2021 Student Research Conference:
34th Annual Student Research Conference

The Question of Constellation: Plot Structure as a Metacognitive Device in Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights


Caroline J. Taylor
Dr. Sarah Mohler, Faculty Mentor

   Nobel-prize-winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk describes her novel Flights as a “constellation novel” in which “constellation, not sequencing, carries truth” (77). This is consistent with Marina MacKay’s observation that, in postmodern fiction, meaning is constructed primarily through design and pattern (87). Tokarczuk marries form and function to craft a philosophically astute and aesthetically exquisite novel.

   Flights comprises a series of microfictions, each rendered significant in the context of the entire work through parallel plot structures and motifs. Ostensibly dissimilar characters, separated by decades and continents, are placed in proximity. Tokarczuk utilizes this intricately interconnected plot structure to interrogate the limitations of overly individualized knowledge, particularly anatomy and theology. Both rely overmuch on individual objectivity. Tokarczuk illustrates that our capacity for objectivity is hindered by the inherently subjective and corporeal nature of our experience. She extols the possibility that, through collaborative knowledge-building communities, we extend beyond the bounds of individual knowledge. 

Keywords: constellation novel, microfictions, parallel plot structures, overly individualized knowledge, anatomy, theology, objectivity, knowledge-building community

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Asynchronous Virtual Oral Presentation

Session: 13-8
Location: https://flipgrid.com/d0254fde
Time: 0:00

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