‘The raft, the ladder, the transitional space, the moratorium…’: digital interventions in twenty-first-century private and public lives

Oliver, Jessica Eve (2018) ‘The raft, the ladder, the transitional space, the moratorium…’: digital interventions in twenty-first-century private and public lives. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This project explores the nebulizing effect of digital technologies on their analogue counterparts, and their cultural and social repercussions as depicted in early twenty-first-century novels. The thesis finds five central concerns of digital culture, areas in which the structures and codes of the culture have had to be recalibrated to such a degree to accommodate virtuality, and examines them through the works of a novelist with a fascination for, or resistance to this change. The thesis identifies an irreversible shift in the mental apparatus caused by digital technologies that work on narrativizing powers such as memory, interpretation, and perception, that finds expression in fiction.
Chapter 1 reads Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Keep as responses to the phenomena of geomapping, networking and communications in the age of global reach. Chapter 2 uses Tom McCarthy’s novels C, Remainder, and Satin Island to illustrate the distorting effects of digitality on time. Chapter 3 brings to focus the more recent work of J. M. Coetzee, Summertime, Elizabeth Costello, and Diary of a Bad Year, that engages with digitality and a cultural landscape increasing reliant on distancing technologies. Chapter 4 examines the recording and surveilling technologies at the heart of Ali Smith’s twentyfirst- century novels How to Be Both, Autumn and The Accidental. Chapter 5 reads Dave Eggers’ The Circle as a critique of corporate digital culture, and examines the role of taste in articulating personal freedom.
The conclusion analyses a current crisis point in the digital project, and gestures towards the future of technology in the contemporary novel, speculating on what elements discussed in the thesis might endure and shape fictional narrative as the age of digitality progresses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0045 Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics > PN0045.5 Relation to and treatment of special elements, problems, and subjects > PN0056.A-Z Other special. Topics A-Z > PN0056.D545 Digital technologies
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 12:10
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/80726

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