“I think, therefore I connect”. Database, connessionismo ed esopoiesi nel romanzo anglo-americano (1995-2011)

Critical Writing
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2012
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The aim of this doctoral thesis is to analyse how the contents and the structures of the Anglo-American novel have been influenced by the emergence of digital and telematic media during the last two decades. One of the primary targets is to identify the common strategies adopted by electronic and printed novels to analyze the complexity and to try, at the same time, to escape from the “trap” of language. In my introduction I argue about the increasing relevance of the pattern/randomness dialectic into the narrative field. In the first chapter, while analysing the two novels Galatea 2.2 (1995) by Richard Powers and Exegesis (1997) by Astro Teller, I try to show how computational practices are affecting the literary fruition and authorship along with the role that the novel might play as an instrument of knowledge and cultural interaction. In the subsequent chapters I bring together literary analysis and network culture, focusing on different notions such as the database as a symbolic form, the properties of connectionist networks, the idea of transliteracy and the concepts of autopoiesis and exopoiesis. For this very reason, I examined five different works: David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (1996), William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (2003), Mark Z. Danielewski's Only Revolutions (2006), Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph's Flight Paths (2007) and The Unknown (1998), developed by Scott Rettberg, William Gillespie, Dirk Stratton and Frank Marquardt. These literary texts propose different strategies to assimilate the structures and the dynamics proper to the networks in order to create new cognitive paradigms. It would seem that, through specific narrative structures and topics, some of the novelists of the last fifteen years are abandoning the self-reflexivity typical of the previous postmodern tradition in order to suggest an idea of fiction as an instrument to connect individual and contingency, reader and text, text and media ecology.

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Patricia Tomaszek