Short Story Cycles

To Relate, to Read, to Separate A Poetics of the Collection and A Poetics of Diffraction

How the concept of a poetics of the collection allows for a more expansive and flexible analysis of short story collections.

[Abstract:] Within the context of contemporary French and Quebec literature, this paper reflects on the defining traits of a poetics of the collection. This poetics is based on internal structures as well as on the reading of texts. An investigation of the specific characteristics of recent texts allows me to reflect anew on collection-like narrative practices whose internal structure strongly resembles that of short story collections. The notion of diffraction enables me to define in general terms the tension characterizing these texts.

Key points

  • Existing research tends to view the collection as a static editorial product and emphasizes its formlessness. A different approach – a poetics of the collection – would consider the collection as a process that produces its own effects.
  • This approach seeks to understand the intrinsic possibilities of the collection and goes beyond immediate limits.
  • A poetics of the collection can provide a broader and less constrained critical perspective, offering a complementary approach to analyzing short story collections.


René Audet (2014): “To Relate, to Read, to Separate. A Poetics of the Collection and A Poetics of Diffraction” in Interférences littéraires/Literaire interferenties, February 2014, 12, “Cycles, Recueils, Macrotexts: The Short Story Collection in Theory and Practice”, Elke D’hoker & Bart Van den Bossche (eds.), 35-45. ISSN : 2031 – 2790

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