UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Scale, ecological attention, and the it-narrative Law, Anita Carmen


My thesis proposes a reconsideration of the ways in which we deploy formal analysis to analyze canonically minor texts and genres. In doing so, it reacts to and departs from a Jamesonian vein of material-historical formalism that treats minor texts as the mere evolutionary dead-end, or the ossified remnants of what was once “authentic artistic expression.” Unlike canonical texts, which have both the potential to be historicized and the ability to make claims to deep philosophical insight and formal innovativeness, minor texts tend to signify in more circumscribed ways. My thesis asks: how can we shift the terms upon which we evaluate minor genres without completely flattening out distinctions between texts or rendering aesthetic judgment void or purely subjective? Following in the footsteps of diverse theorists such as Franco Moretti, Anne-Lise François, Eve Sedgwick, and Sianne Ngai, and inspired by the inventive ways in which they broach the analysis of minor texts, my project seeks to generate formal-theoretical frameworks to apply to the analysis of the it-narrative, frameworks that would be able to sustain the considerable pressures of originality and significant signification associated with formal analysis. Rather than approaching minor genres and major works as separate but equally valued objects of study, my study brackets questions of value in favour of (1) scale: questions of relative size which, while still dependent on notions of form, depend less on a critic’s sense of aesthetic discrimination and (2) ecological attention: issues of critical disposition, and how a critic’s relation to the forms that he or she interacts with manifests itself in practice.

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