The Novel and the Public Sphere in the Internet Age
Dr Adam Kelly
My research focuses on notions of the public sphere in the Internet Age, as explored in contemporary Anglo-American fiction. In particular, my thesis examines how Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, and David Foster Wallace grapple with the issue of literary authority through their discussions of the Internet’s effects on public life. When these authors write about the Internet Age, they do so by tackling specific issues – privacy, democracy, corporate power, celebrity, secrecy, civic engagement – nearly all of which relate to conceptions of the public sphere. My thesis develops these issues in relation to the concept of the literary public sphere, connecting them to antecedent literary forms and figures that novelists have evoked in order to address the Internet Age. Each chapter concludes by examining elements of the primary author’s own career, to consider how the literary public sphere has shaped readings of their novels, and how we might reconsider notions of authorship under a digital dispensation.