Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Jane A Gallop
Jason Puskar, Theodore Martin, Stuart Moulthrop, Thomas Malaby
Digitality, Digital Literature, Temporality
For many years, writers have argued the predominant temporality of contemporary experience is an intensified present. David Harvey and Fredric Jameson argued that such an intense emphasis on the present was one of postmodernism’s principle features. Harvey argued that new communication technologies resulted in a "time-space compression” that created the sense that “the present is all there is.” Similarly, Jameson argued that postmodernism reflected the logic of late capitalism, resulting in a society that “has begun to live in a perpetual present” that obliterates one’s awareness of the past or future. Although many consider we have moved beyond postmodernism, our experience of the present has only become more intensified. The omnipresence of online connectivity today through communications technologies, such as smart phones and social media, means almost everything can be addressed in the present moment.
In order to better understand this phenomenon, this dissertation examines this intensified experience of the present, what I call the hyper-present, as it is embodied in four different literary texts. Chapters are devoted to The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski, Save the Date by Chris Cornell, and Queers in Love at the End of the World by Anna Anthropy. Although the form of each of these texts is significantly different, they each thrust the reader into a hyper-present reading experience. I argue that these texts challenge the pessimistic attitude that most theorists have towards the hyper-present. Although the hyper-present can present a number of important hurdles for contemporary life, it can also help us better recognize the significance of material objects, ecological threats, the limits of narrative tropes, and affectivity. Additionally, this study highlights the value of synthesizing literary and digital studies. This dissertation examines two print-based novels and two digital games. In the process it highlights both how digitality has profoundly shaped contemporary print media and how traditional literary studies has shaped digital media. Rather than being at odds, it shows how the perspectives and methodologies of literary and digital studies prove valuable regardless of media and how each approach highlights the need for and value of the other.
Bruss, Robert, "The Time Is Now: Embodiments of the Hyper-Present in Contemporary American Literature" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 2291.