Courtenay Finn

The Postscript and the Paraliterary

My thesis examines models of paraliterary practice in contemporary art—models that appropriate the structure of literature to expand upon existing narratives. In such practices, the act of reading becomes a key component of the artwork. The notion of the paraliterary is best understood in relation to the form of the postscript. The artwork as postscript allows access to an original source narrative as well as to the artist’s reading of that narrative. This thesis investigates works by Sophie Calle and Joachim Koester that operate as addenda to existing novels. In the spirit of Roland Barthes’s ideas surrounding the death of the author, I understand these works by Calle and Koester as postscripts authored by the reader instead of by the original writer. Such artworks extend the original narrative and situate it within a new context, thus illustrating how the reading and rereading of a narrative may reimagine roles of reader and author, original and copy, production and consumption.