Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 October 2019
This essay uses the case of Andrew Lang to assess the critical trope of the network and assess its value for contemporary historicist method. After introducing Lang’s dizzyingly productive career as media impresario, author, popularizer, and translator, it surveys the network sociologies of Pierre Bourdieu and Bruno Latour and evaluates, against these, Lang’s own networking practice. This relationship-making or mediating work is evident in Lang’s translations of Homer, his collaboratively authored novels, his popularizing sensibility, and his promiscuous approach to intellectual property. It is materialized, too, in the complicated authorial dynamics that gave rise to his Fairy Book projects. Borrowed, adapted, repackaged, and multiply mediated, these hybrid works show how attending to assemblages rather than individuals, relationships rather than instances, and edges rather than nodes, might expand conventional models of creative agency in literary studies and enable new configurations of literary-historical time. Specifically, Lang’s work on the nonlinear temporality of anthropological ‘survivals’ suggests that renewed attention to collaborative, networked causality will call into question the autonomous standing of period-concepts as such - including the decade.