Some notes towards a rhetoric of time travel

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This project aims to examine time travel not as a scientific possibility, but as a narrative device employed towards various rhetorical aims. Drawing on Narratology, this project first establishes a terminology to discuss how time travel functions as a narrative device related to anachronies and metalepses. Having coined the term anachronic metalepsis to explain the narrative functions of time travel, this project then turns to close readings of eight time travel narratives drawn from different genres and mediums. Organized into clusters focusing on the causal and spatial potentials of time travel, these readings demonstrate time travel narratives' powers to manifest and dramatize narrative and historical forces, explore questions of causality and choice, and spatialize history and examine our relationship with it. Ultimately, this project demonstrates that time travel is a many-faceted narrative device that exists across multiple genres and serves many different purposes, thus calling for further examination of time travel narratives as artifacts created to shoulder specific rhetorical burdens.

rhetoric, time travel, narrative theory, narratology, genre fiction