Technologies of the Novel

Nicholas Paige discusses his new book

Technologies of the Novel: Quantitative Data and the Evolution of Literary Systems

In a Berkeley Book Chat presented by UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities,  – 

Online: Click Here to Watch the Livestream. No registration required.

In a study based on the systematic sampling of nearly 2,000 French and English novels written between 1601 and 1830, UC Berkeley professor of French Nicholas Paige asks how, precisely, the novel evolved. Instead of simply “rising” (as scholars have traditionally described its appearance as a genre), the novel is, in Paige’s view, a system in constant flux, made up of artifacts — formally distinct novel types — that themselves rise, only to inevitably fall.

Paige argues that these artifacts are technologies, each with traceable origins, each needing time for adoption and also for abandonment. Like technological waves in more physical domains, the rises and falls of novelistic technologies don’t happen automatically: writers invent and adopt literary artifacts for many diverse reasons. Looking not at individual works but at the novel as a patterned system, Technologies of the Novel (Cambridge, 2020) presents a new way of understanding the history and evolution of art forms.

Nicholas Paige works on17th- and 18th-century French literature and culturehistory and theory of the novelquantitative literary history and digital humanitiesaesthetics and image theory, and cinema (French New Wave). His essay “Bardot and Godard in 1963 (Historicizing the Postmodern Image)” appeared in Representations 88.

Paige is joined by UC Berkeley professor of English Dorothy Hale. After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.

 

Michael Lucey Translation Reviewed

Michael Lucey’s translation of The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis, published earlier this month, has just been reviewed in both the New Yorker and the New York Times

An autobiographical novel about growing up gay in a working-class town in Picardy, The End of Eddy at once captures the violence and desperation of life in a French factory town and provides a sensitive portrait of boyhood and sexual awakening.

The author, Édouard Louis, is a novelist and the editor of a scholarly work on Pierre Bourdieu. He is the coauthor, with the philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, of “Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive,” published in English by the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Michael Lucey, a member of the Representations editorial board, is a professor of French literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Never Say I: Sexuality and the First Person in Colette, Gide, and Proust and The Misfit of the Family: Balzac and the Social Forms of Sexuality and translator of Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon.