Uniform TitleThe language of information: intermedia appropriation and contemporary literary form
NameBenzon, Paul J. (author), Dienst, Richard (chair), Edwards, Brent (internal member), McClure, John (internal member), Fleetwood, Nicole (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectEnglish, Literatures in,
Information technology in literature,
DescriptionMy dissertation examines contemporary literature's politically and aesthetically dynamic engagement with media technology. I argue that print literature intervenes within the media landscape most vitally in its appropriation of technological form through the radicalization of literary form. Rather than reading literature's relationship to technology along narrative or thematic lines, I show how a series of novels and poetic sequences by Andy Warhol, Don DeLillo, Kevin Young, and Hari Kunzru reconfigure the operations of the typewriter, film, vinyl records, and digital networks through experiments with form, language, and genre. Tracing aesthetic processes across media technologies and print literature, I show how contemporary authors use literary form to incorporate and redirect media effects in a manner that suggests political possibilities beyond simple concession, withdrawal, or resistance.
In my first chapter, I argue that the standardized interface of the typewriter keyboard produces an aesthetics of error and uncertainty rather than one of discipline. I then trace this aesthetics through Warhol's a: a novel, showing how Warhol exploits the textual irregularities produced by the typewriter to test its limits as a transcriptive writing machine. Chapter two takes up literature's response to the material instability of the celluloid film archive and the emergence of electronic visual imagery. Focusing on the plot device of the missing film in DeLillo's Running Dog, I explore how the novel responds to the pressures of media change through the materially charged practices of appropriation and reproduction. Chapter three considers literature as a storage medium alongside the LP record and the painted canvas. I show how Young's poetic sequence To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor foregrounds distortion between media as a means of reflecting on literature's capacities for storing, modifying, and circulating information. In my final chapter, I consider literature's engagement with digital technology and global networking. I argue that Kunzru's formal innovations in Transmission break from conventional conceptions of the internet as a transparent, open structure to evoke the often invisible and unreadable operations of global data circulation. My dissertation argues that contemporary writers engage technological mediation most urgently through literary form, and that these engagements make clear the integral importance of media technology to contemporary literary production in general.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 266-276).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.