Global Narrative in Electronic Modernity

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Makkar, Jap Nanak, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Chakravorty, Mrinalini, Department of English, University of Virginia
Shukla, Sandhya, Department of English, University of Virginia
Felski, Rita, Department of English, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines a number of global novels in light of “electronic modernity.” Referring to both the conceptual shift involved in the displacement of “reason” by “rationality” after 1948, and the practical shifts ensuing from the application of electronic principles to computing after 1945, “electronic modernity” is a periodizing concept drawn from recent historiographies in economics and science and technology studies. In chapters on Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2013), J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year (2007) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), I examine how literary form develops as it renders historical changes, such as the newly-felt prevalence of practices originating in the cybernetic sciences (“automation,” “interactivity” and “prediction”). I argue that these novels offer a space in which cybernetic principles are represented, debated and disputed; framing global literature as a discourse that is instrumental to the current techno-economic regime (i.e., a means of achieving pre-decided ends), I draw on thinkers such as Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Jürgen Habermas to suggest that the canon’s disruptive potential may rest in its ability to reform instrumentality.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
postcolonial, global, contemporary literature, aesthetics, digital, technology, media, cybernetics, modernity, capitalism, instrumentality, critique
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