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The Novel as “the Most Complex Artifact of Networking” Beitrag open-access

The Relevance of Network Theory for the Study of Transcultural Fiction

Heike Schaefer

Amerikastudien/American Studies, Volume 60 (2016), Issue 1, Page 139 - 156

While the study of networks has proliferated in the information, social, and natural sciences, literary critics to date have been hesitant to examine the theoretical implications of network analysis for literary and cultural studies. This essay explores the contribution that network theory can make to the study of transcultural fiction and, hence, by extension, to transnational American Studies. Transcultural narratives aim to forge new connections between diverse literary and cultural traditions. They privilege connectivity, reciprocity, and processuality to undermine notions of cultural purity, autonomy, and stability and to undo the essentialist concepts of identity and alterity these give rise to. Taking Junot Díaz’s novel ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ (2007) as its test case, this essay argues that the concept of the network provides a productive heuristic tool for the analysis of the discursive concerns, representational strategies, and cultural relevance of transcultural fiction.


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