Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michael Knight

Committee Members

Misty Anderson, Margaret Lazarus Dean, Mary McAlpin


This dissertation includes a novel, This City is a Clock, and a critical introduction, “Technologies of the Novel.”

This City is a Clock charts the construction of Edinburgh’s New Town and the development of the Scottish Enlightenment. The protagonist is a boy when the novel begins and has grown to old age by the final pages. As a child, he is put to work by the architects of the new town when they discover that he has unusual mathematical gifts. To them, his strange talent seems an emblem of the new rational order they are hoping to create. And the boy is eager to help them: he wants to be able to escape his impoverished background. His family is so poor that they live next door to a witch, and she terrifies him. However, the architects repeatedly run into trouble, their goals being opposed by a variety of vested interests in the city, and the boy discovers that the only way he can overcome these troubles is to go to the witch and ask for her advice. But each time she offers to help, the cost to him and the rest of the city grows.

“Technologies of the Novel” explores questions of craft, inter-generational artistic anxiety, and the development of the Anglophone novel over time.

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