Big Books in Times of Big Data: a book by the former IAS Junior Core Fellow
Big Books in Times of Big Data examines recent trends of size and scale in the novel in terms of the shift from the bound book to the newer materialities of the digital. Using a wide-ranging international archive of hefty tomes by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, and Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann, Van de Ven reflects on the place of big book-bound literature in a media genealogy which includes film and television but also online databases, social media, selfies, and Global Information Systems. This study makes a case for the cultural agency of the big book—as a material object and a discursive phenomenon, entangled in complex ways with questions of canonicity, mediality, gender, and power. Van de Ven takes us into a contested bookish terrain beyond the 1,000-page mark, where issues of scale and readerly comprehension clash with authorial aggrandizement and the pleasures of ‘binging’ and serial consumption.
In the next 36 months Inge will be working on her project TL; DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): Close and hyperreading of literary texts and the modulation of attention at the University of California in Santa-Barbara, University of Stavanger in Norway and Tilburg University int he Netherlands.