“Retrofit: A modification made to a product or structure to incorporate changes and developments introduced since manufacture” (OED). Novel theorists in the twentieth century have made wide-ranging claims about the form based on European texts that were virtually all written in a past moment. Thus, the novels of Fielding, Richardson, and Defoe were 200 years old when Ian Watt retrieved them for his history (1957); Balzac’s and Tolstoy’s novels would have been collecting social security when Lukàcs wrote on them…Find out more »
Nicholas Paige (Berkeley), From Examples to Samples: Quantifying the Fictionality of the French Novel, 1681-1820
Most historians of the novel’s “rise” argue by example and example alone. We generate our narratives about the genre’s history from a few works that we assume to be either representative of the mass of works or as harbingers of future practice. Should we want to counter those narratives, we just pick some other works, or, more commonly, subject the same works to a different reading. What happens, though, if we move from interpreting examples to taking samples? I’ll try…Find out more »
Jeffrey Schnapp, a renowned Romance linguist, Dante scholar, editor, curator, and digital humanist, presents on recent projects engaged in remediating print. At 3:30, he will offer a public seminar on the metaLABprojects series in the metaLAB at Harvard and, more broadly, the various scenarios for the future dialogue between pixels and pages. At 5:00, Schnapp will host a screening of Cold Storage, his 26-minute documentary about the Harvard Book Depository, followed by a discussion of “knowledge design” and his work in the…Find out more »
Elaine Freedgood (NYU), How the Victorian Novel Got Realistic (in a French way), Reactionary, and Great?
The Victorian novel wasn’t all that great from about 1850 to about 1970. It lacked form, endings weren’t tragic, and narrators intruded too much. The critical demands on the novel, from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century are dramatic and anti-narrative–that is mimetic, and anti-diegetic. The Victorian novel starts to get great as strong theories of narration arrive in Anglophone criticism: from France. The narrators who had been a blight become sly and powerful, formal hijinks are smoothed out into…Find out more »
Jacob Soll (History, University of Southern California) explores the role of both the state and the nascent public sphere in the genesis of news and information flows in early modern Europe. Habermas’s model of the rise of a public sphere is now beginning to crumble, not only as scholars show much earlier origins of news, information flows, and public opinion, but also as the state emerges as a key player in inventing and managing news. Soll discusses the symbiosis, often odd and…Find out more »