“Glimpses of the World: The Vignette in 21st-Century American Fiction” examines the relationship between contemporary digital and print fictions that center their critique in the short form of the vignette. Delineating a media archeology of short textual and visual forms in and around the book and in print culture, the project theorizes brief media as sites through which socially dominant ideologies may be contested and alternative—feminist and antiracist—epistemologies may be articulated. The historical print ephemera, social media fictions, short story cycles, and novels analyzed in this dissertation enable an understanding of our social world primarily through brief descriptive passages depicting the lived experiences of marginalized groups. These texts do not make grand pronouncements about the causes, structures, and cures of social ills; rather, they show human bodies as entangled in the material experiences and affects produced by these larger structures. Thus, the representational tactic of the vignette privileges immediate situatedness and allows writers to articulate experiences of marginalization as part of a common, shared experience or as different facets of a system of oppression whose entirety elides our grasp. Instead of focusing on potentially totalizing explanatory structures for racist, capitalist, imperialist and patriarchal domination, vignette aesthetics enables heterogenous strategies to
describe and intervene in disparate forms of precarity and oppression. Ultimately, through its examination of the forms and platforms of resistance strategies rooted in brevity, “Glimpses of the World” offers a theory of contemporary short forms of political expression that takes into account literature’s imbrication in present and historical media, and which situates literary texts as objects articulated by digital technologies, internet culture, historical media practices, and historical book design.

from Gáti, D. A. Glimpses of the World: The Vignette in 21st-Century American Fiction (Doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences).

Link to archive site and abstract: https://scholarworks.brandeis.edu/esploro/outputs/doctoral/Glimpses-of-the-World-The-Vignette/9923981792701921

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