The novel is both a type of narrative and a distinct literary genre. This introduction argues that theoretical accounts of formal elements of narrative fiction, on the one hand, and historical investigations into the development of the novel, on the other, suffer from a lack of methodological exchange. It sketches out the interrelated disciplinary histories of the fields of narrative theory and novel studies and anatomizes the theoretical ground they share in determining their objects of study before identifying four topics of convergence: fictionality, surface reading and computational narratology, diachronic narratology and novelistic history, political criticism and new technologies. These topics provide a frame for ongoing debates which the essays in this special issue seek to engage with and intervene in.

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