Contemporary Styles: A Taxonomy of Novel Actions /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Dango, Michael Thomas, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (335 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Lauren Berlant; Deborah Nelson Committee members: Frances Ferguson.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation argues for and practices a new theory of style that in turn produces a taxonomy of contemporary novels in America. At least since Nelson Goodman, stylistics has moved beyond the untenable distinction between content as what is said and style as how it is said by seeing style instead as a harmonization of form and content. In prose fiction, style coordinates different forms of words, sentences, and chapters with different themes and subjects. But if style always coordinates, I claim we should identify styles according to the action of coordination itself. I thus shift the terrain: content is what is said and style is what is done. In particular, drawing on both affect theory and analytic action philosophy, I argue what styles do is process transforming conditions of their contemporary world. Different styles---different coordinations of form and content---assemble groups of people who adapt to structural transformations in similar ways.
I develop this theory of style as action in my introductory Chapter One, engaging style theorists including Arthur Danto, D. A. Miller, and Mark McGurl; action theorists in the tradition of G. E. M. Anscombe; and affect theorists of the historical present such as Lauren Berlant. I then demonstrate how a number of consequences follow from this theory, two of which are immediately important. First, style becomes available for a cultural criticism without content, because it shows what people are doing regardless of what they may say they are feeling or thinking. To read style is to read how people adapt to their changing worlds, even when they may not be able to slow down the world long enough to represent it. Such a theory is particularly important when the period under study is the historical present; whereas narrative representations of what life is like in transitional periods often lag behind the transitions themselves, style is synchronous with the present it acts within. Second, to read style as a mode of adaptation means liberating it from the particularly individualizing terms (e.g., Dickens style, Warhol style) or universally periodizing terms (e.g., Victorian style, Postmodern style) in which it is usually discussed. Rather, styles refer to new social groups that emerge in a contemporary situation through sharing actions. Because they come into being only through action, these style groups do not have to be primarily organized by demographic categories like class or institutions like the family; in fact, I argue the circulation of styles today shows us the loosening impact of these forms of organization. To enumerate the multiple styles at play in our world is to list what kinds of relations are budding when previous norms tying action to identities or institutions weaken. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).