Andrew Goldstone

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I study and teach twentieth-century literature in English. My research interests include modernism and non-modernism in English and French, the sociology of literature, literary theory, the history of genre fiction, South Asian literature in English, and the digital humanities, especially computational text analysis. I also have a long-standing interest in digital systems for document preparation and typesetting, especially LaTeX.

My book, Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man (2013), is published by Oxford University Press. For information about the book and ordering links, see my webpage for the book.

Signs@40 Celebration and Panel Discussion

This week I’m participating in an event at Rutgers celebrating the launch of Signs@40: Feminist Scholarship through Four Decades, which I co-edited. We’ll hear from past, current, and future editors of Signs, the team that created the retrospective, and members of the Signs editorial board.

Signs@40: 1975–2014

Thursday, November 20, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Mabel Smith Douglass Room, Douglass Library
Rutgers University
8 Chapel Dr.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (Google Maps)

Reception to follow.

Hatterr Abroad in Contemporary Literature

My essay on the sociology of G. V. Desani, “Hatterr Abroad: G. V. Desani on the Scene of World Literature,” is now out in Contemporary Literature (downloadable via Project Muse or University of Wisconsin Press Journals). I take the reception of Desani’s novel All About H. Hatterr as a demonstration of the divergences among readers in the system of “world literature,” a system structured by inequalities of symbolic power. The novel itself makes a theme of this disempowerment at the hands of cultural mediators—but Desani’s satire did not forestall readers in India, Britain, and the United States from appropriating his novel for their own purposes as a cornerstone of a properly “desi” Indian novel canon, a freakish feat of style, or an exemplar of global or international modernism. My account thus emphasizes a sociological interpretation of reception and mediation over the meanings one might discover through a “reading” of Hatterr.

I draw a cautionary lesson for modernist studies from my study of Desani’s reception: Desani, linked from the first with international high modernism, is always also read as inferior and belated by comparison to the axial figures of the Anglo-modernist canon to whom he is insistently compared. My prognosis for the field’s attempts to “expand” modernism is quite pessimistic; individual good intentions stand little chance in the face of the complicity, so clearly traced by Desani’s reception history, among the Eliot-Joyce canon, the uneven geographic distribution of symbolic power, and the reading protocols dictated by modernist aesthetics.

In true Hatterr-ly fashion, my material on Desani and his work insistently spilled over the bounds of the essay and its argument. The nice thing about a blog is that there’s somewhere to spill. So a couple of extra fragments.

At the Modernist Studies Association This Week

I’m currently in Pittsburgh for MSA 16. I’m participating in two events: I’m on a pedagogy roundtable today, and chairing a panel tomorrow.

Friday: “Teaching Modernist Genres” Roundtable

3:30 p.m., Allegheny
Moderator: Emily Kopley (McGill University)

Jacquelyn Ardam (University of California, Los Angeles)
Erin Penner (Asbury University)
Andrew Goldstone (Rutgers University)
Lise Jaillant (Newcastle University)
Kathryn Holland (Grant MacEwan University)

I’ll be talking about my attempts to teach the “low to middling genres” of the twentieth century, especially my two iterations of a seminar on the subject (Stanford, 2010 and Rutgers, 2012).

Saturday: “A Wrinkle in Time: Modernism Then and Again”

3:30 p.m., Riverboat
Chair: Andrew Goldstone (Rutgers University)

Historicizing Experimentalism
Natalia Cecire
University of Sussex

Modernist Aesthetics and the Reception of Theological Novels
Anne DeWitt
New York University

Fragmented Ancestors
Leif Sorensen
Colorado State University


For the past year I have been working with the journal Signs on their fortieth anniversary project. Signs@40: Feminist Scholarship through Four Decades is now live. It features an interactive visualization of a topic model of the journal’s archive that I created in collaboration with Andy Mazzaschi, Susana Galán, Laura Lovin, and Lindsey Whitmore. The model is accompanied by commentary—both our own guide to exploration and commentaries by Signs editors and contributors past and future. The Signs group also created a series of thematic tables of contents for the journal and adapted a co-citation network visualization originally developed by Jonathan Goodwin. The whole provides many pathways for exploring the work of this central institution of feminist scholarship.

We will shortly make the source code available on github, where I’ll also add a few more technical notes on our modeling process and our visualization design. Here are some early thoughts about the site itself, now that it is at last whole and public:

At Penn This Week

This Thursday, I’ll be visiting Penn’s Digital Humanities Forum to discuss topic modeling and the sociology of literature. It’s a “Tools and Techniques” session, which means an informal discussion focused on method. I wonder if I will get in trouble for carrying my personal MALLET on Amtrak. Description:

This workshop introduces probabilistic topic modeling for humanists, focusing on applications in literary studies. Using my own work on the history of literary study as an example, I’ll give an informal introduction to the algorithm, survey the nuts-and-bolts technical choices involved in modeling, and discuss the challenges of interpreting the algorithm’s output. Strange and novel as this technique may seem, I’ll argue that it may be surprisingly well-suited to investigating some of literary studies’ central questions about the relation between literary history and social phenomena—and to rediscovering the methodological concerns the humanities share with the social sciences.

If you’re in Philly, it’s at noon in Penn Library, Seminar 627. Register by e-mailing .

Update, 10/16/14: slides