The Global Novel

The Global Novel: Mediations 


Hours: 5:05-7:45

Nancy Armstrong, Roberto Dainotto

Louis Althusser is known to have said that “ideology represents individuals’ imaginary relation to their real conditions of existence.” Assuming that statement is a pretty good fit for traditional literary realism as well, we feel it is time to rephrase this principle for the global novel—which would go something like this: “the global novel represents individuals’ imaginary relation to forms of mediation.” Rather than refer to life beyond the page as one organized around the home, the workplace, the school, the legal system and so forth, the novels we have in mind aspire to live not only outside the language in which they were written but also beyond the printed page in film, television series, comic books, audiobooks, electronic games, and so forth. In that a good number of these novels quite literally attempt to escape the material confines of the medium, they require us to figure out new procedures for reading them.

Procedures: This course will be taught over zoom, with seminars taped, questions pre-circulated, and voluntary responses elicited beforehand.

 Requirements: In addition to informal class responses, the writing requirement will include a 12-15-page concept essay developed from a repertoire determined by the class in two workshop sessions where we develop the glossary of critical concepts most helpful in elucidating the novels.



N.B., Readings marked with * will be available on Sakai; those online have URLs provided below; students are responsible for ordering the rest, preferably the editions indicated.


August 17, 24.  Mediations: Publisher, Writer, Critic, Public

  • Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W Adorno. “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002. 94-136.*
  • Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Selected Writings. Howard Eiland, and Michael W. Jennings, Harvard University Press, 2006.*
  • Kracauer, Siegfried. “On Bestsellers and their Audience.” The Mass Ornament: Weimer Essays.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. 89-100.*


August 31. Bad Infinities, False Immediacies

  • Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep.  London: Verso, 2013. 61-128.*
  • Brouillette, Sarah. “The Creative Class and Cultural Governance.” Literature and the Creative Economy. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2014. 20-33.*
  • Jameson, Fredric. “The Aesthetics of Singularity.” New Left Review 92 (2015): 101-32. Available here.


September 7. “Dear Reader.” The Novel in the Age of Amazon

  • Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. New York: Vintage, 2005.
  • McGurl, Mark. “Everything and Less: Fiction in the Age of Amazon.” Modern Language Quarterly3 (2016): 447-71. Available here.
  • Felski, Rita. “Suspicious Minds.” Poetics Today 2 (2011): 215-234. Available here.


September 14. The Author as Brand

  • Cusk, Rachel. Transit: a Novel. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.
  • Thompson, John B. “Introduction” and “The Rise of Literary Agents.” Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century.2nd ed., New York: Plume, 2012.*
  • Sinykin, Dan N. “The Conglomerate Era: Publishing, Authorship, and Literary Form, 1965–2007.” Contemporary Literature4 (2017): 462-91.
  • Pugh, Sheenagh. “Introduction” and “What Else and What If: Sequels, Prequels, Crossovers, Missing Scenes and AUs.” The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in Literary Context. Bridgend, UK: Seren Books, 2005.*


September 21.  The Narrator as Mediator

  • McCarthy, Tom. Remainder. New York: Vintage, 2005.
  • Thon, Jan-Noël. “The Narrator as a Transmedial Concept.” Transmedial Narratology and Contemporary Media Culture. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. 125-166.*
  • McClanahan, Anne. “Credit, Characterization, Personification.” Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2017. 55-95.*


September 28.  Seriality

  • Kushner, Rachel. The Flamethrowers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013.
  • Broe, Dennis. “Serial Aesthetics.” The Birth of Binge: Serial TV and the End of Leisure. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2019. 137-172.*


October 5.  The Romantic Web

  • Kehlmann, Daniel. Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes. Trans. Carol Brown Janeway. New York: Vintage, 2011.
  • Illouz, Eva. “Romantic Web.” Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007.*


October 12. Transmediality

  • Saviano, Roberto. Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System. Virginia Jewiss. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. (Screen film and at least one episode of the television series.)
  • Bolter, J. David, and Richard Grusin. Introduction” and “Theory.” Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. 2-87.*
  • Elliott, Jane. “Sovereign Capture.” The Microeconomic Mode: Political Subjectivity in Contemporary Popular Aesthetics.  New York: Columbia University Press,


October 19. This is not a Zombie Novel

  • Whitehead, Colson. Zone One. New York: Anchor Doubleday, 2012. (Screen Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.)
  • Esposito, Roberto, and Timothy Campbell. “The Immunization Paradigm.” Diacritics 2 (2006): 23-48.*
  • Martin, Theodore. “Crime Fiction and Black Criminality.” ALH 4 (2018): 703-729.*


October 26. This is not a Graphic Novel

  • Pajak, Frédéric. Uncertain Manifesto. Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: New York Review of Books, 2019.
  • Didi-Huberman, Georges. “The Image as Phantom.” The Surviving Image. Harvey L. Mendelsohn. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2016. 1-66.*


November 2.  Workshop I: discussion of abstracts, to be submitted F October 23.


November 9. Discussion: student questions and comments to be submitted by F November 6.


November 16. Workshop II: 5-6 page draft of final paper due by Th November 12.


November 25. Final papers due: 5 PM