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Scaling Criticism: Nanoscale, Mesoanalysis, Hyperobject

ENGL 584.301
Thursday 9:00-12:00


What size is the literary object? How is the compass of our questions about literature changing? And how have scholars in the humanities attempted to rescale their critical optics and methodologies accordingly? As we debate whether time should be deep and reading distant, whether nanopoems or behemoth multi-plot serial narratives are more adequate to our moment, we’re in greater need than ever of a metadiscourse about scale—and of a history of criticism’s implicit scales. This course will contribute to both of these projects, ranging from Susan Stewart on the miniature to Timothy Morton on the hyperobject, and—perhaps hardest of all—attempting to gauge and revitalize the inglorious middle scales where much of literature’s everyday is spent. Among our central questions: How are questions of velocity, duration, and temporality entailed when our objects and methods shrink or expand in space? What kinds of mesoanalytic differences do we risk effacing in attending to scalar extremes? And if literature plays on every octave of the keyboard of scale, how might we learn to accompany it with a more explicitly polyscalar poetics and politics?