Latour & Literature


Alworth, David J. Forthcoming. “Latour & Literature.” Theory Matters: The Place of Theory in Literary and Cultural Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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In this essay, I track the relation between Latour and literature, especially as it ramifies in his recent work, and offer three ways of conceptualizing it in the context of current debates about methodology within the discipline of literary studies. Then, I demonstrate how another thinker, the sociologist Erving Goffman, can be understood as an important precursor to Latour. Finally, by tracing the parallels between these two thinkers, I argue for a new interpretive method—a ‘sociology of literature’ that would seek to apprehend the sociology in literature—and I briefly exemplify a version of this method through a reading of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, his 2006 postapocalyptic novel. My ultimate aim is not to show that either Latour’s ANT or Goffman’s dramaturgical sociology offers the hermeneutic key to a given literary text, but to suggest that these two thinkers provide compelling provocations to the discipline of literary studies at present, during a moment when critics are exploring basic questions of how, why, and even whether to read.

Last updated on 01/28/2017