An argument for a wholesale revision of the assumptions of modernist studies, Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man puts the practice of relative autonomy at the center of our historical understanding of modernism from Oscar Wilde and Henry James to Wallace Stevens and Paul de Man.
Wastes of Time
Genre and the literary field since 1890 (in progress)
The last century was the century of mass reading. In the United States and Britain, the decades after 1890 witnessed unprecedented growth in who read and in what there was to read, driven by transformations in education, the economy, and the publishing industry. In fiction, more texts meant more kinds of texts: fiction came to be organized in a classification system by theme and by status. “Literary” fiction set itself off from the merely popular kind; specialist venues and audiences developed for the genres that remain familiar to readers today, like mystery, romance, and science fiction.
Though these developments transformed the world of imaginative writing, most scholarship continues to focus on high-status literary works, those distinguished by claims of uniqueness and modernity. This ethos—institutionalized by literary modernism—has meant that most of the reading material of the century is regarded as a waste of time: repetitive, idle pleasure, merely generic, outside of any history that matters. On the contrary, I argue, the distinctive histories of the popular genres must be synthesized with those of prestige literature if we are to understand the evolving literary classification system as it shapes reading and writing of all kinds. Seeking to contribute to a more capacious twentieth-century studies, I draw on the sociology of culture, book history, and computational methods as well as formal-historical interpretation of particular works.
Spurred by my work on modernist cosmopolitanism, my long-standing comparative urges, and the ever-greater-importance of problems raised by the transnational and global turns in literary and cultural studies, I am pursuing a set of linked inquiries into world literature as a mode of reading, circulation, and judgment. In my view, world literature is best studied as the product of the institutions empowered to define it; I seek to contribute to research on the varied and unequal distribution of the transnational-literature idea as it affects the circulation of literary ideas and individual works. I wrote an essay on the transnational reception of the Kenyan-Indian-English-American writer G.V. Desani; I also have an ongoing research and teaching interest in the Nobel Prize in Literature—from the delightfully bizarre twentieth-century canon it has constituted to the rhetorical patterns of Nobel lectures.
(see under Digital Humanities)
One of the most promising new avenues for analyzing the social life of literature lies in the burgeoning of computational methods for literary study. I am interested in using such methods for analyzing aggregate patterns of signification and large-scale institutional structures of production, circulation, and reception; I believe that “DH” will be most valuable where it develops new connections and overlaps between literary and cultural studies and the social sciences. I describe my ongoing research, teaching, and organizational efforts in this domain in more detail on the Digital Humanities part of this site.
Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man. Oxford University Press, 2013.
Articles and Book Chapters
“Teaching Quantitative Methods: What Makes It Hard (in Literary Studies).” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren Klein. University of Minnesota Press, 2019. (Open-access version available.)
“From Reproducible to Productive.” CA: Journal of Cultural Analytics, February 2017.
“Autonomy Proliferates.” Journal of Dutch Literature 6, no. 1 (2015): 5–16.
“Relative Autonomy: Pierre Bourdieu and Modernism.” Chap. 4 in The Contemporaneity of Modernism: Literature, Culture, Media, edited by Michael D’Arcy and Mathias Nilges. Routledge, 2016.
“Hatterr Abroad: G. V. Desani on the Stage of World Literature.” Contemporary Literature 55, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 466–500.
Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood, “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us.” NLH 45, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 359–84. Accompanying website: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~ag978/quiet. (Preprint available.)
Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood, “What Can Topic Models of PMLA Teach Us About the History of Literary Scholarship?” Journal of Digital Humanities 2, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 38–48.
“Servants, Aestheticism, and ‘The Dominance of Form.’” ELH 77, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 615–43.
“The Two Voices of Wallace Stevens’ Blank Final Music.” Wallace Stevens Journal 29, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 213–32.
Co-editor, Signs@40: Feminist Scholarship Across Four Decades. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. October 2014. http://signsat40.signsjournal.org.
Review of Marginal Modernity by Leonardo Lisi. James Joyce Quarterly 50, no. 1–2 (Fall 2012–Winter 2013): 539–42.
Review of Consuming Traditions by Elizabeth Outka and The Speed Handbook by Enda Duffy. Studies in the Novel 43, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 281–85.
0000-0002-2875-1290. At present only some of my work is associated with this ID.