.Compostmodernism: A Theory for the Infiltration of Digital and Internet Technologies in Twenty-First Century American Fiction
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This dissertation introduces and defines .compostmodernism as a successor to postmodernism in the particular context of twenty-first century literature. Having roots in the postmodern literary era when the anxiety about print literature’s obsolescence was at its peak, .compostmodernism is born of the increasing influence of media and technology on literature in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The dissertation begins by defining postmodern literature’s relationship to new media and technology in the 1960s and beyond, working toward the various definitions for post-postmodernism today. Following, it offers a definition of .compostmodernism as the literary composting of “dead” and bygone postmodern and modern literary tenets—namely postmodern irony and new (modern) sincerity— with twenty-first century digitality in content, narrative form, typography, materiality and finally, medium before offering a preliminary case study with Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge (2013). Through a close reading of Tao Lin’s Taipei (2013), it introduces literary cyber-consciousness as a crucial component of the .compostmodern novel: a narrative form that, while composting postmodern self-parody and modern stream of consciousness, emerges as the literary embodiment of the intermediation between human cognition and the digital machine. Through a visual engagement with Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar (2015), it introduces .compostmodern textual machinery, a two-tiered machine. First, the printed book is a textual machine in which the novel’s typographical experimentation visually reflects the metaphorical digital machinery of the codex and second, the reader’s physical relationship to the text as prompted by the typographical experimentation emerges as a mode of .compostmodern operation. The dissertation concludes by opening up .compostmodernism’s potential beyond literary fiction and exploring its presence in Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse’s poetry collection, Between Page and Screen (2012) and Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin’s genre fiction graphic novel, Shifter (2013). While offering a set of solid .compostmodern applications in literature, this dissertation begins the important conversation around literature’s survival in an increasingly digital culture.