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Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation explores how and why people in the last two decades, inspired by the rise of the internet and social media, recirculated and reimagined American literary texts published in the late-twentieth century through both physical and digital networks, for the purposes of both protest and profit. My chapters respectively narrate how the writings of James Baldwin (1924–1987), Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007), Sandra Cisneros (1954–), and Chris Kraus (1955–) were repurposed and reshared in #BlackLivesMatter tweets, licensed Amazon fanfiction, “streetfighter” websites, Tumblr selfies, and more. Throughout Postwar Redux, I argue that the expansion of twenty-first-century American reading culture onto the internet and social media— environments that emphasize rapid-fire content remixing and resharing as ways of communicating and socially engaging in a globalized digital world—has fostered new practices of reading and fresh attitudes toward literature, such that readers treat “canonical” postwar American literary texts not as objects to be passively consumed but as objects to be used, reshared, and inserted directly into the fabric of social life. Further, Postwar Redux demonstrates that the figure of the author is fully undead and newly dominant in the new millennium. Many of the readers featured in this dissertation sampled from and recomprised the texts, images, and videos produced by and about Baldwin, Vonnegut, Cisneros, and Kraus, reconstituting these authors from the ground-up as close-at-hand advocates, advertisers, and imagined friends. All along the way, my analyses in Postwar Redux are bolstered, extended, and in some cases entirely enabled by the use of computational and digital tools. Throughout this dissertation, I show how the study of contemporary literary circulation especially invites and rewards the application of such methods, and I demonstrate how internet data about literature’s proliferating social lives has the potential to enrich the fields of the digital humanities and cultural analytics.
Chair and Committee
William J. Maxwell
Matt Erlin, Long Le-Khac, Steven Meyer, Rachel Greenwald-Smith,
Walsh, Melanie, "Postwar Redux: The Recirculation of Postwar American Literature and the Rise of Networked Readers in the Twenty-First Century" (2019). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1958.
Available for download on Tuesday, August 15, 2119