English 596K: Social Networks and Contemporary U.S. Literature

This graduate course examines the connections between social network analysis, digital humanities methods, and contemporary literary studies with a focus on the U.S. context. We’ll start by looking at how scholars have recently begun to imagine how we periodize “contemporary” literature, with focuses on postmodernism, neoliberalism, knowledge work, and the network society. We’ll then ask how contemporary fiction and other literary forms model and map the social world, and to what ends, with attention to a variety of claims about the political ramifications of peer-to-peer networks and social media. In addition to examining how texts model networks, we’ll also look at strategies for mapping the networks within which authors and their texts circulate. We’ll use these questions and a handful of novels as bases for relating some recent classics of literary and social theory to a broad subset of digital humanities methods and applications. Likely authors: Thomas Pynchon, David Simon, Jennifer Egan, Karen Tei Yamashita, Teju Cole, Tom McCarthy; Amy Hungerford, Mark McGurl, Worden and Gladstone, Marshall McLuhan, Alan Liu, Fredric Jameson, Thacker and Galloway, Patrick Jagoda, Michel Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Ronald Burt, Mohr and White, Albert-László Barabási, Manuel Castells, Long and So, Franco Moretti, Caroline Levine, Bruno Latour.