.


This thesis is unavailable because permission has not been granted by the author. A print copy is available at the WMU Waldo Library in the General Stacks at call number: PS 9999 .A59

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