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10 - The Evolution of Narrative Technologies

from Part III

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Nicholas D. Paige
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

Quantitative data do not support previous accounts of the novel's rise. The record shows no moments of rupture, but instead a constant formal churning. Because that churning is pattered, we may speak of the novel as in fact a system of artifacts. Appropriating the insights of Science and Technology Studies and especially the theory of technological evolution developed by W. Brian Arthur (The Nature of Technology, ), this chapter elaborates a technological model for understanding the evolution of the system, which takes place both on the level of the system as a whole and on that of the artifacts that compose it. Arthur's concept of “redomaining” — the achievement of a given purpose with a different technology — is particularly important for understanding the long delay needed for the spread of document novels, whose technology was discontinuous with respect to that of previous novels composing the system. Finally, the chapter suggests that fictionalization was part of a longue durée development of narrative postures less and less skeuomorphic with respect to oral narrative models, and more aligned with print transmission.

Type
Chapter
Information
Technologies of the Novel
Quantitative Data and the Evolution of Literary Systems
, pp. 177 - 202
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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