Media Architectures in American Fiction
Publication Year: 2013
Corridor offers a series of conceptually provocative readings that illuminate a hidden and surprising relationship between architectural space and modern American fiction. By paying close attention to fictional descriptions of some of modernity’s least remarkable structures, such as plumbing, ductwork, and airshafts, Kate Marshall discovers a rich network of connections between corridors and novels, one that also sheds new light on the nature of modern media.
The corridor is the dominant organizational structure in modern architecture, yet its various functions are taken for granted, and it tends to disappear from view. But, as Marshall shows, even the most banal structures become strangely visible in the noisy communication systems of American fiction. By examining the link between modernist novels and corridors, Marshall demonstrates the ways architectural elements act as media. In a fresh look at the late naturalist fiction of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, she leads the reader through the fetus-clogged sewers of Manhattan Transfer to the corpse-choked furnaces of Native Son and reveals how these invisible spaces have a fascinating history in organizing the structure of modern persons.
Portraying media as not only objects but processes, Marshall develops a new idiom for Americanist literary criticism, one that explains how media studies can inform our understanding of modernist literature.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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In July 1919 a song premiered at the Greenwich Village Follies thatsuggested a change of affiliation for moderns in pursuit of intimacy.The song trades in mixed clichés, routinely dismissing Shakespeareanlovers and serenading knights as “freakish men,” and chastising theseicons for an overreliance on “atmosphere” (“they couldn’t spoon with-...
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This book is a map of many intersecting corridors. One of my favoriteswas reached via the north entrance of a large brick building in LosAngeles: on either side of this door, two pairs of windows form the eyesof an appropriately strange face. During the time I was regularly enter -ing the building, the windows belonged to the three people to whom I...
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...texts of literary modernism. Virginia Woolf famously described heridea of the structure of To the Lighthouse as “two blocks separatedby a corri dor.” The corridors traveled by Kafka’s Joseph K. are theiconic image of modern bureaucracy. Marcel of Proust’s Swann’s Wayfrets constantly about transit between his room and its exterior places...
1 BECOMING MEDIA INAN AMERICAN TRAGEDY
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...of Stephen Crane’s 1893 novel is responsible for “turning out” collars—at her sewing machine, this factory girl participates in the routinetransformation from cloth into collar, or from raw material into prod-uct. Her role in the transformation and the factory scene she inhabitsare familiar enough as the raw material of American naturalist fiction....
2 INFRASTRUCTURAL MODERNITY
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...world outside of his office, he looks out the window at a light shaft.The narrator lingers on this particular technology for circulating lightand air: “My chambers were up stairs at No.— Wall-street. At one endthey looked upon the white wall of the interior of a spacious sky-lightshaft, penetrating the building from top to bottom. This view might...
3 THE FLU AND THE MEDIA,OR CONTAGION 1918
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...began to shut down. They did so to avoid a common threat: the trans-mission of an influenza virus that was quickly reaching global pan-demic status. Although this shutdown included the expected suspensionof public transit and other systems involving the bodily proximity ofindividuals, it also extended to the postal and telephone systems and...
4 CORRIDORS OF POWER
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...its most prominent theorists, Max Weber, has its own spatial conta-gions. “It does not matter for the character of bureaucracy,” he says,“whether its authority is called ‘private’ or ‘public.’”1 The mimeticcompulsions of structure appear throughout his categorical project ofdescribing bureaucratic rationality; and bureaucracy, like the flu, works...
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...walls, partitions, and channels that organize vectors of movement andtransfer. These structures of division—inside from outside, private fromsocial space—indicate and make possible that from which they areThus, when Virginia Woolf draws the form of To the Lighthouse sheimagines a structure analogous to both house and closed system. Ann...
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...1. Gerber, Roth, and Silver, “All That I Need Is a Hallway.”3. I take the phrase “materialities of communication” from a collection ofessays by the same title that moves between two poles of this book’s theoreticalbackground, namely the discourse analysis of Friedrich Kittler and the systemstheory of Niklas Luhmann. See Gumbrecht and Pfeiffer, eds., Materialities of...
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Adorno, Theodor. “Late Style in Beethoven.” In Essays on Music. Edited byRichard Leppert, 564–68. Translated by Susan H. Gillespie. Berkeley: Univer-Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Modern Library, 2002.Archer, John. Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American DreamHouse, 1690–2000. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005....
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Page numbers in italics indicate photographs and other illustrations....
About the Author
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KATE MARSHALL is the Thomas J. and Robert T. Rolfs Assistant Professor...
Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013