What Are Long Novels?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Jerome Richfield 319
What Are Long Novels

We don’t have a great vocabulary for discussing length in literary studies, especially in relation to the novel. We generally call a short novel a novella, but there is no such equivalent term for a long novel. Furthermore, at what point does a novel become a long novel instead of just a novel, given that length itself is part of the definition of a novel? Beyond its total number of pages or words, and the time it takes to read, is a long novel different from a shorter novel? These are questions for which we don’t have strong answers.

Professor Thomas will discuss one approach to answering such questions by modeling novelistic length as a social network by means of a metric she calls a novel’s “intimacy index”. This model, she will argue, allows us to discuss not only the formal dimensions of novelistic length, but also questions about its social dimensions, such as who writes “long novels,” and what does novelistic length signify?

Lindsay Thomas is Assistant Professor of English, where she specializes in the digital humanities, media studies, and contemporary American literature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Surveillance & Society, American Literature, Contemporary Literature, and American Literature in Transition: 2000-2010. Her current book project, Training for Catastrophe: National Security and the Fictions of the Future, argues that the media of the national security state train us to accept catastrophe as part of everyday life. She is also co-director of WhatEvery1Says, a computational text analysis project that explores the shape of contemporary public discourse on the value of the humanities.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Digital Humanities, Sigma Tau Delta, and 4Humanities@CSUN with additional support from the College of Humanities Distinguished Visiting Spearkers Fund and the Jane Minogue Fund for the Digital Humanities.

Refreshments will be provided.