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Other titles in the Critical Authors & Issues series:
Paperwork: Fiction and Mass Mediacy in the Paper Age (Critical Authors & Issues)by Kevin Mclaughlin
Synopses & Reviews
"The Paper Age" is the phrase coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1837 to describe the monetary and literary inflation of the French Revolution--an age of mass-produced "Bank-paper" and "Book-paper." Carlyle's phrase is suggestive because it points to the particular substance--paper--that provides the basis for reflection on the mass media in much popular fiction appearing during the nineteenth century. Rather than serving as a simple metaphor, however, paper in some of this fiction seems to display the more complex and elusive character of what Walter Benjamin evocatively calls "the decline of the aura" in his writings about the mass media. The critical perspective elaborated by Benjamin serves as the point of departure for the approach taken to paper proposed in Paperwork. Kevin McLaughlin analyzes the impact of the mass media on literature through a series of detailed interpretations of paper in fiction by Poe, Stevenson, Melville, Dickens, and Hardy. In this fiction, he argues, paper dramatizes the "withdrawal," as Benjamin puts it, of the "here and now" of the traditional work of art into the dispersing or distracting movement of the mass media. Paperwork seeks to challenge traditional concepts of medium and message that continue to inform studies of print culture and the mass media by focusing on the early years of industrialized literary production in the nineteenth century. It breaks new ground in the exploration of the difference and overlap between mass culture and literature and will appeal to cultural historians and literary critics alike.
"Paperwork" challenges traditional approaches to print culture and the mass media in the nineteenth century. Kevin McLaughlin argues for a literary-critical approach to the impact of the mass media on literature through a series of detailed interpretations of fiction by Poe, Stevenson, Melville, Dickens, and Hardy.
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