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American Literature's Aesthetic Dimensions$
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Cindy Weinstein and Christopher Looby

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156172

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156172.001.0001

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Network Aesthetics

Network Aesthetics

Juliana Spahr’s The Transformation and Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social

(p.367) [17] Network Aesthetics
American Literature's Aesthetic Dimensions

Sianne Ngai

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines two twenty-first-century texts committed to a “philosophy of connection”—one literary, the other sociological—that explicitly take up the challenge posed by the network as form and in a way that directly links it to the challenge of creating a more lucid representation of individual and collective action. The first is Bruno Latour's Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (2005), which Latour explicitly invites us to read as a literary as well as methodological treatise. The second text is American poet Juliana Spahr's The Transformation (2007), a generically ambiguous prose narrative featuring a radically heterogeneous collective protagonist. Read together, these two texts give a sense of what an aesthetics or discourse of pleasure and evaluation based on networks might look and feel like, as well as a sense of the poetics of connectionism's limits.

Keywords:   philosophy, network, collective action, individual action, Bruno Latour, Juliana Spahr, aesthetics, connectionism, poetics

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