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Making Connections: Network Analysis, the Bildungsroman, and the World of The Absentee

Falk, Michael (2016) Making Connections: Network Analysis, the Bildungsroman, and the World of The Absentee. Journal of Language, Literature and Culture, 63 (2-3). pp. 107-122. ISSN 2051-2856. (doi:10.1080/20512856.2016.1244909) (KAR id:76745)


In the late eighteenth century, European novelists discovered youth. Writers like Goethe, Austen and Scott developed a new genre, the Bildungsroman, in which young, enthusiastic protagonists explore the world, develop themselves and find a place to remain. This, at least, has been a popular argument in modern criticism. Recently, however, Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse have brought it into question. Studying a number of British and American novels, they show that an alternative genre, the ‘network novel’, arose in the period, which ‘disrupted’ the image of an organic, domestic world that lay at the heart of the ‘domestic novel’ (their term for the classical Bildungsroman). Here, I propose that the ‘network novel’ and the ‘domestic novel’ can actually be seen as two distinct but interrelated aspects of the Bildungsroman. To demonstrate this, I use Maria Edgeworth’s The Absentee (1812) as a case study, utilising Franco Moretti’s innovative digital technique, ‘character network analysis’, to analyse its structure.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/20512856.2016.1244909
Uncontrolled keywords: Character network analysis, Bildungsroman, Maria Edgeworth, The Absentee (1812), digital humanities, long eighteenth century
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Michael Falk
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 08:18 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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