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Distributed for Leiden University Press

Big Books in Times of Big Data

This book explores the aesthetics, medial affordances, and cultural economics of monumental literary works of the digital age and offers a comparative and cross-cultural perspective on a wide range of contemporary writers. Using an international archive of hefty tomes by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann, van de Ven investigates multiple strands of bigness that speak to the tenuous position of print literature in the present but also to the robust stature of literary discourse within our age of proliferating digital media. Her study makes a case for the cultural agency of the big book—as a material object and a discursive phenomenon, entangled in complex ways with questions of canonicity, materiality, gender, and power. Van de Ven takes us into a contested terrain beyond the 1,000-page mark, where issues of scale and reader comprehension clash with authorial aggrandizement and the pleasures of binge reading and serial consumption.

300 pages | 12 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Media / Art / Politics

Culture Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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“Inge van de Ven’s superb book explores the aesthetics, the medial affordances, and the cultural economics of monumental literary works in the present. . . . Balancing careful close readings of such door-stop books as Danielewski’s The Familiar and Bolaño’s 2666 with wide-ranging discussions of big data epistemologies, media change, and evolving forms of literacy, Big Books in Times of Big Data is a perfect blend of comparative media studies and literary analysis.”

Alexander Starre, Freie Universität Berlin

“The study is very well written and seamlessly integrates readings of complex large-scale literary works with new theory across literary studies, feminism, digital and media studies.” 

Henriette Steiner, University of Copenhagen

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