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The Modern American Network Narrative

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041866/00001

Material Information

Title: The Modern American Network Narrative
Physical Description: 1 online resource (188 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Beal, Wesley
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: american, anita, jean, john, literary, modernism, nathanael, networks
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The basic argument of The Modern American Network Narrative is that American modernism is characterized by a dialectical tension between homogeneity and dispersal, totality and fragmentation, and that these polarities are mediated by the figure of the network. Accordingly, I consider the network the defining figure of modernist aesthetics and especially modernist narrative. Chapters on Jean Toomer s Cane, Anita Loos s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, John Dos Passos s U.S.A. trilogy, and Nathanael West s The Day of the Locust demonstrate the different kinds of networks that are at play in modernism: networks of people, networks of technology and commodities, and, perhaps most importantly, networks of form. This reappraisal of modernism challenges the conventional wisdom that networks are the prevailing social metaphor for contemporary times, only recently having replaced the melting pot as the dominant metaphor for issues of globalization and the digital age, and providing a framework for the network narrative genre that is often associated with contemporary films like Crash, Syriana, and Babel. By arguing that American modernists also used networks to represent their milieu, I argue that these later network discourses actually signal a residual trace of the cultural logic of modernism. The bulk of the project is to excavate the kinds of networked representation that thrived during modernism and to consider what those lost modes of network thinking indicate about American culture during the modern period. How might modernists use networks to articulate their milieu differently than we use networks today? And how might abandoned modernist conceptions of networks provide an archaeology of possibilities for the network? The central conclusions I have reached from such prompts are twofold. First, I recover the diverse networked aesthetics that typified the modern period but are relatively undeveloped today. Second, I argue that contemporary manifestations of networks are suggestive of a nostalgia for modernism particularly its vibrant public culture.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Wesley Beal.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Hegeman, Susan E.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2011-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0041866:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0041866/00001

Material Information

Title: The Modern American Network Narrative
Physical Description: 1 online resource (188 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Beal, Wesley
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2010

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: american, anita, jean, john, literary, modernism, nathanael, networks
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: English thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The basic argument of The Modern American Network Narrative is that American modernism is characterized by a dialectical tension between homogeneity and dispersal, totality and fragmentation, and that these polarities are mediated by the figure of the network. Accordingly, I consider the network the defining figure of modernist aesthetics and especially modernist narrative. Chapters on Jean Toomer s Cane, Anita Loos s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, John Dos Passos s U.S.A. trilogy, and Nathanael West s The Day of the Locust demonstrate the different kinds of networks that are at play in modernism: networks of people, networks of technology and commodities, and, perhaps most importantly, networks of form. This reappraisal of modernism challenges the conventional wisdom that networks are the prevailing social metaphor for contemporary times, only recently having replaced the melting pot as the dominant metaphor for issues of globalization and the digital age, and providing a framework for the network narrative genre that is often associated with contemporary films like Crash, Syriana, and Babel. By arguing that American modernists also used networks to represent their milieu, I argue that these later network discourses actually signal a residual trace of the cultural logic of modernism. The bulk of the project is to excavate the kinds of networked representation that thrived during modernism and to consider what those lost modes of network thinking indicate about American culture during the modern period. How might modernists use networks to articulate their milieu differently than we use networks today? And how might abandoned modernist conceptions of networks provide an archaeology of possibilities for the network? The central conclusions I have reached from such prompts are twofold. First, I recover the diverse networked aesthetics that typified the modern period but are relatively undeveloped today. Second, I argue that contemporary manifestations of networks are suggestive of a nostalgia for modernism particularly its vibrant public culture.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Wesley Beal.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2010.
Local: Adviser: Hegeman, Susan E.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2011-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2010
System ID: UFE0041866:00001


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THE MODERN AMERICAN NETWORK NARRATIVE


By

WESLEY WILLIAM BEAL















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2010



























2010 Wesley William Beal
































To Courtney and Charley









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am indebted to my teachers at the University of Florida. Susan Hegeman, Phil

Wegner, Ed White, and Nora Alter were generous in their support of my dissertation,

and provided guidance that, to put it bluntly, resuscitated this project many times over

when I felt it was fading. Other teachers-David Leverenz, Jodi Schorb, and Malini

Schueller-provided me with introductions to our field that made this project thinkable.

As mentors for our profession, each of them has modeled the work and habits that I

aspire to in my career: enthusiasm, reflexivity, and magnanimity.

I am also grateful for the support of my colleagues. The dissertation circle of

modernist students was exceedingly generous in helping me strengthen my work.

Jordan Dominy, Mike Mayne, Patrick McHenry, and Christina Van Houten provided me

crucial feedback on these chapters, helping me give form to shaky arguments and

sharpen my readings. It is by no coincidence that these generous colleagues, along

with Regina Martin and emeritus members Nicole LaRose and Todd Reynolds, are also

members of the Marxist Reading Group. These colleagues have been instrumental in

polishing my dissertation, keeping me abreast of the field, advancing my professional

development, and maintaining my sanity throughout the doctoral program. I cannot

express my gratitude for their companionship, and hope I have reciprocated at least a

fraction of their generosity.

I would be remiss not to mention the inspirational role of my dear friends from

Hendrix, the Calico Gang: Tim Hiller, Mike Nance, Don Porter, Evan Rogers,

Christopher and Michael Simeone, and Joel Winkelman. In the plurality of their doctoral

adventures, I have found a vitality that sustains my own writing and teaching. And the









diversity of their disciplines has generated a range of issues and concerns that I strove

to bring to bear on this project. For their friendship, I am honored.

And finally, this project would not have been possible without my wife, Courtney.

Without her love, support, and unwavering companionship, I could not have undertaken

a project like this. To her I have dedicated this work, with all the love and admiration

she deserves.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C KN O W LEDG M ENTS ................................... ............ .......................... ............... 4

A B S T R A C T ........................ ...................... .. ....................................... 7

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION ....... ........... ......... ...... ......... 9

Networks In The Modern Period .. .. .................................. .................... 12
Networks In Modernism ...................................... ................ 30
"The Modern American Network Narrative" ............. ...... .................. 44

2 JEA N TO O M ER 'S CAN E ............................................................... ............... 55

Genre: Short-Story Cycles And Network Narratives ........................................ 57
Networks Of Cane ...... .......... .......... ........ ............... 61
Jean Toomer's Networked America ............................................ 79

3 ANITA LOOS'S GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES ...................................... 86

All The World's A Ritz ...................... ..................... 88
Cocktail Parties, Class, And Networks.............................. ................. 108

4 JOHN DOS PASSOS'S U.S.A. TRILOGY ...... .......... ...................................... 117

A "Four-Way Conveyor System"......... ........... ........... ................. .. 118
U.S.A.: The United Six-Degrees Of America .................................................. 128
Networks Of History ............. ..... ...... ..... ....................... ........ ....... 136

5 NATHANAEL WEST'S THE DAY OF THE LOCUST ................................ 142

Le Bon's Temps, Or "The Era Of Crowds"........... .............................. ...... ... 145
Cool Crowds: Democratic Form, Fascist Content............................ ............ 150
Movies And Masses In The Day Of The Locust................................................ 156
Networking Dem ocracy...................................... ........... 167

6 CODA ............... .................................................... ............... 174

LIST O F REFERENCES .. ................................. ........................................... 180

B IO G R A P H IC A L S K ET C H ...................... .. ............. .. ....................... ............... 188






6









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE MODERN AMERICAN NETWORK NARRATIVE

By

Wesley William Beal

August 2010

Chair: Susan Hegeman
Major: English

The basic argument of "The Modern American Network Narrative" is that American

modernism is characterized by a dialectical tension between homogeneity and

dispersal, totality and fragmentation, and that these polarities are mediated by the figure

of the network. Accordingly, I consider the network the defining figure of modernist

aesthetics-and especially modernist narrative.

Chapters on Jean Toomer's Cane, Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, John

Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy, and Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust demonstrate

the different kinds of networks that are at play in modernism: networks of people,

networks of technology and commodities, and, perhaps most importantly, networks of

form. This reappraisal of modernism challenges the conventional wisdom that networks

are the prevailing social metaphor for contemporary times, only recently having

replaced the melting pot as the dominant metaphor for issues of globalization and the

digital age, and providing a framework for the network narrative genre that is often

associated with contemporary films like Crash, Syriana, and Babel. By arguing that

American modernists also used networks to represent their milieu, I argue that these









later network discourses actually signal a residual trace of the cultural logic of

modernism.

The bulk of the project is to excavate the kinds of networked representation that

thrived during modernism and to consider what those lost modes of network thinking

indicate about American culture during the modern period. How might modernists use

networks to articulate their milieu differently than we use networks today? And how

might abandoned modernist conceptions of networks provide an archaeology of

possibilities for the network? The central conclusions I have reached from such

prompts are twofold. First, I recover the diverse networked aesthetics that typified the

modern period but are relatively undeveloped today. Second, I argue that

contemporary manifestations of networks are suggestive of a nostalgia for modernism-

particularly its vibrant public culture.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

During the 2006-2007 television season, ABC ran an ill-fated primetime drama

named 6. Created by power-producer J.J. Abrams, the program aired irregularly and

scored poor ratings before being terminated after a mere 13 episodes without even a

chance for a series finale. The title fairly signals the plot, which follows six primary

characters from various walks of life as their paths cross, converge, and entangle on the

streets of Manhattan. The cast of characters includes a struggling defense attorney, a

young woman looking for a fresh start in New York City, the widow of an embedded

journalist who was killed in Iraq, a gambling addict and chauffeur, a successful PR

executive on the verge of marriage, and a father separated from his family who is trying

to piece things back together. Each narrative becomes entangled with the others,

framing the figures as nodes on a network, a human web of interdependence that

bridges class, race, and gender to bring all of Manhattan into closer kinship. Indeed,

this multicultural, didactic element was explicitly encouraged in promotions that aired

during the short run of the series. "There is a theory that anyone on the planet can be

connected to any other person through a chain of six people. Any of them could be the

one that changes your life forever," proclaimed one spot in a bid for the program's

multicultural underpinnings.

60 banks on a now-familiar strategy of narrativizing the six-degrees-of-separation

formula. Popularized in a spate of 1990s and 2000s films-Short Cuts (1993), 71

Fragments (1994), Magnolia (1999), Amores Perros (2000), Traffic (2000), 21 Grams

(2004), Crash (2005), Syriana (2006), and Babel (2006), to name but a few of the









Western examples1-and even in Abrams's Lost series (2004-2010), this mode of

narration tends to assemble networks of characters along two planes: first, by

demonstrating their physical connectedness, signaled by scenes wherein characters

unknowingly cross paths on the street or conduct some kind of fleeting business or

social transaction; and second, by establishing shared themes that loosely tie the

characters together-like existential agony in Magnolia, racial discrimination in Crash,

or fate and agency in Lost. In both cases, it is the reader who recognizes the

networking of the characters, never the figures themselves. Recognizing the shared

conventions of these texts, scholars like David Bordwell have codified them as a

supposedly new genre: the network narrative.

One might say that after such a profusion of six-degrees texts, the banality of this

narrative formula is what finally doomed 6, which seemed to offer no intervention

beyond this organizational staple. What interests me about 6, however, is not its

ultimate failure, but how it signals two key assumptions widely held about the figure of

the network. For the network is generally accepted as the defining figure of an

intellectual history that spans only the last 30 years or so, acting as a metaphor to

describe the advances of the digital revolution as well as the flows of capital and

information in the age of globalization. And while the network's role as a literary trope is

also generally confined to this period, its function as a literary device is often restricted

to the use of the six-degrees theorem. This project challenges both of these

assumptions about the network by establishing it as a key organizational figure in

modernist intellectual production, and by showing how modernist narratives operate on

1 The bibliography of David Bordwell's "Mutual Friends and Chronologies of Chance" catalogues some
150 international films, mostly from the 1990s and 2000s, that follow this model.









networked models in ways that broaden the generic classifications that confine the

network narrative to the six-degrees formula. Moreover, the moderns' use of networked

representational models indicates how the network provided them with a conceptual tool

for grappling with the dramatic transformations of their milieu.

To discuss American modernism in terms of networked dynamics may seem like

the work of anachronism or presentism, as the network is the dominant figural metaphor

for our contemporary moment of digitization and globalization, but I think that an

emphasis on networks in modernist scholarship will help align our understanding of the

projects of modernism more closely with the way that modernists were trying to think

their own world. The cultural logic of modernism lies in the dialectical movement of two

polarities that often present scholars with interpretative difficulty. In the intellectual

production of the modern period, this dialectic is expressed in the tension between

homogeneity and dispersal, polarities that defined a host of the period's social,

economic, and technological developments. And in the scholarship of modernist

aesthetics, this dialectic is most often articulated as a tension between totalization and

the fragment, the two most basic tendencies of high modernism. This cultural logic

holds in global modernisms, but especially in American modernism, where experiments

in the paradoxes of totalization and fragmentation performed especially important work

to rethink the meaning of national space and national belonging in response to seismic

shifts in the nation's demographic makeup, and to refigurations of the center and the

periphery wrought by technological innovations such as the radio and by ever-evolving

systems of global trade. Scholars have often struggled to deal with these dialectical

polarities, and I think that the figure of the network neatly mediates this dialectical









tension, negotiating the competing visions of dispersal and unity into a system that

accommodates both via its nodal, interconnective configuration. For these reasons,

"The Modern American Network Narrative" positions the network as the defining figure

of American modernism, and explores its use as a conceptual tool that American

moderns relied on to think the changing American landscape.

Networks In The Modern Period

It is with good reason that the network is associated with the intellectual production

of postmodernity and the age of globalization. A great proportion of intellectual output

over the last 30 years, both in theory and in criticism, has operated on various forms of

networked configurations. Poststructural theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's A

Thousand Plateaus (1980) advances a theory of the rhizome, that strange body that

operates on "principles of connection and heterogeneity" so that "any point of a rhizome

can be connected to anything other, and must be" (7). Multiculturalists of the 1990s like

Charles Taylor and Kwame Anthony Appiah implicitly discuss networked systems

predicated on values of recognition, conversation, and cosmopolitan neighborliness.

Sociologist Manuel Castells has written in The Rise of the Network Society (1996) that

with informational capitalism there is an "organizational logic" that itself renders "the

logic of the network [...] more powerful than the powers in the network" (208).

Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai's Modernity at Large (1996) establishes a proliferation

of neighborhoods into "virtual neighborhoods," akin to the social networking utilities that

have come to prominence on the internet in recent years. Marxist theorists Michael

Hardt and Antonio Negri, often drawing of the work of Deleuze and Guattari, have

theorized in The Multitude (2004) that "the multitude too might thus be conceived as a

network: an open and expansive network in which all differences can be expressed









freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work

and live in common" (xiv). Sociologist and proponent of Actor-Network-Theory (ANT)

Bruno Latour has written in Reassembling the Social (2005) that a "network is an

expression to check how much energy, movement, and specificity our own reports are

able to capture. Network is a concept, not a thing out there. It is a tool to help describe

something, not what is being described" (131). And these networked configurations

also appear in more popular outlets. For example, New York Times columnist Thomas

Friedman discusses globalization in his bestsellers The Lexus and the Olive Tree

(1999) and The World is Flat (2005), both of which draw heavily on the ideational model

of networks-using humanistic networks as a solution for international problems of

human rights, and discussing how disenfranchised groups like AI-Qaeda use networked

organization to combat the networks of global power they protest.

Reading this genealogy of work, one might assume that the late twentieth-century

proliferation of network models would be directly tied to the onset of the digital

revolution-just as one might assume that the adoption of machinic language and

ideational models would follow the industrial revolution. Important theorists of digital

media and hypertextuality-one thinks of Michael Joyce, George P. Landow, and Stuart

Moulthrop, to name but a few-have borne out the strong relationship between

networked discourse and the scholarship of the digital age. But to infer that the use of

the network as a conceptual or representational tool spawned autochthonously

somewhere around 1980 signals a high degree of amnesia for much of the work that

came earlier in the century.









Social psychologist Stanley Milgram, for example, famously tested the span of

interpersonal networks in his "small world experiment" of the mid-1960s. Milgram found

that by using a chain of about six mediators, beginning with a known contact, a person

in Omaha or Wichita could deliver a letter to an unknown person in Boston if given only

the stranger's name, address, and occupation. The experiment's results were not

overwhelming: only 26% of the chains were fully completed, and even those findings

have been challenged as less than empirically sound. Nonetheless, Milgram remains a

prominent figure in network thinking and especially in popular conceptions of

networks-as indicated by Abrams's 6, which explicitly narrates the theorem Milgram

popularized, or his heavily network-structured Lost series, which relies heavily on the

six-degrees narrative formula, and in which Milgram looms vaguely, maybe menacingly

in the background in the DHARMA Initiative that eerily evokes Milgram's famous

obedience experiments.

Biographer Thomas Blass credits Milgram with more-or-less single-handedly

introducing the six-degrees theorem to the American public by arguing that John

Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation (1990) drew solely on Milgram's model (284).

The 1993 film version, starring Stockard Channing, Will Smith, and Donald Sutherland,

employs a linear narrative-not a six-degrees organization, contrary to what the title

might suggest-and it was widely celebrated, leading to an Academy Award for Best

Actress for Channing. And that film inspired the "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game that

debuted as a sketch on M.T.V.'s Jon Stewart Show in 1994-a game that still enjoys

popularity as pastime among movie buffs and the bored-which further underscores

Milgram's popular legacy in network thinking. Blass acknowledges that the M.I.T.









political scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool and I.B.M. mathematician Manfred Kochen had

already been working on a theoretical model to investigate the six-degrees theorem

(145), but he positions Milgram as the central figure in bringing the six-degrees theorem

to prominence. That claim may well hold in terms of public consciousness, as Milgram's

penchant for the dramatic experiment earned him popular recognition. When he finally

published the findings of the small-world experiment in 1967, Milgram chose

Psychology Today as the venue, opting for a wider readership than he would have

found with scientific journals. Milgram deserves much of the credit for popularizing this

particular network scheme, but to locate him as the founder of network thinking would

be a disservice to other networked models in American culture that came before him

during the modern period.2

The changing social, economic, demographic, and technological situations during

the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries called for new models of thinking about

the world, and these models very often took the shape of networks. Marconi's famed

transatlantic transmission in 1901 signaled the onset of global wireless communications,

requiring new ways to think about the local, the global, and the interrelationship of the



2 Even Walt Disney Corp's iconic theme park ride "it's a small world", which many would assume to be
derivative of Milgram's "small world experiment", predates Milgram's work. According to Stephen
Fjellman, "the original 'it's a small world' was created at the behest of the Pepsi-Cola Company for the
1964-1965 New York World's Fair" (274). And so the ride easily predates the 1967 publication of
Milgram's small-world research. After the World's Fair closed, the ride was moved to Disneyland, the
park in Anaheim, California that had opened in 1955, and it appears in the Disney parks in Orlando,
Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong. Opened in 1971, the variant that tourists find in Disney World's Magic
Kingdom in Orlando consists of six rooms that customers observe via boat on an artificial canal-the
entire circuit being scored to continuous play of the ride's famous eponymous song. Each room displays
a chorus of harmonious animatronic children and features a regionalized theme with heavy ethnic
accents: western Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pacific, and finally a grand
synthesis of the preceding rooms in what Fjellman describes as "a kind of Disney United Nations" (275).
The circuitous experience of the ride, along with the cosmopolitan intermingling of the "Disney United
Nations" room, performs a global network that comports with the ride's multicultural undertones-a project
one might also read in the ride's replication in Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.









two. The steady advance of urbanization forced people, especially in the U.S., to

reconceive the boundaries and shapes of community, the interrelationships of center

and periphery, and the meanings of pluralism and regionalism. The expansion of

American cities, paired with advances in electric lighting and public transportation,

facilitated a public culture that led people to reexamine social interrelationships in the

new "era of the crowds." The increased mobility of the period brought over twenty

million European immigrants-many were non-Protestants and were considered people

of color-to the U.S., demanding reconceptualization of the nation's identity. The

destabilization of global trade that followed World War I reconfigured trading

partnerships, and accordingly prompted new understandings of markets and neighbors,

commodities and strangers.

The radio offers a case study the modernist dialectic of centralization and

dispersal. At the turn of the century, the airwaves were a mess of conflicting signals.

Radio enthusiasts were free to choose their own frequencies, could transmit as far as

their wattage allowed, and were not restricted to any regular scheduling that listeners

could reliably tune in to. The result was an outright cacophony of overlapping signals.

The airwaves were so chaotic that transmissions detailing such important news as the

sinking of the Titanic and the ensuing rescue efforts were routinely interrupted by

competing signals. This situation provides two illustrations of the dialectic of unity and

dispersion. On the one hand, it was becoming clear that radio technology itself, which

had long been intended for point-to-point communications between two parties on the

model of the telegraph or telephone, simply was not cooperating with the objective of

perfectly linear transmissions. This was demonstrated during the interference of Titanic









transmissions, and later with transmissions during World War I, which military leaders

could not trust to be received confidentially by a single targeted audience in the field.

By the 1920s, broadcasting, the multivalent scattering of signals across the airwaves to

a widely dispersed audience, was understood to be radio's fundamental purpose,

displacing presumptions about its role as a device of linear, centrally controlled

communications. On the other hand, the untenable chaos of the airwaves called for a

series of regulatory reforms, begun by the Radio Act of 1912, which began to articulate

the airwaves as the domain of federal government instead of individual radio

enthusiasts. Anthony Rudel explains the tension that arose as then-Secretary of

Commerce Herbert Hoover led efforts to license stations and delegate them to specific

frequencies: "Hobbyists interested in using the airwaves to converse with one another

and listen to signals from distant places were in direct conflict with the companies that

were heavily invested in the technology and saw the new medium as a way to reach as

many people as possible" (50). The social space of the radio, too, staged this

dialectical tension, as governmental and corporate interests aimed to make the chaotic

airwaves safe for commerce, while individual radio enthusiasts wanted to preserve the

public element of free radio transmissions.

By November of 1928, with the help of the Radio Act of 1927, the regulatory

campaign finally achieved the reallocations of frequencies and wattage limits, rendering

the nation a fixed system of radio broadcasting. Through the 1920s, the explosive

growth of radio programming and the widening of broadcast ranges were reflected in

the wild expansion of the listening audience: in 1922, there were an estimated 60,000

radio sets in American homes, and by 1929, that number had ballooned to around 7.5









million (Rudel 105). The full coverage of the nation's radio waves, paired with the

aggressive expansion of ownership of radio sets that would continue into the

Depression years, made radio broadcasts a central feature of the national space. With

the aid of relay networks established by corporate interests, people could hear

broadcasts from across the nation, detailing news of national and regional importance.

WGN, for example had broadcast the Scopes Trial in 1925-the first live coverage of its

kind-with the Chicago Tribune trumpeting the broadcasts as "a demonstration of the

public service of radio in communicating to the masses great news events" (Larson

142). Throughout the 1920s, broadcasts of election results became a national pastime,

with restaurants and even prisons organizing events around the radio coverage (Rudel

120-21). Such coverage mixed national returns and local returns so that listeners

became familiar with not only their own local results, but also the local results being

broadcast from distant stations. The network of lines and radio signals that made such

broadcasts possible in turn created a network of listeners who were beginning to think

of their national space in just a framework.

The modernist conditions of network thinking are rooted not only in the period's

technological, social, and economic developments, but also in the ideological and

epistemological revolutions that typified the milieu. The recognition of Einstein's theory

of relativity, for example, required new means of thinking about the relationship of space

and time. And the nascent field of anthropology, once an arm of colonial expansion,

strove to assuage anxieties about Western culture and overturn theories of scientific

racism by emphasizing a cosmopolitan appreciation for global cultural diversity,

challenging provincial values of nation and identity. The advent of labor management









and discipline pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford redistributed the

linear, sequential flow of production in a traditional factory into coordinated divisions of

labor, forcing people to rethink the organization of the workplace, and accordingly

broader paradigms of social organization. Across these various fields we see the

beginnings of a revolt against conventional chains of space, people, and work, and with

the credibility of those old models deteriorating, a new organizational model would be

needed to order the world.

One of the moderns who began to articulate such a new organizational figure was

Randolph Bourne. Bourne, the public intellectual and vocal opponent of the U.S.'s entry

into World War I, concisely illustrates how networked dynamics were beginning to be

recognized, if only implicitly, even in the 1910s. In "Trans-National America," published

in Atlantic Monthly in July 1916, Bourne pronounces the failure of the melting pot-a

failure that had been in the offing well before the war began, but that was more or less

completed as the Great War took Europe and threw the U.S. into a disarray of divided

national loyalties. Bourne describes the entrenchment of "national clusters": "as they

became more and more firmly established and more and more prosperous, [they began]

to cultivate more and more assiduously the literatures and cultural traditions of their

homelands" (108). Bourne writes that the failure of an Americanism predicated on

assimilation "demands a clear and general readjustment of our attitude and our ideal,"

and he is quick to point out that this readjustment does not signal the total abandonment

of what Americans believed about themselves: to recognize the failure of the melting

pot scheme "is not, however, to admit the failure of Americanization. It is not to fear the

failure of democracy. It is rather to urge us to an investigation of what Americanism









may rightly mean" (108). It signaled, in other words, the need to redefine the U.S.'s

dichotomous impulses-to conceive of the national identity as a homogeneous whole or

as a disarray of fractured communities-through a new figural model.

The model that Bourne would propose is one that we recognize as a network

today, though he did not precisely articulate it in such terms. To replace the failed

metaphor of the melting pot, Bourne offered a new schema for thinking the nation: a

"federation of cultures" comprised of all the various national clusters that refuse

assimilation (115). Bourne's federation links together all the disparate national clusters,

transforming the nation into a network comprised of all the nodal communities of shared

identity. This federation of cultures-not the unified, homogenous melting pot-would

be "the great American democratic experiment," he wrote (Bourne 117). Like the

defunct figure of the melting pot, Bourne's networked model is based on assimilation.

But the directional quality of that assimilation process is radically different in the two

models. Bourne explains, "As long as we thought of Americanism in terms of the

'melting-pot,' our American cultural tradition lay in the past. It was something to which

the Americans were to be moulded [sic]. In the light of our changing ideal of

Americanism, we must perpetuate the paradox that our American cultural tradition lies

in the future" (115). In other words, with the melting pot the common bond is a narrowly

defined Anglo-Saxon tradition to which new entrants must conform. In Bourne's

networked configuration of the federation of cultures, on the other hand, new entrants

and new cultures have all the legitimacy of the nativist WASPs. Where the melting pot

assimilates one into a static tradition, the federation of cultures adapts and mutates with

each newly assimilated individual and culture. In re-imagining the U.S. with such a









hegemonic networked model, Bourne releases the nation from the inert melting pot and

theorizes its flexible adaptatability as an ever-dynamic network.

Bourne believed that this federations model would be successful enough in the

U.S. to be shared as a global model of conflict deterrence. He writes, "In a world which

has dreamed of internationalism, we find that we have all unawares been building up

the first international nation" and continues to argue that the U.S. has achieved "a

cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cultures, from whom the sting of

devastating competition has been removed. America is already the world-federation in

miniature" (Bourne 117). A note of American exceptionalism may ring in that

description of the U.S.'s leadership of the international sphere, but Bourne's

cosmopolitan enthusiasm is irrepressible. He concludes his article with internationalist

euphoria: "America is coming to be, not a nationality but a trans-nationality, a weaving

back and forth, with the other lands, of many threads of all sizes and colors" (Bourne

121). That Bourne rests the hopes of the nation's future-indeed, the hopes for world

peace-on a networked model is a clear marker of the network's emerging importance

as a conceptual tool during the modern period.

Had Bourne lived into the 1920s, he may have revised his "federation of cultures"

thesis or at least critiqued the backlash against his cosmopolitan vision. By the 20s, it

was widely understood among intellectuals that the particular mode of assimilation

figured by the melting pot had failed. Bourne had company in ringing the bell for the

melting pot in Horace Kallen's "Democracy Versus the Melting-Pot" (1915), and Henry

Pratt Fairchild's The Melting-Pot Mistake (1926), both of which corroborated the decline

of the symbol of unified national identity. But the turn to a nativist strand of









Americanism during the 1920s-pursued under the slogan "One Hundred Percent

Americanism" coined, perhaps inadvertently, by Theodore Roosevelt in 1915-sealed

off any chance for Bourne's utopian network to thrive. In a speech in St. Paul,

Minnesota in 1919, President Wilson tried to scapegoat immigrants for his inability to

lead Congress to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, saying, "the most un-American thing in

the world is a hyphen" (Goldberg 24). And that xenophobic sentiment became policy

with the 1924 National Origins Act that hardened immigration quotas in order to favor

"desirable" white immigrants while curtailing the immigration of Eastern Europeans and

Asians. In this political climate, the "national clusters" Bourne identified as disrupting

the assimilation of the melting pot simply withered on the vine-and Bourne's

"federation of cultures" thesis wasted away with them.

In a way, it is unsurprising that Wilson would rebuff the hyphen-the fundamental

building block of Bourne's federations model-because Wilson's appeal to Americanism

is aligned with one of the familiar polarities of the cultural logic of modernism. Despite

calls for the abandonment of the melting-pot metaphor, the allure of a homogenized

national identity carried a strong appeal for many, partly out of nostalgia for some

mythical past of an undifferentiated community, and partly out of refusal to relinquish the

authority of Anglo-Saxon formations of race and culture. This debate has typically been

read as an opposition of provincialism and cosmopolitanism, but the different models of

organization that Wilson and Bourne rely on are informative of the ideational models

that were at play during the modern period. Neither is willing to abandon a sense of

national belonging to an entropic type of dispersal that would destroy the U.S.'s

imagined community. But Wilson's conservative appeal-exactly what Bourne wrote









against when he explained the old model of Americanism was "something to which the

Americans were to be moulded"-clung to a monolithic national identity that was

increasingly untenable in praxis. Wilson's anti-hyphenate rhetoric, then, is symptomatic

of the dialectic of modernism, and is part of the intellectual tradition that Bourne and

others were working to mediate with networked models for the nation.

While Bourne's discursive solution failed to solve the material problems of

immigration and national identity or completely overcome the older principles of a

homogeneous Americanism, its networked contours were beginning to take hold among

other intellectuals of the era. The leading figures of Young America, a consortium of

urban intellectuals that included Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, Lewis

Mumford, and others, were invested in reimagining the social configuration of the United

States, and found this figuration useful. Mark Whalan characterizes the group's

common project as a commitment "to developing models of inclusive cultural

nationalism" (8)-a project that is evident in Bourne's "Trans-National America" and also

in Frank's OurAmerica, published in 1919. Our America, a product of exchanges of

cultural envoys between the U.S. and France during World War I, takes up the work of

defining American culture to a foreign audience and strives to displace the traditional

centrality of Puritan inheritance and to articulate anew American culture as it is

perceived by "the younger generation"-the "our" of the title. Frank grants the U.S. a

Whitmanian note of multitudinousness: "America is a complex of myriad lights playing

upon myriad planes [....] Its reality is but a sprawling continent-mountains and

gardenland and desert-swarmed by a sprawling congeries of people. To bound it is to

stifle it, to give it a definite character is to emasculate it, to offer it a specific voice is to









strike it dumb" (8). To articulate this multitudinous cultural conglomerate, Frank draws

loosely upon networked configuration.

Frank's articulation of an America for the young redraws the nation's cultural

genealogy, replacing the monolithic legacy of Puritan New England with a network of

cultural centers. He locates a host of cultural situations that work together as an

inclusive, organic "Whole" of America. Frank's cultural centers gesture toward the

diversity of American cultural inheritance, spanning the spatial, ethnic, literary, and

generational dimensions of American cultural diversity. He provides close study of New

England, the Native American southwest, Chicago, and New York, as well as the

contributions of Jewish Americans, Whitman, and the young generation to the

multivalent constitution of American culture. Susan Hegeman characterizes Frank's

spatial-cultural diagramming as a schema "for imagining the transformation of American

culture-from one of alienation and incompleteness to something approximating

completion and organic integrity: what Frank himself liked to refer to as a 'Whole'"

(Patterns 104). In coordinating this diverse range of sources into his vision of a

"Whole," Frank's rendering of America rejects the linearity that would draw a straight,

uninterrupted line from the Puritans to twentieth-century America. Instead, Frank

achieves a networked vision of American culture by drawing a connective web of

America's disparately threaded cultural legacies-a figuration similar to Bourne's

"federation" of national clusters.

What is important for us to take away from "Trans-National America" and Our

America is not Bourne's failure to position a "trans-national America" as the immediate

figural successor to the melting pot, or Frank's failure to completely displace the linearity









of the traditional cultural model of the U.S. Instead, Bourne and Frank are noteworthy in

their recognition that the network would prove to be a valuable tool in reconceptualizing

the U.S. in light of the major shifts of the period. They signal, in other words, the

breaking of the ground in the network's deployment as an ideational model-not its

apotheosis as the dominant figural metaphor, which would begin with the discourses of

globalization and the digital revolution in the 1980s. Nevertheless, Bourne's use of the

network to redefine American national identity and ethnic affiliation, like Frank's use of it

to reconceive of American culture, indicates the important work to which network

figuration was assigned during the modern period. And while neither Bourne nor Frank

deploy the language or vocabulary of networks as we recognize those discourses today,

they both work on similar problematic, defining America and American culture

according to a constellar aggregate of diverse "national clusters" and centers of culture.

Even without articulating these models as networks, Bourne and Frank signal the

network's importance as an ideational model for modern intellectuals.

While Bourne, Frank, and others were developing the ideational model of

networks, networks were also being put into practice as an organizational principle in

many fields of modern American society, complementing work like "Trans-National

America" and OurAmerica as another mode of intellectual history. The corporation

provides one case study in the rise of network models during the period, familiarizing

many with networked organization through their lived experience of the rapidly changing

workplace. The traditional wisdom on the development of the corporation is that during

the modern period its organization was strictly hierarchical, monolithic, centralized.

Conversely, sociologist Manuel Castells demonstrates how contemporary corporations









are typically held up as examples of the networked formations of the postmodern, global

era: "multinational corporations are increasingly decentralized internal networks,

organized in semi-autonomous units, according to countries, markets, processes, and

products. Each one of these units links up with other semi-autonomous units of other

multinationals, in the form or ad hoc strategic alliances" (122). Castells is right to

associate this fluidly networked mode of corporate organization with the late twentieth-

century advent of the multinational, but even within the modern period we see American

corporations taking on the organizational model Castells identifies in their descendants

a few decades later.

The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932), the foundational study of

corporate governance by Adolph Berle and Gardiner Means, measures some of the

stakes of these nascent developments in corporate organization. The central argument

of the book is that corporations have eroded the traditional institution of private property

with a system of "multiple ownership." Berle and Means contend that the corporation's

signal intervention is the separation of owning stockholders from the managerial control

of the corporations: "No longer are the individuals in control of most of these

companies, the dominant owners. Rather, there are no dominant owners, and control is

maintained in large measure apart from ownership" (117). This phenomenon creates a

paradox, as the increased dispersal of stock ownership results in the increased

centralization of power by corporate managers. This consolidation of power-by

managers, and by corporate firms generally-was a major concern during the modern

period. Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons (1934), for example, studies the

consolidation of wealth through the paths of captains of industry such as Andrew









Carnegie, Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and others

whose corporate firms heavily influenced the American economy-so much so that they

nearly constituted an oligarchy. Josephson laments the centralization of corporate

power, writing that when these men entered history "the United States was a

mercantile-agrarian democracy. When they departed or retired from active life, it was

something else: a unified industrial society, the effective economic control of which was

lodged in the hands of a hierarchy" (vii). Fears of the modern corporation's centralizing

powers had already brought about the Clayton Act of 1914, a piece of anti-trust

legislation that prohibited inter-firm dealings that could lessen competition in the

markets.

But the Clayton Act itself demonstrates the role the modern corporation played in

the emergence of the figure of the network. As Mark Mizruchi puts it, the primary goal

of the legislation was to outlaw "interlocks between competing companies within

particular industries" (99). In other words, while the centralizing power of a single

corporation was worrisome, the potential for multiple firms to interconnect and expand

their sphere of influence demanded regulation. Mizruchi ultimately finds that the

Clayton Act had little impact on inter-corporation networking, but its very passage

demonstrates awareness that it was not only the centralizing force of the corporation,

but also the power of networked corporations that would require regulatory attention.3




3 Mizruchi's data shows that inter-corporation interlocks increased in number from 1904 to 1912, but
declined from 1912 to 1935. He suggests that "what began around 1912 was a trend which would have
occurred irrespective of the Clayton Act" (183). Instead, he explains the declining numbers by pointing to
an accompanying decline of "heavily interlocked individuals" (184). In other words, as figures like E.H.
Harriman, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Sr., and others-figures Josephson would identify as "robber
barons"-died or reached retirement, the interlocking links between corporations often expired with them.









In response to atomizing legislation like the Clayton Act and the ever-present

imperative to grow, the modern corporation began a process of internal diversification-

the expansion of operations to house new, often unrelated projects within the same firm,

acting as the inverse of outsourcing-to sidestep the limits placed on interlocking

relationships. Jon Didrichsen locates this development in the 1920s, which saw the

onset of "the large, diversified, multi-divisional firm in the United States. In the years

which have passed since that decade, the strategy of diversification rather than that of

integration, and the multi-divisional as opposed to the functional organization have

become dominant characteristics of many large firms in American industry" (38). In

Didrichsen's account, a firm that diversified to expand its profits would meet challenges

with the myriad technologies, manufacturing demands, distribution channels, and

managerial exigencies of the new line, and this resulted in the decentralized, multi-

divisional model of organization that typifies the multinational (39). This organizational

process, he writes, "was pioneered by Du Pont and General Motors in the 1920's and

was soon accepted by firms in the chemical, motor vehicle, and electrical industries"

(Didrichsen 39). The rippling effects later spread to "processors of agricultural products

and the oil and rubber industries," but the fully networked conglomerate did not arrive

until the early 1950s (Didrichsen 39-40).

Again, radio provides a case study for this organizational model. The Radio

Corporation of America (RCA) was formed in 1919 by the General Electric Company

(GE) at the behest of the Navy Department, which was concerned about the British-

owned Marconi Company of America's administration of U.S. airwaves (Rudel 23). GE,

presumably, was the logical choice for this acquisition because of its deep pockets and









its expertise in electronics. The link between radio production and radio broadcasting is

of course only nominal, but throughout the 1920s, it provided a model followed by many

other firms-the Westinghouse Electric Company, the Crosley Manufacturing Company,

Love Electric, and others-that established and bought up radio stations across the

country with the goal of building demand for the products they were already

manufacturing (Rudel 31, 63-67). When these companies' dominion of the airwaves

was seen to verge on restraint of trade, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was

created in 1926, owned 50% by RCA, 30% by GE, and 20% by Westinghouse (Rudel

93). Now separated into autonomous firms, GE and RCA took on responsibilities in

addition to their original missions of manufacturing and broadcasting to include the

unfamiliar work of entertainment programming.4 Through the mediating link of NBC, GE

and RCA demonstrate two levels of networks in the corporate organization of the

modern period: on the one hand, they are formally separate firms involved in internal

diversification, but on the other hand, their mutual entanglement places them in an

external network of corporate interests.

Where the corporation of the late twentieth century is fully networked internally and

externally, as Castells describes it, the corporation of the modern era presents a

paradox of centralized and networked organization, reflecting the modern period's

dialectic of unity and dispersal. The development of Du Pont during the modern period

is another telling case study. On the one hand, Du Pont exercised a high degree of


4 This seemingly arbitrary project of diversification is behind a running joke on NBC's sitcom 30 Rock
(2006-present), set mostly in the GE building on Rockefeller Plaza where NBC Studios are
headquartered. GE executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) carries the title of "Vice President of East
Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming," and often in the earlier seasons he toggles
schizophrenically between responsibilities managing a sketch comedy series and overseeing microwave
product design.









financial and operating controls over its production departments; on the other hand, the

process of diversification led Du Pont from thinking of itself largely as a producer of

chemicals and synthetic fibers to considering itself a leading producer in such disparate

fields as photographic film and pharmaceuticals (Didrichsen 41-42). It retains the

centralized accumulation of power that so threatened Josephson and Berle and Means,

but it also shows signs of the networked corporation that would define corporate

organization toward the close of the century.

These cursory treatments of Bourne, Frank, and the corporation are but a small

sampling of the emergence of networked models during the modern period. As markers

of intellectual history, they gesture toward the myriad responses to the technological,

social, and economic developments that were demanded of the moderns, and, equally

importantly, they mediate the dialectical tension of centralization and dispersal that is

the cultural logic of modernism. These emergent networked figurations-limited as they

are in their capacities as essay, cultural criticism, and business organization-are

complemented in another form of modernist intellectual history, narrative, that will be the

subject of this project.

Networks In Modernism

In addition to the emergence of networked dynamics in the work of public

intellectuals like Bourne, culture critics like Frank, and leaders of the corporate world,

modernist aesthetics provided another field for experimentation with networked models

in the intellectual history of the modern period, and indeed mark another sphere of

engagement with the cultural logic of modernism. We can locate the moderns'

increasing deployment of networked configuration in a variety of the period's trademark

experiments in the arts, such as collage in the visual arts and montage in film, and









especially in the narrative experiments that I will focus on in the following chapters. Like

the intellectual projects discussed above, American modernists were responding to

dramatic changes in the developments in various fields of technology, the national and

global economies, epistemology, and communities both metropolitan and peripheral-

changes that often led them to rethink the nature of their art and its relation to life in the

U.S. and abroad. It comes as no surprise, then, that American modernists, whether

committed to popular modernisms or avant-garde experimental modernism, would find

the network a helpful figure in articulating their complex milieu, and in negotiating the

dialectic of centralization and dispersal.

Before beginning to address the networked figuration of modernist narrative, I

think it would be helpful to contextualize it amid other networked experiments in

modernist aesthetics that were in deep conversation with modernist writers, as chapters

on Jean Toomer's Cane (1923) and John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy (1930-36) will

demonstrate. Collage, for example, is an umbrella term for several techniques- paper

coll6, assemblage, decoupage, photomontage, montage, and so on-that share a

common aesthetic of dismemberment, simultaneity, and integration, and in the process

challenge traditional assumptions about surface and, as Marjorie Perloff writes, "the

representability of the sign" (10). The technique was pioneered with Pablo Picasso's

Still Life with Chair Caning and Georges Braque's Fruit Dish-both debuted in 1912,

though art historians, to say nothing of the dispute between the artists themselves,

disagree about whose piece came first-and remained a staple of global modernisms.

But collage nonetheless acquired a distinctly American character because of its

association with commodification, which in turn evokes the modern American milieu.









Such works rely on a spatialized semiotics, creating conspicuous lacunae between

some images and striking juxtapositions between others to foster proliferating

relationships of incongruities across the field of vision. Often collage is discussed as

operating on a simple, static logic of juxtaposition, when instead a work of collage

creates myriad links of meaning on a more fully integrated model. Jean-Jacques

Thomas relates this to a hermeneutic of networks, writing that collage subverts "the

graphic accumulation with cutups which, at the formal level, signal the importance of the

deconcatenation of the verbal chain. Nevertheless, what is implied, beyond this

empirical observation, is the establishment of new networks of significance" (80). In

other words, the creation of meaning takes place in the interstices of different images

and materials, and this representational strategy can be read as an inherently

networked formulation: the viewer must assemble the disparate images into some kind

of a whole by imagining the relational lines of connection and disconnection that make

the piece a unified organism.

Whereas collage operates spatially to produce gaps and juxtapositions that are

interconnected through the relational lines of the network, montage functions on a

similar scheme involving both spatial and temporal breaks and linkages that the viewer

assembles into an integrated, if not altogether coherent, unit. Montage is, of course, a

formal relative of collage, and like collage it is an umbrella term that groups together a

set of techniques in film-sequential revolutions, overlays, split images, mirrored

images, and so on-that deconstruct narrative linearity and challenge even the

possibility of Realist representation. Montage was pioneered by Russian filmmakers

such as Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov throughout the 1920s, and David Kadlec









argues that it is an intrinsically Russian form, writing that "the defining characteristics of

Soviet film, such as the makeup and pace of their montage sequences, were

determined by material circumstances, including an acute shortage of film stock during

the transitional post-Revolutionary years" (303-04). But of course montage quickly

became a staple technique of popular and experimental film, albeit in varying degrees of

intensity.5 Like collage, montage is often described in terms of juxtaposition, wherein

the production of meaning takes place in the collision of conflicting images. But again I

think this reading of the form oversimplifies the form's insistence on an integrated

whole, privileging local disjunctures over the constellar assembly of the entire piece.

Walter Benjamin underscores montage's totalizing impulse in The Arcades Project

(1982), itself an exercise in what he describes as "literary montage," in writing that the

technique asks the viewer to "assemble large-scale constructions out of the smallest

and most precisely cut components. Indeed, to discover in the analysis of the small

individual moment the crystal of the total event" (461). The dialectical nature of the

process Benjamin describes is best understood as a networked strategy of

representation and interpretation: artist and viewer alike construct a web of meanings

from the host of interconnecting lines that link the disparate images and sounds into a

convergent whole.

The common project of collage and montage lies in a dual emphasis on formal

fragmentation and totalization-a project that is a defining feature across high modernist

aesthetics, and that reflects the cultural logic of the modern period. This dualism is also

one of the constitutive elements of modern American narrative. The fragment has long

5 Kadlec observes that some Hollywood filmmakers derisively referred to Eisenstein's films as using
"choppy cutting" because of the speed of his cuts (325 n. 20).









been recognized as a standard trope of modernist fiction and verse, and totalization has

been established as an equally central element in modernist literature. These

competing impulses-to represent a society breaking into pieces under the pressures of

rapid social changes, and simultaneously to find a semblance of unity to guard against

outright societal entropy-coincide in the form, as well as the content, of major works of

high modernism. As I have indicated in the brief discussions of collage and montage,

and as I will demonstrate further in the following chapters on modern American

narratives, I believe this dichotomy in modernist narrative can be helpfully articulated

through the figure of the network, which mediates the polarities of totality and fragment

and draws them into a constellar system-just as the network mediates the dialectical

tension of homogeneity and dispersal for modern intellectuals like Bourne. Simply put,

the dialectical entanglement of fragmentation and totalization is predicated on the

constellar model of the network, openly accommodating dispersal and the nodal

configuration of fragments while still insisting on a whole that takes the form of a

network.

For American modernists to insist on such a totalizing form does not suggest

nostalgia for a mythic wholeness of the bygone past, some desperate longing for the

simpler times of knowable communities. Instead, American modernists used network

figuration to rethink the very meaning of wholeness and to generate new models for

grappling with the changing dynamics of the national space. Not only did these writers

use this conceptual tool to rethink the boundaries of representation as part of the

modernist rejection of Realist conventions, but they also discovered their usefulness in

rethinking the milieu of the modern period. Like Bourne and Frank, American









modernists found in networked models opportunities to articulate major societal

changes and to expand the conventions of representation corresponding to the

changing American landscape. The ideational model of networks, to gesture toward the

case studies that occupy my chapters, could prove handy in rethinking the changing

configurations of race in America, in reimagining the interrelated nature of the class

system, in redrawing the contours of history and historical study, and in re-envisioning

the core dynamics of democracy-issues that demanded reconsideration in light of the

raft of transformations the modern period underwent.

For one example of this dialectical movement of fragment and totality in the formal

composition of modernist narratives, we might consider the short-story cycle. The

typical conventions of this genre involve a set of stories being linked-by plot, character,

setting, thematic patterns, relation to a commonly experienced event, and so on-so

tightly that the composite rendering of the individual texts deepens the component parts

and the whole text alike. The proliferation of the short-story cycle during modernism

signals its stature as one of the period's trademark innovations: Willa Gather's The Troll

Garden (1905), Gertrude Stein's Three Lives (1909), Henry James's The Finer Grain

(1910), Edith Wharton's Tales of Men and Ghosts (1910), Sherwood Anderson's

Winesburg, Ohio (1919), Waldo Frank's City Block (1922), Ernest Hemingway's In Our

Time (1925), Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), John Steinbeck's

Tortilla Flat (1935), Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men (1935), Richard Wright's

Uncle Tom's Children (1938), and Faulkner's The Unvanquished (1938)-to give but a

survey of the many texts scholars point to when establishing the short-story cycle's

emergence in American modernism.









At first glance, these works may appear to be volumes or portfolios of the writer's

"greatest hits," given that they collect disparate short fiction and in some cases poems,

as well. It is myopic, however, to read them as fragmentary assortments of texts

because they always carry some sort of totalizing impulse that demands readers to

draw connective lines between the diverse texts. In such cases, the author's avoidance

of titles suggesting assortment or merely replicating the title of a shorter work provides

an early cue that the work aspires to some totalizing integration of the fragmented texts.

Ultimately, short-story cycles act as systems of independent, self-contained pieces

organized into a unifying whole-an aesthetic system that today we would articulate in

the vocabulary of networks. As networks spanning their constitutive texts, these short-

story cycles worked in a variety of ways to rethink national space. Texts like Anderson's

Winesburg, Ohio or Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat operate on an axis of place that bridges

center and periphery to create connective lines that readers could replicate in other

contexts. In other cases, texts such as Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey articulate

modernist problems of temporality with networks that link together generations of

development into a coherent system. In other words, by bridging chasms of time and

place with multidimensional linking mechanisms, the short-story cycle negotiates the

modernist cultural logic of centralization and dispersal, navigating this dialectical tension

with the mediating system of the network.

Some close reading of the scholarship on this genre demonstrates the degree to

which these texts-and equally significantly, the scholarly discourse about them-draw

upon networked dynamics. Though the form was well-established across some 30

years of narrative production, the taxonomic term "short-story cycle" would have been









unfamiliar to modern writers and critics, since it was not even the subject of a book-

length worth until 1971 with the publication of Forrest Ingram's Representative Short

Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century. The scholarship that followed served to

establish the short-story cycle's generic parameters with significant use of networked

formulations.

Ingram, for example, describes the genre as "a set of stories linked to each other

in such a way as to maintain a balance between the individuality of each of the stories

and the necessities of the large unit" (15). Susan Garland Mann writes that in the genre

"the stories are both self-sufficient and interrelated. On the other hand, the stories work

independently of one another: the reader is capable of understanding each of them

without going beyond the limits of the individual story. On the other hand, however, the

stories work together, creating something that could not be achieved in a single story"

(15). Maggie Dunn and Ann Morris argue that the short-story cycle's independently

complete and autonomous texts "are interrelated in a coherent whole according to one

or more organizing principles" and describe the text's organization as "a tissue of fine

connectives" (2, 13). In these cases, the scholarly formulation for the genre takes the

shape of a network: autonomous stories acting as nodes comprising the network-the

"coherent whole," as Dunn and Morris put it-that holds the text together as a constellar

body. That the scholarship on this genre arrives during the late twentieth-century

fixation on network figuration should come as no surprise: as Ingram, Mann, and Dunn

and Morris were studying the conventions of the short-story cycle, the increasing

attention to the ideational modeling and metaphorical significance of networks likely

influenced their demarcations of the genre's conventions.









By and large, however, scholarship on the short-story cycle falls short of

historicizing the genre's prominence in American modernism. Mann, for example, finds

a correspondence between the rise of the short-story cycle and the profusion of avant-

garde "little magazines" like The Dial and The Masses that, along with major-market

publications such as The Saturday Evening Post, made the short story a bankable

project for many modernist writers (8). But there is still room to read more complexity in

the relationship between this emergent genre and the milieu from which it arose. For

the short-story cycle is not merely the byproduct of trends in magazine publication, but a

mode of formal experimentation that modernists could use to think the ruptures and

ligatures that were changing the features and meaning of American culture. In

Winesburg, Ohio, for example, Anderson explores the stories of several different figures

connected by setting, by their relation to the Bildungsroman character George Willard,

and by thematic likenesses such as loneliness, restlessness and grotesqueness.

Anderson's perspectivist rendering of a rural Victorian-era town deconstructs the "unity"

etymology of "community," rendering Winesburg not a monolithically unified social

formation, but a network of its constituents. Hemingway's In Our Time, by contrast,

offers no unity of plot, setting, or character: with some of its stories featuring the

maturation of Nick Adams and others having nothing whatsoever to do with

Hemingway's protagonist, and with inter-chapters that are still further removed from

Nick's development-in effect a much more disparate set of texts than those centrally

oriented around the township of Winesburg. But scholars such as Debra Moddelmog

have argued that In Our Time should be understood as a loosely coordinated narrative

by looking at the similarities of plots throughout the stories, finding one in which we









know Nick to be involved, and deducing that the others have been written by Nick under

the mask of an alter ego through a sort of meta-authorship.6 The result is that In Our

Time poses a networked self that is assembled across several disparate texts-not a

static, monolithic identity, but a subjectivity built upon a constellar model. In both cases,

at the risk of belaboring the issue, Anderson and Hemingway rely on networked

figuration to represent community and subject, putting their formal experimentation in

dialogue with the same conditions that led Bourne, Frank, and other intellectuals to use

networked models to rethink American culture of the modern period.

The prevalence of major-market magazines in the construction of the modernist

short-story cycle prompts us to consider popular modernisms as well as the formal

experimentation of more avant-garde works. Indeed, both popular and avant-garde

writers published in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Harper's Bazar,

challenging the traditional dichotomy of high and popular modernisms.7 In the popular

works of the period, the use of networks shifts from form to content-often to

representation of the public culture that thrived during the modern period, and that was

itself constitutive of popular modernisms. Hegeman has argued that the modern period

was characterized by "a different arrangement of social space than the one we now

experience"-one that put a much higher value on spaces of public gathering

("Haunted" 300). This public culture, as David Nasaw points out, was facilitated by the

shortened workday's creation of leisure time, the electrification projects that turned cities

into playgrounds of nightlife entertainments, and the expansion of public transit-all of

6 See Debra Moddelmog's "The Unifying Consciousness of a Divided Conscience: Nick Adams as Author
of In Our Time." American Literature 60.4 (Dec. 1988): 591-610.
7 See Karen Leick's "Popular Modernism: Little Magazines and the American Daily Press." PMLA 123.1
(January 2008): 125-39.









which resulted from the sheer human density created by urbanization (3-9). The result

of these developments was a spirit of public exchange, as people mixed with

unprecedented disregard for traditional social barriers like ethnicity, religious affiliation,

or occupation; only persons of color remained excluded from sites of public culture.

This "different arrangement of social space," whose rise and fall generally correspond to

the bookends of the modern period, prompted moderns to rethink social formations,

often with use of networked figuration.

This public culture manifests itself in the content of modernist narrative in two

ways that draw heavily on networked figuration: representation of public spaces and

crowds. The heterogeneity that typifies the space of such public exchanges made for a

popular choice of setting in many works. Raucous movie theaters of the nickelodeon

era, cavernous movie palaces, the curious sociological site of dance halls, amusement

parks attracting people from all walks of life, and city streets themselves-these all

provided settings in which strangers mixed freely, defying many of the quarantining

norms of class and ethnicity. Writing of 1930s Hollywood film, Rem Koolhaas argues

that the hotel, another of these public spaces,

relieves the scriptwriter of the obligation of inventing a plot. A Hotel is a
plot-a cybernetic universe with its own laws generating random but
fortuitous collisions between human beings who would never have met
elsewhere. It offers a fertile cross section through the population, a richly
textured interface between social castes, a field for the comedy of clashing
manners and a neutral background of routine operations to give every
incident dramatic relief. (149-50)

Koolhaas is thinking of films like Edmund Goulding's Grand Hotel (1932), but the same

could be said of several other modernist works. For example, Horace McCoy's They

Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) takes place at a dance marathon, the entertainment

fad of the Depression era. Here, the public space of the dance floor facilitates a mix of









aspiring stars looking for their big break, the down-and-out looking for a reliable source

of meals, and criminals on the run looking for a place to blend into the crowd. The

dance marathon's system of interchangeable partners constantly invents new links

between the dancers, and the patronage of dedicated fans forges links between

dancers and their audience, together building an interpersonal network out of the public

spaces of the dance marathon. That the public space itself could function as the plot in

such narratives demonstrates the moderns' curiosity with its influence over social

organization. For the public space is not merely an inert setting, but an agential force of

networking: it forces disparate individuals into contact, and while that contact often falls

short of intimate and lifelong ties, it fosters myriad transitory links connecting each

individual to the others through innumerable other mediating links-in effect using

space itself to create a social network in defiance of stratifying social systems of class,

gender, ethnicity, and so on.

In a related fashion, another manifestation of public culture in modernist narrative,

the representation of crowds, focuses not on the spatial organization involved in public

culture, but on the very specific social formation it produced. The modern period was,

as Gustav Le Bon famously proclaimed in The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

(1895), "the era of crowds." While the figure of the crowd was often used to malign the

lower orders of the class system as hive-mindedly destructive, it also provided a handy

conceptual tool to think the new experience of urbanization. For example, in King

Vidor's film The Crowd (1928), the crowd acts as a generic antithesis to the domestic

sphere. In an early title card, protagonist Johnny Sims is advised, "You've got to be

good in that town if you're going to get ahead of the crowd." This crowd-as-competition









motif is reinforced in a sequence of shots featuring the city's human density that scale

bigger and bigger to the city's imposing skyscrapers, one of which gives way to an

interior view of a massive Taylorized workplace where Johnny's desk is but a speck in

the crowded room.8 For Vidor, the crowd is an abstraction of the urban experience that

only exists as an implicit counterpoint to the domestic sphere.

And at a further allegorical remove, the crowd provided writers a figure by which to

imagine possibilities for flattened, truly democratic social bodies. When the child David

Schearl is electrocuted by the third rail in the climax of Henry Roth's Call It Sleep

(1934), it is a crowd of onlookers that comes to the rescue. Roth presents a cacophony

of disembodied voices representing the many dialects of New York's Lower East Side:

"W'at?" "W'ut?" "Va-at?" "Gaw blimey!" "W'atsa da ma'?," they cry out as they discover

David's body on the rails (419). This synecdochal rendering of the city's ethnic diversity

acts together, collectively finding a broom and arranging David's rescue from the tracks.

The effect is twofold: Roth's crowd rejects the stereotypically destructive behavior of

so-called "crowd mentality," and their coordinated efforts gesture toward a bridging of

ethnic dispersal that might only be performed in the networked environment of the

crowd. The integrated heterogeneity of the crowd marks it as a social formation that

renders each individual on a leveled plane, relating to one another by interpersonal

mediating links, instead of defining relationships according to social institutions like, in

the case of Call It Sleep, ethnicity. So while representations of the crowd often

connoted the vacuity and viciousness of mythic "crowd mentality," they also carried a


8 For a lucid periodizing study of the spatial theory of the office throughout the twentieth century, see
Jeremy Myerson's "Power of the Network: Transitions in Working Life from Taylorist Time and Motion to
Networked Space" in Networks of Design. Ed. Jonathan Glynne, Fiona Hackney, and Viv Minton. Boca
Raton, FL: Universal, 2009. 11-17. Electronic book.









utopian charge, positing a field in which individuals are freed from institutional social

barriers to create links of their own design.

Characterological networks, the narrative analogue of what today we refer to as

the six-degrees-of-separation theorem, provided modernists with another way of

articulating the period's social changes in content. This now-familiar strategy enlists a

large cast of characters, whose lives become entangled as they appear, disappear, and

reappear in varying levels of intimacy with each other. Often the ligatures between

characters are fleeting and cursory, or characters are only related through a string of

mediating links, or characters themselves are unaware of their own connections to each

other created by chance crossings. The contingent nature of many of these

interconnections assigns the reader the responsibility of drawing the constellar lines

between characters to articulate the network that they do not have the perspective to

recognize. This is the organizational principle in, for example, Dos Passos's Manhattan

Transfer (1925), wherein the operant "transfer" is not a rail station but the myriad

exchanges that take place between the novel's dozens of characters as their lives

intersect, entangle, and diverge-a strategy Dos Passos also deployed throughout the

fictional narratives of his U.S.A. trilogy. Characterological networks offered modernist

writers a means of rethinking the physical boundaries of a knowable community, as well

as the degrees of intimacy needed to maintain it-a vital response to the rapidly

urbanizing, globalizing world.

From collage in the visual arts to characterological networks in modernist fiction,

the use of network figuration is implicit. The artists themselves do not articulate these

representative strategies in a vocabulary that today we would associate with the









discourses of networks that have attended the digital revolution and the most recent

phases of globalization. But these later discourses illuminate the modernist projects

that anticipate the networked patterns and principles that would rise to prominence in

the theory and representation of the late twentieth century. What I am suggesting, then,

is not an anachronistic application of contemporary paradigms backward onto texts that

have little use for them, but a study of how these modernist texts prefigure much of

today's network discourse-often fumbling in the dark to arrive at the right articulation-

and even provide us an archaeology of possibilities for networked thought by reminding

us of theoretical and representational models that have fallen by the wayside

somewhere in the passage of the twentieth century. Reading networks in modernist

narrative is informative of the intellectual history of networked discourses, and will

illuminate the distinct ways in which moderns used such figurations to deal with their

changing milieu.

"The Modern American Network Narrative"

The use of characterological networks in modernist fiction like Manhattan Transfer

leads us to return to the case of ABC's failed series 6, and to discuss the stakes of

"The Modern American Network Narrative." Prompted by the profusion of this brand of

networked representation through the 1990s and 2000s, and by the emergence of

hypertextual fiction, scholars have begun to codify the conventions of a supposedly new

genre-the network narrative-according to a narrow slice of networking devices in a

narrow period of textual production. The first objective of my dissertation, then, is to

correct this oversimplification of the genre by looking at its diversity of conventions and

by broadening its period through the study of modernist texts that operate on networked

organization or otherwise represent social networks.









Film critic David Bordwell's discussion of the network narrative in Poetics of

Cinema (2008) is symptomatic of this uninformed confinement of the genre. Drawing on

prior studies of "thread structure" and his own exploratory work on the genre, Bordwell

tries to position the genre as solely an outcropping of the six-degrees theorem.9

Referencing films such as Robert Altman's Short Cuts, Wong Kar-wai's Chungking

Express (1994), Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), and Paul Thomas Anderson's

Magnolia, Bordwell posits narratological claims that chance is the motivator of these

texts' social networks, that the traffic accident is the genre's standard figuration of

convergence, and that their fundamental tensions are between realism and contrivance,

accident and destiny. Bordwell allots the bulk of his study to talking about the extent to

which characters are "goal driven," or observing how the action of these texts takes

place in a common time scheme, or describing how many networks are related by an

"event frame," or demonstrating how the "suppressive The notable thing about

Bordwell's treatment of the network narrative in Poetics of Cinema is that while he

makes perfunctory nods to predecessor texts like Manhattan Transfer, The Bridge of

San Luis Rey, Vicki Baum's Shanghai '37 (1939) and others, his impulse is to locate the

network narrative in the 1990s and 2000s. And it is easy enough for Bordwell to

perform this historical truncation, because the criteria by which he judges the genre

consist only of characterological schemes for constructing representational networks.




9 See Evan Smith's "Thread Structure: Rewriting the Hollywood Formula." Journal of Film and Video
51.3-4 (Fall-Winter 1999): 88-96. See also David Bordwell's "Subjective Stories and Network
Narratives." The Way Hollywood Tells It. Berkeley: U California P, 2006. 72-103. Both of these texts
are rigorously anti-theoretical and anti-historicist in their treatment of the genre, preferring a narratological
approach to generic conventions. They are useful markers, however, of nascent attempts to codify the
generic boundaries of period and convention









David Ciccoricco's Reading Network Fiction (2007) stages a similar truncation of

the genre, locating it in the narrative production of digital environments. "Network

fiction," he writes, "makes use of hypertext technology in order to create emergent and

recombinatory narratives" (Ciccoricco 4). Because of their non-linear organization, such

stories demand that readers combine and recombine the different nodal units of the text

to produce a more coherent, amalgamated narrative. It is a formulation that might seem

well suited to the modernist aesthetics of networks that we discussed above, except that

for Ciccoricco they can only take place in electronic media: "Writers of network fictions

are less concerned with confronting the reader with mutually exclusive outcomes and

more concerned with the way narratives emerge in digital environments" (6). This is a

helpful premise for approaching his objects of study-works from the Storyspace

school, so named because they were written in the Storyspace hypertext authoring

software, such as Michael Joyce's afternoon (1990), or Judd Morrisey's The Jew's

Daughter (2000). Like Bordwell, he places severe strictures on the formal and historical

spectrum of the network narrative genre.

The point of generic classification is, of course, to limit the field to a set of patterns

that texts have in common. In this respect Bordwell and Ciccoricco-and the other

scholars of whom I take them as representative examples-succeed in delineating a

very clearly demarcated set of conventions by which to group texts. To define a genre

is a terribly messy business that almost always entails amendment and revision, so I

certainly empathize with Bordwell and Ciccoricco when I advance a more inclusive

formulation for the network narrative: simply that it mediates the dialectic of totalization

and fragmentation with linking mechanisms that draw atomized nodal formations into a









constellar system. Precisely what kind of networks such a narrative might use as a

narrational model is variable-networks of people, material or technological networks,

and perhaps most relevant to the American modernists, networks of form itself, to name

but a few possibilities to supplement Bordwell's and Ciccoricco's contributions. Of

course this flexibility is at once the strength and the weakness of such a loose definition,

and for my purposes it allows us to read the networked dynamics of modernist texts

such that we can expand the generic conventions of the network narrative.

The texts that I have selected for this project follow that generic dictate in ways

that are often radically different from the kinds of texts typically grouped together as

network narratives in contemporary scholarship. They rely on formal devices of

fragmentation and reintegration to stage different allegories for national space as a

negotiation of unity and dispersal. Or they use particular spaces and group formations,

such as the hotel and the crowd, to theorize social configurations that reassemble

modernism's diverging emphases on totality and the fragment. In expanding the

generic conventions of the network narrative outlined by Bordwell and Ciccoricco, these

readings not only locate the network as an important dynamic of modernist aesthetics,

but also explore some of the techniques of networked figuration that are largely absent

in today's manifestations of the genre and its scholarship. The public spaces of the

hotel and the crowd's figuration of public culture, for example, provide us with an

archaeology of forgotten or abandoned methods of narrating the dialectic of totality and

the fragment. The study of these lost domains of the network narrative genre is

instructive of the genre's limitations today, but also the limitations of contemporary

network thinking.









But even while "The Modern American Network Narrative" stakes out the

discontinuities of the genre over the last century, there are some continuities worth

observing in relation to the conditions of network thinking. From my claim that the

network narrative genre's primary function is to negotiate the dialectic of totality and

fragment, unity and dispersal, it might follow that the genre is wholly confined to the

modern period, which at the outset I characterized as having a cultural logic of that very

dialectical tension. While this dialectic is the dominant tension of the modern period-in

the work of intellectuals like Bourne and Frank, in the organization of corporations and

the Fordist workplace, in modernist aesthetics, and so on-it also persists into

postmodernism. One of the traditional assumptions about postmodernism is that the

ascendancy of the fragment is one of its central elements. But postmodernism is also

typified by totalizing gestures, as demonstrated by Frederic Jameson's investment in

the project of cognitive mapping10 or in the more recent turn to the study of

globalization. The presence of this dialectical tension in both modernism and

postmodernism indicates that the networked representation identified by Bordwell and

Ciccaricco and the networked discourses dominating the work of Castells, Hardt and

Negri, Latour, and others signal a residual trace of modernism-a trace inflected to

account for the digital revolution and transformations in globalization, but a trace that

nonetheless draws connective lines between the two periods of intellectual history. In

one sense, we might be able to understand narratives like 60, Crash, Syriana, and Babel

as demonstrating a nostalgia for the public culture that was a key element of American


10 For example, in Postmoderism Jameson writes that the function of cognitive mapping is "to enable a
situational representation of the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable
totality which is the ensemble of society's structures as a whole" (51). The process of cognitive mapping,
whether in criticism, theory, or representation, is the very practice of totalization.









modernism, as I will demonstrate in the coda of the project. In other words, the

persistence of the cultural logic of modernism-the dialectical movement of totality and

the fragment mediated by the figure of the network-is what makes networked

discourses of the postmodern period articulable.

Beyond restoring to the network narrative the generic breadth that it is routinely

denied in recent scholarship, "The Modern American Network Narrative" takes up a

second objective of considering what modernist experiments in networked figuration

signal about American culture of the modern period, and how modernist writers tried to

sort out their complicated milieu. This involves, in part, taking narrative production as a

marker of intellectual history so that we can explore how American moderns' use of the

network as a conceptual tool broadens our understanding of network discourses.

Moreover, it provides us with a new way to engage the important work of the American

modernists. To accept the uninformed position that network narratives are a product of

the late twentieth century amounts to consenting to the foreclosure of a major element

of modernist intellectual production. For if networks are the sole domain of the waning

decades of the twentieth century, we lose out on a rich dynamic that informed much of

the intellectual and aesthetic production of the modern period. In situating networks as

a central dynamic of modernist production, I aim to provide a new lens for scholarly

inquiries of modernist narrative, and to align the way that we think about the moderns

more closely with the way that they were beginning to think about their own world.

The following chapters sketch out a reassessment of the network narrative genre

and consider the moderns' nascent explorations of networked conceptual models

through readings of modernist narratives both canonical and non-canonical, avant-









garde and popular. These chapters do not share any steady development of the

network narrative genre, nor do they have in common any obvious links of influence,

apart from their shared milieu. In fact, it would be fair to wager that these writers would

have found each other's politics and aesthetics detestable. Jean Toomer famously

spurned any form of artistic affiliation, even rejecting association with the Harlem

Renaissance before giving up on the project of creative writing altogether. Herself a

staple in the celebrity press, Anita Loos traveled mostly in Hollywood circles, and her

few sustained ties to the literati involved H.L. Mencken and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Dos

Passos's political enthusiasm during the 1920s and 30s would have made for tension

alongside the ambivalence of Toomer or Nathanael West, to say nothing of the latent

conservativism of Loos. West, an enigmatic persona of nearly continuous self-

fashioning, had several ties to fellow moderns through co-editing the little magazine

Contact and through his visits to the Greenwich Village bohemians, but out of a mix of

shyness and contrarianism he kept mostly to himself. Indeed, a cocktail party putting

these writers into close contact would not be a pleasant affair. In the absence of an

identifiable movement to group these writers together, or any aesthetic or political

commitments shared by their texts, the logic of chapter selection in "The Modern

American Network Narrative" may seem oddly disparate. But the very dispersal of

these texts is instructive, as it reflects the wide range of texts that rely on networked

models across the field of modernist narrative production. In other words, these

chapters map out the constellar quality of networked representation in American

modernism, and the juxtapositions and lacunae created by the incongruities of the









chapter's objects give this project a quality similar to one of modernism's aesthetic

hallmarks, collage.

Chapter 2 studies the formal architecture of Jean Toomer's Cane (1923) as an

experiment in networked organization that presents an allegorical rendering of race in

America. Comprised of some thirteen short stories, fifteen poems, and a longer

segment verging on drama, Cane presents readers with serious interpretative

dilemmas-not the least of which is taxonomy. It is clearly not a novel in any

conventional sense, and the formal diversity of its texts excludes it from being called a

short-story cycle. Yet its title suggests something more coherent than a mere collection

of assorted works, and Toomer expressed reluctance to let the pieces stand alone,

writing of anthologies like The New Negro (1925), "I did not want Cane, which is an

organism, dismembered, torn to bits and scattered about in the pages of anthologies"

(102). Critics have often discussed Cane's textual unity in terms of hybridity, but the

stubborn independence of Toomer's stories and poems defy any attempt to think of

Cane as a sort of textual fusion. Instead, I propose a reading of Cane that allows the

autonomy of these texts and their interdependence-a network narrative made up of the

linking repetition of phrases and figures that bridge Cane's lacunae and transform the

text into an "organism," to use Toomer's descriptor. In substituting the network for

hybridity, I also propose a new reading of Toomer's social poetics that mobilizes the

networked form of Cane as an allegory for the networked situation of race relations in

the United States that stands in stark contrast with visions of race corresponding to the

fused unit of the melting pot.









Turning from the avant-garde to the popular, Chapter 3 focuses on Anita Loos's

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) to consider how it stages public spaces as sites of

radical heterogeneity. Loos's novella was the second-best selling novel of the following

year, and it created a franchising juggernaut that banked on its success. Blondes rode

to success mostly on the back of protagonist Lorelei Lee, known for her inadvertent wit,

her extravagant flapper lifestyle, and the suggestions of her promiscuity. But my focus

here is on Loos's use of the grand hotels that are Lorelei's haunt of choice, and how

these settings foster social networks. Despite the fact that their lodging priced out the

vast majority of the American public, grand hotels had a reputation as public spaces

because their lobbies, bars, parlors, ballrooms, and restaurants were freely accessibly

to any reasonably dressed white person. For this reason, historian A.K. Sandoval-

Strausz frames the hotel as a contact zone: "[H]otels created what might be called a

multiplier effect: because people came to the same hotel spaces for many different

reasons, there was constant crossing and commingling that exposed people to

unexpected individuals and ideas" (261). It is precisely this connective element of the

hotel that Lorelei uses to forge links to people from an array of nationalities and class

positions. Acting as a dominant anchor of social networks that she creates around her,

Lorelei, ever the social climber, paradoxically flattens class hierarchy into a constellar

organization. Perhaps inadvertently, Loos offers a restructuring of the class system that

eschews the atomizing nature of caste in favor of a more entangled, networked vision

akin to a cocktail party-another of Lorelei's, and Loos's, favorite spatial-social sites.

Chapter 4 returns to the study of modernist formal experimentation with an

analysis of John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy (1930-36). Like Cane, U.S.A. defies









traditional literary taxonomy. The trilogy traces the history of the United States from

1900 up until the late 1920s, displacing linear narration in favor of four separate modes

of representation that Dos Passos thought would more accurately communicate the

spirit of the times. This narrational architecture, which Dos Passos referred to as a

"four-way conveyor system," is comprised of four completely independent narrative

mechanisms: "Newsreels" passages that use newspaper copy, advertisements, and

song lyrics to capture the zeitgeist of the period; "Camera Eye" passages that narrate

the lived experience of the period through a stream-of-consciousness rendering of Dos

Passos's own life; biographical sketches that outline the period through portraits of

leading figures like Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Carnegie, and the Wright Brothers; and

fictional narratives that illustrate the period through a matrix of twelve primary

characters experiencing different events and developments of the early 1900s. This

narrative system caused no shortage of consternation among Dos Passos's

contemporaries, and remains a contentious subject in more recent criticism. I think one

way of dealing with Dos Passos's formal experiment is to read it as drawing constellar

links between these autonomous nodes of narration so that they cooperate as a

network of narration-much like the networked organization of Fordist production, which

perhaps played into Dos Passos's referring to the trilogy as a "conveyor system." The

implications of my reading of U.S.A. are that Dos Passos's narrative proposes a

different way of approaching the study of history-one that priorities networked

schemas over linear trajectories.

The final chapter examines representations of crowds and the masses in

Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust (1939). Noted for its climactic scene of a









frenzied crowd creating a riot, Locust is but a part of West's career-long interest in the

signification of crowds. But even within Locust, West's crowds are more diverse than

the apocalyptic gathering of the finale. The rowdiness of these crowds, reflective of the

unruly audiences of the nickelodeon era that loom large in the background of this

Hollywood novel, overshadows the simple facts of the crowd's configuration. Internally

diversified and inclusive, the crowd is designed to assimilate each individual into

relations to the others on a networked principle of organization: no one stands about

the multiplicity of the group. While crowds were a popular subject for West and others

during the modern period because of their association with urbanization and Fascism, I

argue that the crowd's networked organization is another part of its appeal to the

moderns, as it helped them rethink the workings and figuration of democracy.

Moreover, West's interest in crowds is symptomatic of a narrow window of the network

narrative genre that focuses on crowd figuration-so confined to the modern period that

today we might well consider it lost in terms of the genre's turn toward characterological

networks. The relative abandonment of network discourse focusing on the collective

nature of the crowd-reflective of what Hegeman refers to as the moderns' "different

arrangement of social space"-indicates not only an historical difference in the

contemporary network narrative genre of Bordwell's and Ciccaricco's studies, but also a

shortcoming in our networked discourses today that seem largely unable to imagine

collectivity growing out of connectivity.









CHAPTER 2
JEAN TOOMER'S CANE

The journey of Jean Toomer's Cane through the twentieth century is by now well

known. Published in 1923 after having made the rounds in many of the major "little

magazines" of the day, it became a critical success and kindled the creative fires of the

Harlem Renaissance, leading to a reprinting in 1927, after which Cane would be out of

print for some forty years. But while many selections from Cane remained easily

accessible in anthologies-venues with which Toomer frequently had fraught

relationships that I will explore in further detail below-Cane itself slipped in profile until

Arna Bontemps ushered it back into wide circulation in 1969. Since then, it has

reclaimed its canonical position in American literature, and it has been the subject of

numerous book-length works of criticism. And the life of the author was as slippery and

mercurial as the text's passage through the century, as Toomer's letters have provided

a major body of misdirection and misrepresentation bent on autobiographical revision.

But while Cane's publication life is familiar, its precise role in American literary

history is still highly contested. Scholarly treatments of Cane are about as disparate as

the text itself: sometimes focusing on the text's authenticity of voice in representing

African-American communities or the South, sometimes addressing its representations

of gender, sometimes studying its formal innovation, and sometimes seeking the

devices and themes that unify its discrete stories, poems, and prose. I take Cane as a

marker of the cultural logic of modernism, as its formal organization stakes out the

dialectical tensions of homogeneity and dispersal and mediates them with networked

figuration.









Like many works of high modernism, Cane demonstrates paradoxical impulses in

its reliance on formal fragmentation and its insistence on the totalization of its disjointed

components. What is distinctive about Cane's particular strategy of fragmentation is its

integration of divergent forms-the short story, verse, and prose that verges on drama.

These elements are simultaneously autonomous and interdependent, as Toomer links

them together into Cane's project of organization and assembly. In linking these texts

together into an "organism," as he called Cane, Toomer relies on networked figuration,

and in turn uses the network as a conceptual tool to think the meaning of race in the

United States.

Because Cane is renowned as difficult to read and categorize, part of the work of

establishing it as a network narrative will require an examination of the different

methods of reading the text-especially through the lens of its generic classification-

that have been applied to it over the years. While my reading of Cane does not aim to

reconcile all of these scholarly approaches into a consistent tradition of literary criticism,

it will often locate within these different critical vantage points a latent language of

networks-especially in treatments of the text that focus on its elements of collage or try

to reconcile its formal diversification-that reflect the text's own nascent experiment in

networked aesthetics. Establishing Cane's networked organization-both in the

dialectical movement of fragmentation and totalization in its form, and in the circulation

of the eponymous commodity cane throughout its content-enables readers to resolve

some of the text's taxonomic difficulties. But moreover, reading Cane as a network

narrative demonstrates the network's centrality to modernist aesthetics, and the









important work it facilitated in the moderns' rethinking of the dramatically changing

American landscape.

Genre: Short-Story Cycles And Network Narratives

Since its publication, readers have struggled to come to terms with Cane's form

and genre. Composed of thirteen short prose pieces, fifteen poems that include

sonnets, ballads, and work songs, and a longer piece that nods toward the conventions

of drama, Cane's very form presents a number of taxonomic challenges. The dominant

trends today are to treat it as a volume or as a short-story cycle, but for reasons I will

explore below, these formulations are insufficient for the major interventions Cane was

making. Instead, drawing on its integrated system of fragmentation and totalization, I

situate Cane as a network narrative.

While it was received positively upon publication, timid explanations of the strange

assortment of prose and verse prevailed in the reviews. Robert Littell's review for the

New Republic chose to treat Cane's first two sections as a single unit of prose and

verse sketches: "Cane is sharply divided into two parts. The first is a series of

sketches, almost poetic in form and feeling, revolving around a character which

emerges with very different degrees of clarity. The second half is a longish short story,

Kabnis, quite distinct from the sketches, and peculiarly interesting" (32). Paul

Rosenfeld's profile of Toomer in a 1925 encyclopedia of literary figures describes Cane

as a "miscellany" (v). And a chorus of reviewers labeled Cane a "volume," as does a

reviewer for the Dial, who characterized it as "a volume of sketches of negro [sic] life in

the large cities and in the cotton fields" (92). The difficulty contemporary reviewers met

in finding consensus on a method to deal with Cane's complex form marks the

beginning of a long literary history of dissensus on the text's formal dynamics.









The inability to call upon a readymade taxonomy is but one part of the struggle to

identify a genre for Cane, and it has proven a messy issue to sort out since the earliest

treatments of the text. Early reviewers' penchant for discussing Cane as a "volume"

had the practical advantage of recognizing the diversity of texts it comprises, but of

course had the disadvantage of treating Cane's texts as separate, unrelated bodies.

The term "short-story cycle," which tends to settle for many scholars today the

taxonomic difficulties reviewers had upon Cane's publication, was not available for

reviewers to draw on, as it was not even the subject of a book-length work until Forrest

Ingram's Representative Short Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century, published in

1971. Perhaps part of the reason why this label so often sticks to Cane is that the

short-story cycle was such a familiar staple of modern narrative. As I mentioned in the

introduction, many such texts would have prepared readers for the kind of work Toomer

is performs in Cane, and two of that number-Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

(1919), and Waldo Frank's City Block (1922)- were major influences specifically cited

by Toomer. Given the profusion of such texts in American modernism, it would be

convenient to situate Cane as a short-story cycle.

For many readers, Cane may be an intuitive fit as a short-story cycle. But even

sophisticated formulations of the genre that would suffice for the average short-story

cycle have trouble grappling with Cane's distinctive qualities. Ingram, for example,

defines the short-story cycle as "as a book of short stories so linked to each other by

their author that the reader's successive experience on various levels of the pattern of

the whole significantly modifies his experience of each of its component parts" (19)-a

formulation that James Nagel rightly says relies too heavily on the intentional fallacy.









Nagel, in turn, describes the genre as "the collection of a group of independent stories

that contain continuing elements of character, setting, action, imagery, or theme that

enrich each other in intertextual context" (15). J. Gerald Kennedy describes the genre

as a short-story sequence, choosing "sequence" over "cycle" in order "to emphasize its

progressive unfolding and cumulative effects" (vii). Maggie Dunn and Ann Morris label

the genre "the composite novel," which they define as "a literary form that combines the

complexities of a miscellany with the integrative qualities of a novel" (1)-a formulation

that allows for devices other than the short story. As I argued in the introduction, the

short-story cycle is typical of American modernism's complex navigation of the

dialectical movement of fragment and totality, and in fact the mediation of those

polarities through the formal composition of the short-story cycle aligns it with the

properties of the network narrative genre.

The networked aesthetics of the short-story cycle are reflected in the language of

scholarship that delineates its generic parameters. For example, Ingram defines the

short-story-cycle genre as "a set of stories linked to each other in such a way as to

maintain a balance between the individuality of each of the stories and the necessities

of the large unit" (15). Similarly, Susan Garland Mann argues that in the genre, "the

stories are both self-sufficient and interrelated. On the one hand, the stories work

independently of one another: the reader is capable of understanding each of them

without going beyond the limits of the individual story. On the other hand, however, the

stories work together, creating something that could not be achieved in a single story"

(15). Dunn and Morris describe the text's organization as "a tissue of fine connectives"

(13). In each case, the formulation for the short-story cycle takes the shape of a









network: autonomous stories act as nodes comprising the network that holds the text

together as a cooperative unit. In other words, the short-story cycle and the scholarship

that defines it are both inscribed with the cultural logic of modernism, navigating the

dialectical tension of homogeneity and dispersal. Describing the genre in such a

dialectical framework is unsurprising, given the short-story cycle's rise during American

modernism, as that very dialectical tension marks the central cultural logic of

modernism.

Given the networked properties of the short-story cycle and the networked

aesthetics of Cane, one might find ease in fitting Toomer's text under the short-story

cycle's generic umbrella. Indeed, much of the scholarship on the short-story cycle

includes Cane as part of the genre. But Cane is clearly not a short-story cycle. To call

it so is to look for a comfortable taxonomy at the expense of the bulk of the text which,

to put it bluntly, does not consist of short stories. Moreover, to follow Kennedy's

emphasis on sequencing would be to impose a linearity upon the text that precludes a

good deal of its dynamic movement. And while Dunn and Morris's suggestion of the

term "composite" certainly creates flexibility in dealing with Cane's formal diversity, their

reliance on the term "novel" suggests some formal conventions-a concrete plot, a

shared setting, and so on-that Cane does not deliver.

What makes Cane exceptional, what distinguishes it from the short-story cycle is

that it does not offer a unity of setting, nor does it offer a dominant protagonist or even a

unity of characters, nor does it offer a unity of form. Instead, Cane vacillates between

rural Georgia and the urban spheres of Washington, D.C., and Chicago; it spans a set

of characters who, with rare exception, do not interface; and it alternates between









poetry, prose, and a drama-like form. At the same time, Cane is not a collection, not

some portfolio of the artist's greatest hits-which readers understand quickly enough

from Toomer's selection of a title that avoids assortment and aspires to some totalizing

vision. For these reasons, and because the various guises of the short-story cycle-the

short-story sequence and the composite novel included-are insufficient classifications

for Cane, I propose that we read Cane not as a short-story cycle, but as a network

narrative, a designation that will help us understand the complex interrelationships of

Cane's texts, as well as the sophisticated critique it poses for modern American culture.

Positioning Cane as a network narrative that mediates the dialectic of totalization

and fragmentation with constellar figuration helps resolve some of the scholarly tensions

regarding the text's classification, and helps us better understand the text's system of

independent, self-contained pieces that are organized into a unifying whole. To read

Cane in such terms foregrounds the text's interest not in a narrative of fragmentation

and dispersal, but in a narrative of interdependence. That narrative impulse, as I will

detail below, is staked in the text's logic of formal interrelationships of its diverse pieces

of prose and verse, as well as in the networking that takes place in the circulation of

cane itself, and it provides an allegorical foundation for Toomer's thinking of race in the

United States. Cane is an ideal case study in American modernism's development of

network figuration because it relies on its connective tissues to an unparalleled extent,

offering no place, no character, no plot, not even a codifiable form, but only a set of

linking mechanisms to network the text into a whole.

Networks Of Cane

The vast bulk of work on Cane tends to locate two major literary influences on

Toomer's writing, and these are worth surveying to begin to read the networked logic









that governs the text. The first is Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. It is a

commonplace for Cane scholarship and Toomer biographers to point to a letter he

wrote to Anderson in 1922, when he told the venerable short-story writer, "Winesburg,

Ohio and The Triumph of the Egg are elements of my growing. It is hard to think of

myself as maturing without them" [non-italicization sic] (18). The influence of

Anderson's short-story cycles would be easy to recognize in Cane-especially if one

were to think of Cane itself as a short-story cycle out of reluctance to locate another

genre to fit Toomer's text into. And besides the literary exchange between Anderson's

short-story cycles and Toomer's Cane, the relationship between the two men was the

stuff of literary legend. Anderson, famously generous with young writers like Ernest

Hemingway and William Faulkner, had, according to Mark Whalan, "offered to write a

preface for Cane and to help find Toomer a publisher" (6). And perhaps equally famous

was the falling-out between the two writers that took place when Toomer began to

sense that Anderson was essentializing his African-American voice and

representations. Whalan finally characterizes this relationship as a cynical one:

"Toomer needed Anderson because he could bolster his career and help justify the

tremendous energy he was expending on is literary 'neophytism'" (228)-a statement

that may challenge the sincerity of Toomer's oft-quoted genuflection to Anderson.

More recent scholarship has argued for the centrality of Waldo Frank, and

particularly his 1922 short-story cycle City Block, as an influence on Cane. Perhaps

because Frank was a lesser-known figure than Anderson during the heyday of Cane in

the 1970s, his influence on Toomer was harder to recognize, but a simple survey of the

volumes of correspondence between the two men illustrates the depths of the









relationship. Charles Scruggs and Lee VanDemarr's Jean Toomer and the Terrors of

American History explains how Frank, the Pound to Toomer's Eliot, had his fingerprints

all over the manuscripts of Cane: "Frank selected and critiqued pieces, influenced the

ideas and forms for individual stories, suggested at least the theoretical conception for

the book's structure, and edited the text line by line" (109). In 1922, the two traveled

south to Spartanburg, South Carolina together as they researched their work-Toomer

still working on Cane and Frank setting the groundwork for what would be published in

1923 under the title Holiday. In a move that might later have driven a wedge between

them, Frank attempted to pass as black in order to get to the "authentic blackness" he

was trying to observe. And it was Frank, not Anderson, who ultimately provided Toomer

with contacts in the publishing world, advising Toomer about which "little magazines" to

send his poems and short stories to, and setting Toomer up with his own publisher, Boni

and Liveright, which published Cane in the fall of 1923. Despite all the proclamations of

Anderson's role as mentor to Toomer, the stronger influence was likely Frank, who had

a much more hands-on relationship to the conceptualization and production of Cane.

The contrasts between Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Frank's City Block are

informative of the networked logic of Cane. Both are short-story cycles-Winesburg a

set of twenty-five stories set in a fictionalized rural town in Ohio, and City Block a set of

fourteen stories of people living in the same block in New York City. In terms of

aesthetic form, they might bear equal influence on Toomer's construction of a text that

relies on disparate texts that are coordinated in the absence of a unified plot, character,

or even setting. The fundamental difference is that Winesburg thematically insists on

the atomization of its characters, whereas City Block suggests a totalizing vision of its









figures. Both works are populated with characters who feel alone and desperately

isolated, and convincing readings of Winesburg can argue for the interrelationships of

Anderson's characters based on the their common experiences of existential dilemmas

or through the metanarration of George Willard. But it is City Block that makes its own

case for the interconnection of its characters, starting right away with its epigraphic

statement: "The author assures the reader that City Block is a single organism and that

its parts should be read in order....." [non-italicization sic] (6). From the outset, Frank

insists that his stories not be taken as miscellany, but that they be read as part of a

system. Frank's system hinges on the order of sequence, but even that sequential form

allows for interconnections that reach farther than the gaps between adjacent stories,

creating a totalizing network that is superimposed over the base sequence that drives

the reader through the text.

The totalizing vision driving City Block is wrapped up in Frank's embrace of

unanimisme, a literary and theoretical concept belonging to the French poet, novelist,

playwright, and essayist Jules Romains that is central to Toomer's conception of Cane.

Remains detailed unanimisme, a neologism drawing on the French unanime, which

translates as "unanimous," in a 1905 manifesto and again in La Vie Unanime (1908),

where he framed unanimisme as the product of exchanges between material

technology and the social that result in a system of interconnected parts-effectively a

nodal figuration of the network formed by human and technological components.

Randolph Bourne, who along with Frank was part of the group loosely referred to as

"Young America," wrote about unanimisme in an unpublished manuscript, "A

Sociological Poet," where he described it as "the group-life of the city" and praised it for









its denial of the solipsism and isolation of modern life (Scruggs and VanDeMarr 79).

Whalan summarizes unanimisme by saying that Romains "saw modern life as an

harmonious rhythmic system, in which the bodily rhythms of the population and the

rhythms of the mechanized city became synchronized, melding the entire environment

into what he called an holistic 'unanime'" (193). This concept transfers quite handily to

City Block, which culminates in a story about Paolo Benati, a 15-year-old whose psychic

visions have made up the preceding stories. His consciousness acts as facilitator of the

Block's unanimisme, leading him to recognize the "group-life" of the various individuals

living on the Block. Indeed, Scruggs and VanDemarr argue, "Frank saw the whole of

his short-story cycle as depicting the invisible unity and spirit of the characters within the

city block rather than the isolation and separateness of the characters in Winesburg; the

development of City Block was the revelation of an invisible unity, not the growth of an

individual experience like that experienced by Anderson's George Willard" (117-18).

Frank, whom Whalan characterizes as "a good friend of Romains's," had an interest in

unanimisme so widely known that in a January 1924 edition of the little magazine S4N

that was dedicated to studying Frank, two articles assessed his relationship with the

concept (194). And Gorham Munson's 1923 study of Frank's works suggested that City

Block would inaugurate "an American phase of unanimisme" (53).

The adoption of unanimisme in Cane may seem counterintuitive, given that

unanimisme was so rooted in the urban experience for Romains and that the settings in

Cane are predominantly rural. Nonetheless, many readers can find the spirit of

unanimisme guiding Toomer's work, and many of Cane's first reviewers drew precisely

that connection. It was during the summer of 1922 when Toomer read City Block, and









the experience radically altered his conception of Cane, which up to that point he had

been thinking of as a collection of pieces without any integrative force (Scruggs and

VanDeMarr 119). Frank's introduction of unanimisme, generalized beyond the narrow

confines of Romains's theorization, allowed Toomer to link past and present, self and

other, urban and rural, white and black into the networks that comprise Cane. In other

words, unanimisme provided the fundamental logic by which Toomer began to see the

assorted texts of Cane emerging as a network narrative.

But precisely how Toomer draws the unanimisme-inspired networks in Cane is a

messy issue-certainly messier than in City Block, where the connective lines run

directly through the single, centralizing figure of Paolo Benati. The strategies of Cane's

network narration lie in the crossroads of its form and its content, both of which are

famously fragmentary. But like many modernist texts, Cane tries to have it both ways at

the formal level by asserting a host of fragments at the same time that it tries to totalize

them into a unified system, mediating the two polarities with a networked figuration.

This networked design is clear from Toomer's refusals to allow his pieces to appear as

excerpts in anthologies.1 He allowed his pieces to appear in three anthologies of black



1 Close attention to Toomer's language in describing his objections to anthologizing excerpts of Cane
reveals that another factor in those decisions could well have been his longstanding struggles with his
own racial identity. In "This May Be Said/The Inside Story," he writes that he happily granted Countee
Cullen's request to publish some of his poems, but began to turn against the anthologies when he
detected their New Negro agenda: "Soon," he writes, "I began seeing two things I did not like. I did not
like the boosting and trumpeting and the over-play and over-valuation of the Negro, of the products of the
Negro writers, which were springing up. I refused to have any part in this kind of displaying" (102). And
he had serious trepidation about linking his own identity to the agenda of many of the black writers'
anthologies: "I began discovering that the anthologies had preceded me. Not my own book Cane. No,
but few people knew about Cane. Some, though, did know of the collections, and they had formed
pictures and feelings about me based on their impressions of my work and name appearing in these
collections" (103). It is no coincidence that this period, when he was losing his taste for requests to
anthologize pieces from Cane, also corresponds to the period when Toomer began rejecting racial
categorization of himself, refusing racial labels of "white" and "black" and choosing instead to be viewed
as part of the "American race."









writers throughout the 1920s, and a few of Cane's pieces circulated in various

anthologies from 1927 to 1969 as Cane itself was out of print, but he was generally

reluctant to allow the pieces to stand alone. In "This May Be Said/The Inside Story," an

unpublished essay from around 1932, Toomer accuses Alain Locke of printing the short

story "Fern" in the 1925 anthology The New Negro without his consent, and wrote of the

many requests from anthology editors, "I did not want Cane, which is an organism,

dismembered, torn to bits and scattered about in the pages of anthologies" (102). The

tensions between Toomer and these anthology editors underscores the

interdependence he intended to build between the different texts of Cane, and that

system of formal interdependence, as well as the techniques that constitute it, requires

some explication.

One of the primary ways in which Toomer achieves this networked interconnection

of texts is what many scholars refer to, drawing upon visual metaphor, as collage.

Indeed, collage is one of the dominant terms in Cane scholarship, and it is a useful tool

in protecting the text from the dismemberment of the "organism"-note the similarity to

Frank's epigraph, "The author assures the reader that City Block is a single organism

and that its parts should be read in order....."-that so worried Toomer. Collage is, of

course, an umbrella term for many techniques- paper co1, assemblage, decoupage,

photomontage, montage, and so on-that have in common an aesthetic of

fragmentation that creates meanings in the interstices of different images and materials.

The result, writes Jean-Jacques Thomas, is "the establishment of new networks of

significance" (80).









In relying on the networked logic of collage, Cane effectively generates a

unanimisme of form itself. Like Romains's conception of a streetscape as a unified

body comprised of people, the street, shops, cabs, public benches, and so on, Toomer

posits a system of literary forms. Not only does it integrate prose pieces, verse, and a

quasi-dramatic element into its networked system, but also these forms themselves are

often internally unstable. "Beehive," for example, has the surface values of a sonnet-

14 lines with a turn registering between the octave and the sestet, where the focus

changes from the beehive of urban density to the speaker, a drone longing for

freedom-but it rejects any conventional meter or rhyme schemes in favor of free verse:

"Wish that I might fly out past the moon / And curl forever in some far-off farmyard

flower" (Toomer, Cane 50). Some readers might be tempted to view "Beehive" as a

localized illustration of the text's overall hybridity, in its harmonious union of a traditional,

European form like the sonnet with the more modern, American element of free verse.

But instead the poem illustrates the juxtaposition of collage, which rather than hybridity

is the fundamental logic of Cane. The poem's most productive technique is to juxtapose

these two poetic modes-the sonnet and free verse, the traditional and the modern, the

European and the American-to establish its network of significance, one that finds its

locus of meaning somewhere in-between these traditions.

And "Beehive" is but a localized illustration of the principles of collage that guide

the text. The juxtaposition of Cane's various poems and short stories in the first two

segments underscores the networking of the text by establishing text-to-text, node-to-

node relationships that are the ligatures of the text. In other words, these intertextual

relations are the lines by which Cane marks its formal networking schemes. Karintha,









the eponymous subject of Cane's first story, is described as being "as innocently lovely

as a November cotton flower" by a preacher who catches her at mischief, and the

second poem of the text, "November Cotton Flower," develops the flower as figuration

of the first segment's schema of autumnal imagery that laments the passing of the rural

way of life (Toomer, Cane 3, 6). There is no vulgar equation of Karintha to the flower of

the poem, but the repetition of the image creates a line of relation between the short

story and the poem-a relation that has nothing to do with likeness, so much as it

foregrounds the dynamic interplay of texts.

Toomer deploys the same strategy of textual interplay through the figure of the

wayward son. "Song of the Son," the fifth poem and eighth overall piece of Cane,

features a speaker returning to the ancestral land of the South to remember the songs

of slaves, lest he forget "What they were, and what they are to me" (14). The narrator of

"Fern," the short story separated from "Song of the Son" by the poem "Georgia Dusk," is

a similar figure, who observes to himself, "I was from the North and suspected of being

prejudiced and stuck-up" (17). And both Ralph Kabnis and Lewis, of the concluding

quasi-drama "Kabnis," are perceived as outsiders because they have come to Sempter,

Georgia from the North. Again, the repetition of the figure of the wayward son creates

lines of connection across Cane, not to establish a dominant theme for the text, but

simply to underscore the interconnections of its component parts.

The intertextual lines of connection are perhaps most striking in the juxtaposition

of "Portrait in Georgia" and "Blood-Burning Moon," the last two pieces of the first part of

Cane. "Portrait in Georgia" is a free-verse poem that depicts a woman's face in the

language of lynching, describing her hair as "coiled like a lyncher's rope" and her body









as "white as the ash / of black flesh after flame" (Toomer, Cane 29). This is the first

reference to racial violence in Cane, and it is immediately followed by a deeper

exploration of that theme, as "Blood-Burning Moon" concludes with the grisly lynching of

Tom Burwell by a mob of "white men like ants" (Toomer, Cane 35). The introduction of

the language of lynching, followed by its direct representation, does not pair "Portrait in

Georgia" and "Blood-Burning Moon" in some sort of thematic likeness, but again

demonstrates the logic of connection between Cane's dynamic texts.

Critics often describe these interstitial, intertextual sites of meaning-production as

lacunae-the argument being that there is a purposeful gap in the text, say, between

the lynching thematics of "Portrait in Georgia" and "Blood-Burning Moon." The

meanings created in these interstices can of course vary according to the subject and

the arrangement of the texts that span the gap. In the case of the pair of lynching

pieces, the intervening lacuna could signify something like the unspeakability of the

atrocity-a hushed reluctance to narrate the event that later falls over Ralph Kabnis as

his cohorts Fred Halsey and Professor Layman discuss local iterations of racial violence

in the third section, "Kabnis". What is equally important to observe about these lacunae,

however, is how they shape a spatial organization of Cane. By inscribing these open

spaces between pieces, Toomer reinforces the spatial figuration of the network in

Cane's very form. The space of Cane, with its individual pieces connected together,

sometimes across wide gaps, is precisely that of the network, which is defined just as

much by its nodal interconnections as it is by the vast gaps spanned by the nodes'

relational lines. The spatial nature of Cane's network again raises the similarity to the









visual form of collage, which deploys lacunae in-between juxtaposed images to stretch

out the relationships of incongruous images across the field of vision.

While collage defines Cane's formal strategy of networking, there remains a good

deal of networking material in the content of Toomer's stories and poems. The first part

of Cane establishes characterological networks of three figures: King Barlo, Old David

Georgia, and an anonymous woman. Barlo appears as a traveling companion of the

narrator in "Becky," he is the object of young Esther's desire in "Esther," and he is the

subject of one of Tom Burwell's passing remarks in "Blood-Burning Moon." Old David

Georgia is named as one of the townspeople who support the exiled woman in "Becky,"

and he reappears a gossipmonger around the cane processing stoves in "Blood-

Burning Moon." Similarly, an unnamed woman is the subject of brief discussion in

"Fern" and in "Esther" for having drawn the Madonna on a courthouse wall. In each

case, a series of appearances suggests a six-degrees network of the social landscape

in part one, which is all we have to establish the connective logic of that section since its

setting is not continuous across the various texts. But this mode of network narration

cannot hold the entire text of Cane together, because there is no overlap of characters

between the rural setting of part one and the urban milieu that follows in part two.

The second segment, absent any kind of knowable community in the urban

settings of Washington, D.C. and Chicago, focuses more on the material, technological

mediations that facilitate social networks. "Her Lips Are Copper Wire," for example, is a

free-verse poem depicting a technologically mediated romance wherein the woman on

the other end of the phone line is part love interest and part personified mechanization:

her body is the technology that conveys her voice. While her lips double as the "copper









wire" of the phone line itself, she becomes a cyborg-like figure in the closing lines: "then

with your tongue remove the tape / and press your lips to mine / till they are

incandescent" (Toomer, Cane 57). She must "remove the tape"-presumably electrical

tape-that binds her wire-lips in order to embrace the speaker and electrify him, too,

with a kiss. Toomer imbues this fundamental human interaction with a quite literal

charge of electricity, drawing both the woman and the speaker into an exchange that is

simultaneously romantic and technological. The reliance on technological mediations of

social networks in the second part of Cane should come as no surprise, given that

Remains' theories of unanimisme were largely focused on the exchanges between

people and technologies that he found to be inherent to urban life.

"Kabnis," the third and final part of Cane, argues for an historical mode of

networking that links Father John, the deaf-mute whose experience bears witness to the

days of slavery, to the young generation of Ralph Kabnis, who himself is deaf to Father

John's testimony. Father John testifies, "O th sin th white folks 'mitted when they made

the Bible lie," but Kabnis, having already taunted the old man repeatedly, only glares

back at him with a look described as "contemptuous" (117). The generational

disjuncture is obvious, but what is most noteworthy about this exchange is how Toomer

poses a challenge to readers to recognize this trans-generational network where Kabnis

fails to see it.

The most crucial element of content networking, however, is cane itself. Cane is

not just a mere image that repeats in all three parts of the text, as images of dusk and

autumn repeat in the first part of the text and underline points of similarity in that

segment's narrative of decline. Instead, it is more productive to think of cane as a









commodity that circulates in the text. Charting the flow of a particular commodity is a

means of sketching the lines of a network. One might take as an example the flow of

wheat in Frank Norris's Epic of the Wheat, wherein the transmission of this crop links

the struggling farmers of southern California to each other in The Octopus (1901),

connects the farmers to the Chicagoan stock traders and speculators of The Pit (1903),

and draws the farmers and speculators into connection with starving wheat consumers

of Europe in the planned but unwritten finale to the trilogy, The Wolf. Through the

circulation of wheat, Norris sketches networked lines of connection between southern

California, Chicago, and Europe, demonstrating the interdependence of individual

characters who have never met but who share a concrete interest in wheat, which is the

material mediation of their network. The connective commodity does not, of course,

have to be a crop, but Norris's epic handily demonstrates the principle of this means of

narrating the material substance of the network. And in the case of Cane, as we will

see, the choice of cane as the material agent of interconnection carries heavy symbolic

import.

In each of its appearances, cane offers Toomer a slightly different signification,

and a study of these uses of cane, though exhaustive and perhaps tedious, will

demonstrate how Toomer's use of this commodity charts a networked path across the

text. When cataloguing each occurrence of cane in the text, one notices that its uses

can be loosely categorized according to the section of the text in which it appears. In

other words, each section of the text has a general schema of cane signification that

typifies the section. Accordingly the sectional uses of cane draw networks for each









discrete section of the text, and its circulation across all three sections draws a network

for the whole of Cane.

In the first section, which of all the sections offers the most textual occurrences of

cane, the commodity acts as a place-specific image, figuring themes of work and

proximate community. Cane first appears in "Becky," the story of a white woman

literally marginalized from town for having and raising two black sons, where cane is

one of the offerings brought to Becky by the townspeople who support her in exile. "Old

David Georgia, grinding cane and boiling syrup, never went her way without some sugar

sap," the narrator observes (Toomer, Cane 8). In its first use, cane acts as a

commodity that maintains Becky's relational lines to her estranged community. In

"Carma," the story of the woman who fakes her suicide in order to deceive her lover,

cane is a figure of portent in the story's epigraphic poem: "Wind is in the cane. Come

along. / Cane leaves swaying, rusty with talk, / Scratching choruses above the guinea's

squawk, / Wind is in the cane. Come along" (Toomer, Cane 12). In the ballad "Georgia

Dusk," cane figures the synchrony of man and agriculture with images such as the

"cane-lipped throng" that inscribe cane onto the very faces of the workers, as well as in

the singing of cane that rises above the fields: "Their voices rise the chorus of cane"

(Toomer, Cane 15). In "Fern" and "Blood-Burning Moon," the canebrakes offer a place

of concealment for sexual rendezvous between the narrator and Fern and between

Louisa and Tom Burwell (Toomer, Cane 19, 30). In the free-verse poem "Portrait in

Georgia," it is the one image of beauty to counterbalance the atrocious language of

lynching used to describe the woman's appearance: "Breath-the last sweet scent of

cane" (Toomer, Cane 29). In addition to its place as sexual rendezvous for Louisa and









Tom Burwell, cane has two appearances in "Blood-Burning Moon": we see it being

processed by Old David Georgia in the text's only scene of cane-related labor, and it is

onto this scene that Bob Stone stumbles to learn of Louisa's indiscretions with Tom

(Toomer, Cane 31, 34). The metaphorics of cane can be manifold, evocative of

sweetness, fecundity, sexuality, and even violence. In addition to these, I read cane as

a metaphorical device that roots these characters in their rural community, the

agricultural labor that sustains it, and the system of labor exploitation evoked by both.

The second section, set in the urban milieus of Washington, D.C. and Chicago

deploys cane as a figure of nostalgia for an imagined, idealized community of the South.

In "Theater," Dorris uses the scent of cane to mark herself as "down home" in the hopes

of attracting John: "Of old flowers, or of a southern canefield, her perfume" (Toomer,

Cane 55). In "Calling Jesus," it is a substance of comfort to the wayward woman of the

sketch, who winds up "cradled in dream-fluted cane" (Toomer, Cane 58). In "Box Seat,"

cane is a marker of class, as down-and-out Dan is quick to note, "I was born in a

canefield" (Toomer, Cane 59). It appears in the Whitmanian free-verse poem "Harvest

Song" where the speaker, a reaper whose repetitious "hunger" marks a desire for the

simplicity of an agrarian past, remarks, "It would be good to hear their songs .. reapers

of the sweet-stalk'd / cane, cutters of the corn .. even though their throats cracked and

the strangeness of their voices deafened me" (Toomer, Cane 71). Finally, in "Bona and

Paul," cane acts for Paul as an image of an imaginary and idealized Southern

community:

Paul follows the sun to a pine-matted hillock in Georgia. He sees the
slanting roofs of gray unpainted cabins tinted lavender. A Negress chants a
lullaby beneath the mate-eyes of a southern planter. Her breasts are ample
for the sucking of a song. She weans it, and sends it, curiously weaving,









among lush melodies of cane and corn. Paul follows the sun into himself
and Chicago. (Toomer, Cane 73)

In the appearances of cane in the second section, there is a nostalgic look toward the

community and ways of living from the rural south that characterize the first part of

Cane. At the same time, the metaphorics of cane in this narrative of nostalgia and

collective memory may well distort the very community it looks back to, for the nostalgia

for cane in this section relies precisely on forgetting its context of oppressive agricultural

labor and the violence that accompanied it during slavery and the era of share-cropping.

It is only as a sanitized commodity that cane can perform this nostalgic function.

For "Kabnis," the third section set in the small town of Sempter, Georgia, Toomer

attributes to cane a vocal quality. Its vocalization first appears in contrast to Professor

Layman: "Layman's voice is uniformly low and soothing. A canebrake, murmuring the

tale to its neighbor-road would be more passionate" (Toomer, Cane 92). And shortly

thereafter, Toomer reinforces cane's vocal capacities: "The countryside is ashen, chill.

Cabins and roads and canebrakes whisper" (Toomer, Cane 93). As Kabnis flees what

he presumes to be a lynch mob, cane flanks his path, becoming an image of

oppression: "A splotchy figure [Kabnis] drives forward along the cane- and corn-stalk

hemmed-in road" (Toomer, Cane 93). And in its final appearance, cane is again

vocalized, this time in the service of night's songs: "Night throbs a womb-song to the

South. Cane- and cotton-fields, pine forests, cypress swamps, sawmills, and factories

are fecund at her touch. Night's womb-song sets them singing" (Toomer, Cane 105).

Murmuring, whispering, and singing, cane's ability to speak deepens the importance of

the community dynamics it underscores in the first two sections, because here its









vocalization means that it can bear testimony to the history that it has emerged around

it.

That cane helps solidify a narrative for each discrete section of the text

demonstrates its networking effect at the sectional level. To read the trajectory of cane

across these sections-as a marker of community, as nostalgia for a disappearing

community, as vocalization of the history of a community-shows how its circulation

throughout the text crafts a narrative for Cane. Indeed, the network of cane narrates the

decline of one way of life, the rise of another, and the testimony of that passage of

history. It is a common enough reading of Cane to say that it laments the passing of

rural Southern communities and customs, but to demonstrate that narrative being

performed in the various appearances of cane demonstrates that the circulation of this

commodity, too, undertakes that narrative with a decidedly networked technique.

But even aside from this particular narrative of cane's networks, in the diversity of

these examples cane becomes a material networking agent that links the people,

places, and practices of the text by its very circulation-much like the circulation of

tobacco, for example, offers scholars of transatlanticism an entry-point to mapping the

networks of the triangle trade. In fact, Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power (1986)

studies networks of sugar production and consumption in staging his argument that the

circulation of sugar is a central development in the history of modernity. In Cane, the

eponymous commodity circulates in such a way that it draws relational lines between

some of the elements of the text that are the hardest for readers to assemble,

complementing the text's formal networking scheme with a network that operates at the

level of content. Cane crosses boundaries of form, appearing in Toomer's short stories,









verse, and the drama-novella "Kabnis." It traverses the limits of the urban and the rural,

found in rural Georgia, in Washington, D.C., in Chicago, and in the small town of

Sempter. It is, in short, the material that is held in common throughout the text, and its

very presence sketches networked lines to connect the text's diasporic forms,

characters, and spaces.

Toomer's circulation of cane is perhaps less sweeping than Mintz's, which lays

cornerstones for capitalism, industry, and consumptive habits, but it marks a materially

mediated network nonetheless. And precisely the material nature of this networking

strategy demonstrates part of Toomer's debt to Romains. Remains' unanimisme is a

system comprised of exchanges between material technology and human subjects that

placed subject and object into a node-network organization. Rosalind Williams

describes the fundamental materiality of Romains's networks:

While the technologies of production are nearly absent from Romains's
work, he is fascinated by the new ways of living and feeling he saw
developing along with new systems of communication and transportation.
The dominant technological presence in unanimiste poetry is the subtle
pattern of city vehicles weaving an ever-changing yet predictable network.
(179).

Toomer's networking device is far less new and technological than Romains's reliance

on bridges, trains, automobiles, and barges, but he shares Romains's focus on a

materiality that brings people, commodities, and place into a networked system.

The networks of cane clearly operate in the spirit of "group-life," as Bourne

described Romains's formulation of unanimisme. But cane is, of course, not an

arbitrary choice of commodity for Toomer to circulate throughout the text. The symbolic

import of cane begins to register already on the title page, in these epigraphic lines of

verse: "Oracular. / Redolent of fermenting syrup, / Purple of the dusk, / Deep-rooted









cane" (Toomer, Cane iii). A close reading of these lines reveals that cane is not only a

material networking device, but also a figuration of tradition-which in turn acts as the

ligaments of a network that connects generations. The cane is "oracular" not because it

carries any prophetic or predictive qualities, but because it speaks-establishing the

trope of vocalizing cane that recurs throughout "Kabnis"-and therefore can bear

testimony to the passage of history. That it is "deep-rooted" suggests that cane is not

only embedded in the soil, but also in African-American history itself, via the toil of

slavery and sharecropping and also in the circulation of a commodity that was vital to

the founding of the nation. Cane, then, performs two networking functions: it is the

ligament that connects forms, characters, and places in the text, but it also acts as a

group-specific networking device that draws relational lines across African-American

generations. Thus the "group-life" of Toomer's unanimisme takes a double form in

cane, at once inscribing a network of interconnections that constitutes a "group-life" of

the text, and at the same time acting as the ligaments of the "group-life" that is group

identity. It is with this signification of cane in mind that we can turn to an examination of

the politics of Cane's networks of form and content.

Jean Toomer's Networked America

Toomer's ambivalence toward the politics of racial identity is well known. Shortly

after publishing Cane, Toomer rather famously began denying racial identification in

terms of black and white and instead took to identifying his race as "American." This

project to generically "Americanize" and strip racial affiliation not only from his identity

but also from his works played a large part in the essays and autobiographical writings

that followed Cane, and for that reason some readings of Cane will try to locate that

upbraiding of racial politics in the text. But as Scruggs and VanDemarr have shown,









Toomer's post-Cane writings mark a shaky historical record that is bent on biographical

revision and self-fashioning. This revisionism is particularly evident in the suppression

of his leftist leanings in the late 1910s and early 1920s, they argue, and also in the

muting of the racial politics he was engaged in as he was writing Cane. "Toomer's

identity as an African-American writer was perhaps strongest in 1919-22," they write,

"judging not only from Cane but from his Call essays, his association with the

Washington, D.C., circle of Alain Locke, his decision to travel to Sparta, Georgia, and

his correspondence with both black and white friends" (Scruggs and VanDemarr 83).

Given this window of racial identification, it is imperative to read Cane as invested in

group identity-a project expressed in the "group-life" that is at the heart of unanimisme.

To read Toomer's investment in group identity alongside Cane's networked form and

content is to propose a fundamental reconsideration of the author's race politics and his

vision of the nation. Considering Cane as a network narrative not only bears out the

central role of the figure of the network in American modernism, but it also

demonstrates how American moderns relied on the network as a conceptual tool to

rethink their changing milieu-and in Toomer's case, the dynamics of race in America.

A great deal of recent scholarship characterizes those conceptions of race as built

around hybridity and biracialism. In large part, those readings comport with Toomer's

post-Cane "American" racial identification, but they also stem from allegorical readings

of Cane's form. Taking Cane as a fusion of its component texts, such readings project

hybridity as the model for Toomer's understanding of the racial dynamics of modern

American culture. Joel Peckham, for example, nods to textual hybridity when he writes,

"In Cane, Toomer attempts to enact a disruption of social boundaries through literary









form by exploding the genre borders of fiction, lyric poetry, and drama. By forcibly

bringing together the disparate elements of the text, Toomer exposes false dichotomies

and separations that are both literary and social" (275). And Whalan argues that Cane

is "a text structurally and thematically committed to hybridity"-a claim that he supports

with a reading of the text's gaps: "Cane attempts to take the position of what George

Hutchinson has called a 'biracial' text-a text that is both white and black, with a

correspondingly 'biracial' audience-that makes its gaps and silences so much more

pronounced, and so much more structurally central, than most other works produced in

the period" (209, 216). These efforts from Peckham and Whalan-and, for that matter,

Hutchinson-again demonstrate the difficulty scholars have met with treating Cane's

formal complexities and for interpreting their ramifications for the text's social critiques.

Moreover, in their figurations of hybridity and fusion, this scholarship also represents

one side of the powerful dialectical tension of modernism-the pull toward

homogenization-that typified the period and that Toomer was certainly writing against.

But arguments for Cane's textual fusion simply do not obtain, as I have tried to

demonstrate. Karen Jackson Ford, in her book that reprioritizes the role of poetry in

Cane, argues against the hybridity of the text: "In fact, the argument of Cane resides in

the contrast of genres rather than in their combination," she writes, adding that

"notwithstanding excellent recent scholarship on Cane that explores its efforts to break

out of the fiercely inadequate binarisms of American racial discourse, I argue that

Cane's generic multiplicity amounts not to formal hybridity but to formal essentialism"

(13, 17). The formal politics of Cane certainly do reject traditional binarisms of

American discourses on race-not with a hybrid refusal of binaries, but with a constellar









model that widens the field of discussion. Accordingly, we should replace the figuration

of hybridity with that of the network to understand Toomer's theorization of race.

Readings of Cane very often follow this logic: that the form-whether one reads it

as a binary relation of prose and verse, a hybrid unity of different texts, and so on-

stands in allegorically for Toomer's views on race. Ford's rejection of the hybridity

model, then, offers a crucial pivot to draw upon in reformulating the text's formal-racial

aesthetics-politics. If in fact the dominant aesthetic model in Cane is the network

instead of the hybrid-what Ford calls the text's "generic multiplicity"-and if we can

extrapolate that formal networking to a theorization of race, we arrive at a major

intervention for how the text conceives of race and nation. We do not have to follow

Ford to her conclusion of "formal essentialism," which, extrapolated to race, would carry

the infelicitous tag of essentialism-as if Toomer's vision of race were predicated on

some kind of stability of racial identity and the inevitability of racial conflict. Rather,

rendering American race relations in the parameters of "generic multiplicity," in other

words as a network, allows the text to offer a nuanced vision of American race relations

that operates at two levels.

First, if we read Cane's "generic multiplicity" as an allegorical statement on race,

then the network becomes a figure for all of the United States's racial and ethnic

diversity that negotiates the central dialectic of modernism: that between homogeneity

and dispersal. This reading is staked more on the allegorical level of form than on the

level of plot and character, though we can still see such a racial interdependence in the

story of Becky, "the white woman who had two Negro sons" and who, though exiled by

both white and black communities, is clandestinely supported by both communities-to









name just one example of a localized reading of racial interdependence in the text.

Drawing from the text's formal schemes of interdependence, a networked configuration

of races offers many significant re-conceptualizations of the possibilities for American

culture. A model of decentralization, the network disperses whites' hegemonic power

across the racial spectrum of the nation. This of course does not change the reality of

juridical or economic inequalities of the races, but it does offer a utopian model to strive

toward. Most importantly, the network model radically challenges the mode of

interaction between the races-especially compared to the hybridity model to which

many readers of Cane subscribe. Instead of the hybridity model's dubious analogue of

racial fusion, the network offers a model of interdependence-one that allows for the

tradition of group identity, but demands the cooperation of discrete racial and ethnic

traditions in the "group-life" of the nation. Such a model of interconnection and

interdependence makes the network an attractive figure by which Cane can resolve the

many cultural and racial tensions of the nation-and especially the abundance of those

tensions in the Jim Crow South.

Second, the networked figuration also operates as a model for the relationship of

the individual to the whole. Cane's networked theorization of race honors Toomer's

ostensibly contradictory investments in individualism and group identity. Whalan

characterizes Toomer's letters as demonstrating a commitment "to individualism as

inherent to an archetypally American identity" (4)-an apt description of Toomer, who so

often chafed at group classifications. But that impulse, set alongside his intense interest

in race politics during the writing of Cane, creates a node-network relationship that is of

course the basic structure of the text itself. Just as in the network's figural resolution of









racial and cultural conflicts, the network offers a model to preserve individuality while

recognizing the collective project of the "group-life."

Toomer's use of the network as a model for conceiving of the nation and its culture

and of the individual's relation to both again demonstrates Toomer's association with

the project of the Young America thinkers. Casey Nelson Blake characterizes that

project as "a communitarian vision of self-realization through participation in a

democratic culture" (2). And as we have seen, a large part of that work relied on

networked figurations. Randolph Bourne and Waldo Frank took up Romains's model of

unanimisme as one means of thinking such a "democratic culture," and their interest in

Remains marks but one facet of their attraction to network figuration. Bourne's 1916

essay "Trans-National America" drew upon the figure of the network as he tried to

reconceive of the nation as a "federation of cultures" that would allow the U.S. to

become a "cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cultures, from whom

the devastating sting of competition has been removed" (115, 117)-a theorization that

bears deep likeness to Cane's networked theorization of the interdependence of races.

Frank deployed the networked dynamics of unanimisme as the model for City Block, but

he also drew on the network in Our America (1919) to illustrate the enmeshed nature of

the cultural constituencies of the U.S.-offering an equal claim to "American culture" for

Puritan New England, the American Southwest, industrial Chicago, and so on. And so

the influence of Romains's unanimisme was but one strain of the network thinking being

performed by the Young Americans.

With these Young America forebears in mind, it is not surprising that Toomer

would turn to a networked figuration to think the race relations of the nation. That Cane









sets about approaching that goal with such a wide array of networking devices-both in

the text's form and in its content-demonstrates the central dialectical tension of

modernism, and shows how American modernists used networked figuration to mediate

the dialectical tensions of homogeneity and dispersal, and shows how they could use

the network as a model to think some of the most foundational conditions of the nation's

social organization. In the case of Cane, the network provided the model by which

Toomer could theorize a paradigm for a new mode American community-one that

negotiates the homogenizing impulse of assimilation and the opposite impulse toward

an outright dispersal of racial and ethnic enclaves. And here the text's modes of

networking demonstrate the distinctly modern crossroads of politics and form-indeed,

demonstrates the politics of form-as Cane's formal strategies to negotiate the

tendencies toward totalization and dispersal act not only as an aesthetic principle, but

as a theorization of the nation.









CHAPTER 3
ANITA LOOS'S GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES


Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was never intended as anything more

than a popular entertainment. Originally serialized in Harper's Bazar,1 its first printing as

a book in late 1925 sold out overnight, and Blondes eventually rang in second among

the best-selling novels in the U.S. in 1926 (Carey 95, Churchwell 158). Loos also

capitalized on Blondes's franchising potential with dress materials, comic strips, a song

by Irving Berlin, and even wall paper themed around her popular book (Loos, "Musical"

59). And the text itself was subject to franchising impulses. In 1926, Loos adapted

Blondes into a short-lived play that failed after little more than a month and garners

almost no mention in scholarship on Loos or in her biography. Malcolm St. Clair's 1928

film adaptation of Blondes, starring Ruth Taylor, is now completely lost, a casualty of the

transition to talkies that survives only in the sketchy synopsis drawn by an anonymous

theater musician (Thompson xxi).2 A musical production starring Carol Channing that in

1949 began a 90-week run and a tour lasting another year revived the novel's

enormous popularity and at the same time reinscribed it, substituting the 1950s

bombshell for the 1920s flapper and a traditional romance for the original text's cynical

view of sexual relationships. That reinscription was adopted by Howard Hawks's 1953

film, starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, that has cemented the popularity of the

Blondes franchise.


1 Daniel Tracy reminds us that "the magazine's title was spelled with only one 'a' until 1929" (139 n. 1).
2 In Lost Films, Frank Thompson writes, "The last days of the silent era were tragic for so many motion
pictures. Hastily released to the last theaters not wired for sound, many late silents had terribly short
lives. In small towns, silent films flourished well into the thirties, but for the big markets like Los Angeles,
Chicago, and New York, sound films were a fact of life by 1928. It is a bitter irony that the years that
arguably represent the pinnacle of the art of the silent cinema have been so ravaged by loss" (xix).









The intense popularity of Blondes mirrors Loos's own celebrity stature. Her

primary vocation was screenwriting, and her long career tallied some 152 screen

credits-a figure that does not account for the innumerable projects on which she

collaborated and consulted. Biographer Gary Carey writes that unlike many of her

modernist peers she "didn't think screenwriting beneath her" and "enjoyed writing for

star personalities" like Joan Crawford (150). Aside from Blondes and its sequel, But

Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1928), Loos's writings were limited to the occasional

magazine column and a handful of Hollywood memoirs. As a successful screenwriter

and authoress of a bestselling novel, Loos was a staple of the celebrity press, and was

for a long time a person of interest in Vanity Fair. With each return to the Blondes

franchise, her celebrity was rekindled such that when she died in 1981 the battle over

her estate was the stuff of celebrity gossip (Carey 314-15). Even in Blondes's reception

by the modernist literati-letters of appreciation from James Joyce, William Faulkner,

Aldous Huxley, and Edith Wharton are routinely observed in Blondes scholarship-an

awareness of Loos's celebrity is often present, with the letters sometimes even

bordering on mash notes gushing over her celebrity status.3

Yet like specimens of a number of other American popular American forms

including jazz, comic strips, and Hollywood film, Loos's popular entertainment has been

increasingly identified with literary modernism. Some of this is due to the obviously

experimental nature of its use of narrative voice and perspective, and some to its sexual

politics. But for my purposes, renewed attention to Anita Loos can help recover some of

the moderns' strategies of networked representation-particularly those operating in

3 As biographer Gary Carey notes, after he first met Loos, Huxley would write to his brother that "'Miss
Loos was ravishing. One would like to keep her for a pet'" (189).









popular modernism. Blondes deals with the public spaces that were themselves

constitutive of popular modernism. In staging a tension between public and private

spaces, Blondes refigures the modernist dialectic of centralization and dispersal, with

the public figuring the gravitational pull of social concentration and the private figuring

the atomizing impulse of the private domesticity.

The relatively scant scholarship on Blondes tends to focus on feminist criticism,

and with good reason: in dealing with sexuality and gendered work and anchoring itself

around two remarkably independent women, the text easily lends itself to feminist

readings. To complement that tradition of criticism, I want to explore Blondes's use of

public spaces that undermine the hierarchies of social class and the gendered norms of

public and private spheres. It would be easy enough to see Lorelei Lee as a sort of

Frankenstein's monster unleashed upon the elites of the Social Register, as Regina

Barreca suggests in her introduction to the 1998 edition of the text. But the upheaval of

social class and traditional gender norms is not the work of an isolated, rogue actor.

Instead, Loos unsettles these social institutions by privileging a flattened, networked

representation of the social, staged in large part in the contact zone of the hotel.

Through Lorelei's adventures in these contact zones, Loos rethinks the American class

system and women's roles in the public sphere, and provides one case study in the

moderns' use of the network as a conceptual tool for thinking American culture.

All The World's A Ritz

Immediate responses to Blondes were intent on debating the text's merits and

setting the standards for its eventual canonical evaluation. Probably because the

Lorelei stories garnered such attention in Harper's circulation, reviews of the novels

tended to be short, taking for granted readers' familiarity with at least the contours of the









characters and plot. This meant that the reviews did little more than observe the novel's

publication and plot, avoiding any substantive discussion of the novel's stakes-

perhaps an artful dodge on behalf of the reviewers, who may have been wary of

addressing the text's scandalously sexual subtexts. A reviewer for the Boston Evening

Transcript took the common tack of praising the book's humor and wit, with a vague

remark on gendered reception perhaps nodding toward the saltier notes of the text: "It

is rarely and sidesplittingly delightful: it is the kind of sly, sophisticated spontaneity that

will make any man and most women roar with laughter not once but fifty times" (Rev. 8).

P.C. Kennedy was mostly content to rest his praise on imitation of Loos's sly style:

I mean it is very difficult for gentlemen like I to review a book like
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I mean it is quite true that gentlemen do prefer
blondes. So I mean gentlemen like I are just the same as other gentlemen,
and would like to go shopping with blondes, but it seems as if blondes
would rather go shopping with gentlemen who have got money than go
shopping with gentlemen like I who have got brains. So I mean it seems as
if there was a limit to almost everything. (142)

H.L. Mencken's review is notable in that he provided the material for Loos's first Lorelei

story-at least according to Loos's rather unreliable autobiographical statements-and

that his disdain for middle America colors the entire text. Carey even describes Loos as

"a confirmed Menckenite" (86). Mencken sarcastically describes the text as a

corrective: "It is farce-but farce full of shrewd observation and devastating irony. I

commend it to rural Christians who would get an accurate view of life in New York in

these gaudy days of moral endeavor" (Mencken 127). The reviews tend to observe

Loos's comical use of malapropisms, misspellings, and poor grammar that undermine

Lorelei's character, the self-fashioning nature of the protagonist, and the gold-digging

element of the plot.









While reviewers were quick to frame Blondes as a satire and occasionally hinted

at the sexual economy of the text, the object of Loos's satire was rather avoided. The

general consensus of critics like Lucie Arbuthnot and Gail Seneca, Barreca, Susan

Hegeman, and Maureen Turim is that the meat of the Blondes franchise-the novel

paired with its film progeny-lies in the sexual freedom of Lorelei and her companion

Dorothy, and in the havoc wreaked by the pair as they make conquests of men and

countries alike. Written in the form of Lorelei's diary, Blondes foregrounds the sly

manipulations of the aspiring authoress as she angles for material gain-and leaves

readers to guess at whatever it is she does on her end of the bargain. According to

Lorelei's worldview, "kissing your hand may make you feel very very good but a

diamond and safire bracelet lasts forever" (Loos, Blondes 55). Her clear-eyed, parodic

depiction of traditional marital contract relations-the exchange of sex for material

security-is at the center off all of Lorelei's relationships and much of her conflict with

Dorothy, whose primary interest in men, Lorelei suspects, has little to do with their

pocketbooks. Moreover, as Barreca notes, "Lorelei transforms those elements most

feared by most women of her day-independence, sexual attractiveness, male

attention, a life uncluttered by family ties-into what she desires; in other words, she

turns everything that could possibly intimidate her into something that will aid her" (xviii).

In other words, her defining characteristic is her refusal to be confined to private

domestic roles, and her adventures in the public sphere celebrate an independence

many women of the period would find daunting. Given its focus on sexual politics and

the centrality of its same-sex friendship, Blondes is understandably a magnet for

feminist criticism.









But Lorelei and Dorothy are not content to wreak havoc only upon sentimental

sexuality and the traditional gender roles of heterosexual relationships. They are also

equally set on wreaking havoc upon social class. The upheaval of social class is in part

evident in the plot's narrative of social ascension: in Lorelei's repeatedly stated interest

in entering the lofty ranks of the Social Register, in her pervasive anxiety over middle-

class strategies of improvement, and in her calculated accumulation of material capital

and Dorothy's pursuit of cultural capital-what Barreca refers to as "the socially

disruptive nature of Loos's characters" (xiv). But an equally important part of Blondes's

disruption of the class system is Lorelei's and Dorothy's constant befriending of service

workers, and their social planning that stages contact zones for the refined elites and

the salty members of the working and middle classes-a paradox of ascension and

flattening that that I will address later. These contact zones are more than comic

sequences to display Loos's wit and humor by lampooning the social faux pas that

ensue when classes meet. Instead, they are indicative of the text's networked

relationship of classes. And to fully understand the operation of these contact zones,

we need to reflect on the symbolic import of hotels in turn-of-the-century American

culture.

The Ritz, for Lorelei, stands as the embodiment of prestige and wealth, and it is

the setting for many of her exploits in the U.S. and throughout her Grand Tour. Lorelei

even establishes her own social advancement with a casual reference to the Ritz in the

text's very first sentence: "A gentlemen friend and I were dining at the Ritz last evening

and he said that if I took a pencil and a paper and put down all of my thoughts it would

make a book" (Loos, Blondes 3). But the Ritz of course was also a benchmark of









broader signification. Turn-of-the-century art critic Bernard Berenson coined the term

"Ritzonia" in reference to the famously luxurious chain of hotels, and the term captures

the allure that the Ritz franchise had during the 1920s, standing for many-especially

writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, who fawned over the bar at Paris's Ritz during

their days on the Left Bank-as the epitome of high living during the carefree Roaring

20s (Montgomery-Massingberd 147, 153). But Loos's use of the Ritz was more than a

topical marker of the day's excesses. Lorelei's constant invocation of the Ritz draws on

the figural power of the grand hotel-also referred to as the palace or imperial hotel-

that dates back to the Gilded Age, and on the distinctly democratized formation of the

hotel that dates back to the earliest days of the republic.

It is easy to forget, given the atomizing nature of the motor hotel and the faster

paces of business travel and tourism that prevail today, that until the middle of the

1900s the hotel was widely considered a public space4-even in the case of wildly

decadent, inaccessible institutions like the Ritz franchises or the Waldorf. The clash

between the public nature of its spaces and the inherently private nature of the hotel

made it a contested field that held Americans' attention. In The American Scene

(1907), his account of returning to the U.S. after some 25 years of living in England,

Henry James finds the hotel a central feature of modern American life, writing that "the

present is more and more the day of the hotel," and he seems surprised that vulgar

Americans could have produced the aesthetic grandeur of the Waldorf-Astoria, which he

describes as "a synonym for civilization"-or at least as a sign that the U.S. was



4 Alexis Gregory attributes the decline of the hotel's public nature with its trend toward "greater
personalization by breaking up interior space: a single floor might now be endowed with a concierge,
private elevator, and its own room service" (18).









emerging to have a "civilization" to rival those of Europe (73). But historians are also

quick to point out-sometimes with alarming notes of American exceptionalism-that

the hotel derived a uniquely democratic character from its public spaces. Jefferson

Williamson's The American Hotel: An Anecdotal History (1930), a sepia-toned

remembrance of hotels past, argues that unlike Old European lodging institutions that

were exclusively the domain of the elites, America's hotels "were built for equalitarian

enjoyment [....] Indeed, the public could enjoy much in America's hotels without its

costing them a cent-the lobby, for example, and even the bar-room" (9). Moreover, he

writes, hotels were the undisputed hubs of social activity in urban communities:

Then, too, there was the fact that America's hotels were the great social
centers of the general public, the favorite places for balls, banquets, and
other affairs. This was a heritage of the old inn days, when there was a
lack of private mansions in which social affairs could be held on any sizable
scale. Democracy's leaven, admitting all classes to these events, made it
necessary to use the Long Rooms of the inns. In addition to being the
accepted centers of social activity, the hotels were also the centers of
political, business, and other forms of activity. (Williamson 9)

According to A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, the singular historian to focalize on the institutional

history of the hotel, social functions at hotels were not exclusively the domain of the

elites, but were also organized by political parties and trade groups ranging from fire

departments to manufacturers' associations to bankers' organizations-functions the

hotel still sponsors today, but that were considered vital elements of public culture in the

nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Because they were social centers for travelers and locals alike, hotels acted as

contact zones along two planes, putting individuals into contact with each other, and

putting a community into contact with the nation. Sandoval-Strausz writes that this role

in facilitating contact was the primary identity of hotels through the early twentieth









century: "A hotel's public spaces were the heart and soul of the establishment: the

places where people spent their time, the part observers said the most about, the areas

of the liveliest sociability and innovation" (165). Beginning in the early 1800s, hotels

aggressively created these contact zones with spaces designed for expressly public

functions. Sandoval-Strausz, arguing that hotels during this period were spatially

enacting the ideals of Jacksonian democracy, writes that lobbies, bars, and parlors were

designed spaces of social heterogeneity that were more closely associated with the

hotel than the accommodations of private guest rooms. Reading rooms, organized

more for business than for generic sociability, were another facet of the hotel's public

spaces. Above all, the dining rooms emphasized egalitarian sociability-so much so

that one journalist referred to them as "the tangible republic" (Williamson 210)-in large

part due to the American plan, the meal plan that prevailed in American hotels through

the 1910s. It consisted of four mammoth meals throughout the day, served for a flat

rate included in the cost of the room upon long tables that spanned the length of the

dining room. While Sandoval-Strausz concedes that this free-for-all arrangement "was

hardly conducive to good table manners," he positions it as central to the hotel's

construction of public space, because it necessitated contact between strangers at the

table (169).

While staying at a hotel was mostly an exclusive affair that demonstrated the

private nature of the hotel, participating in these public spaces was not-a key

distinction to make in the hotel's claim for democratized ideals. Sandoval-Strausz,

comparing average hotel prices with prevailing wage rates in the 1800s, estimates that

only about 20% of Americans could afford a hotel stay-a minority further limited by the









racial segregation of hotels (64-65). But hotels found ways of maintaining a broad base

of support: lobbies, lounges, and parlors were consistently full of non-residents, small

exhibitions were held to increase foot traffic inside the hotel, and drinks at the bar and

meals in the dining hall were priced to a wide audience-in large part because selling

drinks was usually the hotel's most profitable operation (Sandoval-Strausz 65, 168). In

fact, as Alexis Gregory notes, bar sales were so integral to the hotel's finances that

Prohibition sent many hotels into bankruptcy (27-28). So while an extended stay was

out of reach for most, any reasonably dressed white person could make use of the

hotel's facilities-almost as if they were literally public facilities. Because these spaces

facilitated exchanges from individuals of a variety of backgrounds and created a

democratized, if exclusively white, social heterogeneity, Sandoval-Strausz appraises the

hotel's contact zone as a precursor to modern cosmopolitanism:

[H]otels created what might be called a multiplier effect: because people
came to the same hotel spaces for many different reasons, there was
constant crossing and commingling that exposed people to unexpected
individuals and ideas. Someone who went to a hotel for a political caucus
would also encounter travelers, their unfamiliar accents or foreign
languages, and their styles of dress and comportment; by the same token,
a person who ventured into a hotel for a shot of whiskey might thereby
come into contact with antiliquor activists, itinerant physicians, society
debutantes, or revivalist preachers. In short, hotels both focused and
amplified the transformative power of human interaction. (261)

While the exclusivity of a hotel's guest rooms reinforced class hierarchy, the public

rooms fostered an aggregation characterized more by social diversity and heterogeneity

than class uniformity.

The uniquely public environment of the hotel spaces was a common figure in

literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, made all the more

dynamic by the tension between these public spaces and the private nature of the hotel.









In Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900), for example, various New York hotel lobbies

serve as resting places for George Hurstwood when he needs refuge from the cold as

he scours the city for jobs, offering stark contrasts between the success he aspires to-

and the status Carrie requires of their relationship-and his downward mobility. In

"Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria" (1931), his polemical response to an ad for the

opening of the decadent new hotel in the onset of the Great Depression, Langston

Hughes challenged the disparity between the hotel's public access and its exclusivity,

writing in direct address to the city's poor and unemployed, "Walk through Peacock

Alley and get warm, anyway. You've got nothing else to do" (17). Grand Hotel, the

1932 film starring Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, sets most of its action in public

spaces like the lobby and the tea room, using the switchboard and the revolving door as

transitional figures to pass between settings and narrative threads. Architect and

theorist Rem Koolhaas pins a host of narrative production to the opening of the

spectacular new Waldorf:5

In the thirties-when the second Waldorf is being built-the "Hotel"
becomes Hollywood's favorite subject. In a sense, it relieves the
scriptwriter of the obligation of inventing a plot. A Hotel is a plot-a
cybernetic universe with its own laws generating random but fortuitous
collisions between human beings who would never have met elsewhere. It
offers a fertile cross section through the population, a richly textured
interface between social castes, a field for the comedy of clashing manners
and a neutral background of routine operations to give every incident
dramatic relief. (149-50)

Though the conditions of the hotel's public role were changing by Blondes's 1920s, and

certainly by Grand Hotel's 1930s, the cultural signification of the hotel as a public space

5 The new Waldorf's opening was such a sensational event that even President Hoover's remarks
attended it. Discussing the hotel's centrality to American culture during the September 30, 1931
broadcast, Hoover said, "'Our hotels have become community institutions. They are the center points of
civic hospitality. They are the meeting place of a thousand community and national activities'" (Wharton
532-33).









remained vibrant enough for Loos and others to draw upon it. Loos's use of the hotel's

public spaces to figure social movement is part of a long tradition spanning the major

periods associated with the turn of the century, as well as their formal genres.

At the same time that it figured the public in many narratives, hotels also continued

to act as a staple trope of wealth and status. While Grand Hotel renders its spaces as

contact zones between classes, nationalities, and belief systems, the hotel itself

remains a symbol of class stratification-witness Otto Kringelein, a lower-class man

with a terminal illness trying to live it up at the hotel in his final days, though constantly

confronted with the fact that he is out of his element with the wonders of running water

and electricity. And while the lobbies of New York's hotels provide Hurstwood respite

from the cold city in Sister Carrie, hotels like the Wellington and the Waldorf also serve

as markers of social ascension and material accumulation for Carrie, who is offered free

lodging at the city's best hotels after she becomes a Broadway success -a common

strategy used by hotels to boost their prestige by publicizing celebrity patrons. As Justin

Kaplan notes, the famed Astor Hotel "figures as a landmark and measurement of

success in nearly every one of Horatio Alger Jr.'s immensely popular strive-and-

succeed, pluck-and-luck stories" (92). In Harold Frederic's The Damnation of Theron

Ware (1896), a provincial young pastor pursues his love interest to the city, only to be

overwhelmed by the "sense of metropolitan affluence in the very air" that attends her

hotel (313). In Willa Gather's "Paul's Case" (1920), a young runaway thief lands in New

York where he fulfills his dreams of wealth and splendor at the Waldorf, awed by the

jetset class. The allure of wealth, status, and spectacle associated with the hotel in this









line of representation is, of course, the motivating factor in Lorelei's infatuation with the

Ritz and other grand hotels throughout Blondes.

These two literary traditions-the hotel figuring the public, and the hotel signifying

the prestige of private patrons-converge in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, where Lorelei's

adventures in the public sphere flout class stratification and gender norms. Lorelei uses

casual references to the Ritz to impress readers of her diary, and she manipulates the

Ritz's spaces to convince potential suitors that she is a person of note. In fact, her

brand allegiance is so great that the Ritz is a prominent part of nearly every stop on her

grand tour of Europe-financed by one suitor, Gus "The Button King" Eisman, as a ploy

to distract her from a rival suitor, the novelist Gerry Lamson. With Dorothy as her

traveling partner, Lorelei leaves New York for England, disembarking on the

transatlantic oceanliner The Majestic, which she is quick to liken to her familiar hotel,

saying "you would not know it was a ship because it is just like being at the Ritz" (19).

Indeed there is a Ritz restaurant on board the ship, where Lorelei hatches a ruse to get

the upper hand on a former adversary by gaining his confidence, learning his state

secrets, and passing them on to a British operative aboard the ship. The duo's first stop

in London is the Ritz, where they make a celebrity sighting of Fanny Ward, and likewise

the first attraction in Paris is its Ritz Hotel, where Lorelei and Dorothy socialize with

celebrity types at the bar. But when she arrives in "the Central of Europe," the leg of the

tour that takes her to Munich, Vienna, and finally to Budapest, references to the Ritz are

few and far between. Her hotel in Munich is unnamed, in Vienna she stays at the Bristol

Hotel, and the Ritz in Budapest is an astonishing exception to the rule: "So we will soon

be at the Ritz hotel again and I must say it will be delightful to find a Ritz hotel right in









the central of Europe" (Loos, Blondes 97). Relatively unexplored compared to the other

cities she visits, Budapest-"Buda Pest," as she calls it-only offers one attraction, the

hotel, that warrants mention in Lorelei's travel diary.

The Ritz occupies a special place in Lorelei's travels, conferring prestige not only

on her, but on the cities that host them. When in London and Paris she observes the

Ritz as her first stop, it is not merely to check in and drop her luggage. Instead, the Ritz

is an attraction all by itself. In Paris, for example, Lorelei writes, "So we came to the

Ritz Hotel and the Ritz Hotel is devine. Because when a girl can sit in a delightful bar

and have delicious champagne cocktails and look at all the important French people in

Paris, I think it is devine" (Loos, Blondes 51-52). As in London, she loiters around the

hotel, clinging to its familiar environs, before adventuring outside to tour the city.

Lorelei's fixation on the Ritz during her tour is of course part of Loos's humorous

lampooning of her lack of cultural sophistication. Lorelei may praise the Paris Ritz as

"devine," but she remarks that the Tower of London "really is not even as tall as the

Hickox building in Little Rock and would only make a chimney on one of our towers in

New York," and the primary attraction in Paris is "Coty and Cartier," where she believes

"we were seeing something educational at last and our whole trip was not a failure"

(Loos, Blondes 40, 52).

But Lorelei's comical fixation on the Ritz also has the decidedly staid effect of

mapping distributions of wealth. When she arrives in the Central of Europe-a leg of

the tour that conspicuously groups together the former Central Powers-the relative

absence of the Ritz is striking. Instead of the fabulous decadence of a grand hotel, the

first sight she observes in Germany is hard labor-a brutal women's work that gives









Lorelei slight pause to consider her own privilege. Looking out the window of her

passing train, she sees something "really quite unusual. Because it was farms, and we

saw quite a lot of girls who seemed to be putting small size hay stacks onto large size

hay stacks while their husbands seemed to sit at a table under quite a shady tree and

drink beer" (Loos, Blondes 75). This scene sets the tone for the remainder of the trip,

which Lorelei finds dingy and uncouth. The contrast with an establishing scene set in a

Ritz Hotel is telling, because it shows how the presence of the hotel is vital to Lorelei's

mapping of wealth, acting as nodes on her network of the visible globe-a global scene

from which the postwar, reparations-burdened Central Powers are largely absent.

While Lorelei and Dorothy have but a fleeting encounter with laborers during the

train ride into Germany, knowable relationships with workers constitutes a major part of

their experience within hotels-and a major part of their rejection of the grand hotel's

class stratification. For if the public spaces of the hotel are designed for meeting and

mixing, a surprising number of the contacts Lorelei and Dorothy make in their Ritz-

hopping adventures involve hotel service workers. In London, a bellhop named Harry is

an integral part of Lorelei's ruse to ensnare the aristocrat Sir Francis Beekman. Lorelei

describes him as a friend "who is quite a nice boy who is called Harry and who we talk

to quite a lot," and relies on him to execute the plan to corner Beekman into claiming

credit for sending orchids to Lorelei's room-flowers that Lorelei paid for herself in a

ploy to loosen up Beekman's wallet with the ultimate goal of attaining a $7,500 diamond

tiara (Loos, Blondes 44). In Paris, Leon, a "waiter friend" whom they meet at the Ritz

restaurant, serves as a confidant; he translates the dialogue between Robber and

Louie, detectives hired by Beekman's wife to recover the ill-got tiara, so that Lorelei can


100









anticipate their ruse with one of her own (Loos, Blondes 63). It is a trend continued in

the 1928 sequel, and in some ways prequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, wherein

Lorelei and Dorothy cozy up to Tony, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel restaurant, to

discuss "ideas" and later to make connections with the literati of the Algonquin Round-

Table (Loos 139). And this is to say nothing of the numerous contacts the duo makes

with workers outside of hotels. For example, Lorelei's relationship with her maid Lulu is

so close that she entrusts her with the all-important task of "education" and "improving

her mind": "I told Lulu to let all of the house work go and spend the day reading a book

entitled 'Lord Jim' and then tell me about it, so that I would improve my mind while Gerry

is away" (Loos, Blondes 13). At almost every stage of the novel, Lorelei and Dorothy

have strong connections to the people who work to sustain their comfortable lifestyles.

To observe these relationships is not to imply that Lorelei and Dorothy are

sympathetic with labor interests. In each case, a relationship with a worker is the

means to an end: Harry is a role player in the orchids ruse, Leon is necessary for

deciphering French, Tony is useful in cozying up to the Algonquin's literary scene, and

Lulu performs the duties of the household. But that is the case with all of Lorelei's

relationships, regardless of class, as each of her suitors serves as a path to some form

of material gain. The important thing to take away from this set of relationships is that

they are as sincere as any form of human interaction Lorelei knows. She refers to these

workers as friends, and she and Dorothy relate to them earnestly, and without any

condescension marking their class difference.

Such free exchanges with workers may reflect the anxieties over class that

pervade Blondes. Lorelei's fixation on "education" and "improvement" reflect a middle-


101









class sensibility that is a common subject in criticism. For example, Mark McGurl

explains that in addition to Lorelei's quest for material accumulation, she pursues the

immaterial values of middle class virtue: "Her tale is also conspicuously, if satirically,

about the acquisition of culture, an aesthetic education Lorelei refers to as 'improving

her mind'" (106). These middle-class keywords often act as code for the carefully

avoided subject of sexual economy that permeates Lorelei's diary. For example, she

writes that "when a gentlemen is interested in educating a girl, he likes to stay and talk

about the topics of the day until quite late, so I am quite fatigued the next day," and of

one suitor's rivalry she remarks, "Mr. Spoffard might not seem to understand why Mr.

Eisman seems to spend quite a lot of money to get me educated" (Loos, Blondes 4, 87).

And Loos's selection of Little Rock, Arkansas as Lorelei's birthplace is telling, as it sits

right in the middle of the region that Mencken dubbed "the Sahara of the Bozart" in

1920, signaling Loos's adoption of Mencken's decidedly hostile stance toward the

South. In the introduction to the twenty-second edition of Blondes, published in 1963,

Loos writes that "I wanted Lorelei to be a symbol of the lowest possible mentality of our

nation" and therefore "chose Little Rock for my heroine's early years" (Loos, "Biography"

55). Still later, she would say Mencken had a more direct hand in crafting Lorelei's

lower-class background: "It was at a cocktail party that Menck gave me the idea of

choosing Little Rock as the proper birthplace for the idiotic blonde whose story I was

writing" (Loos, "Cocktail Parties" 95-96). But as Loos was well aware, Mencken's

"Sahara" of intellectual and cultural production figured the cultural anxieties of class

much more than it questioned regional intellectual capacities-"the poor white trash are


102









now in the saddle," he wrote of one case study in Southern intellectual-cultural decline

(186)-and those anxieties loom large in Blondes.

Lorelei is self-conscious of her class position, as her investment in middle-class

methods of social ascension like "education" and "improvement" demonstrate. In one

more direct case, she even attempts an outright revision of her own narrative: when

reporters covering her engagement to the wealthy Reform advocate Henry Spoffard ask

about what she did before becoming engaged, she tells them, "I was nothing but a

society girl from Little Rock" (Loos, Blondes 100). Minting herself as a "society girl"

raises the question of whether or not Lorelei has deceived herself into this historical

revisionism, or if it is merely a bid to consolidate her engagement to Spoffard,

positioning herself as socially equal to his WASPy family. Regardless of whatever

degree of self-delusion there may be in Lorelei's idea of her own class status, she at all

times projects the glamour of a society girl, and her patronage of grand hotels is key to

the realization of her WASPy aspirations. Not only does the Ritz offer the spectacle of

wealth befitting the class status she desires, but it also affords her opportunities to mix

with elites in the hotel's public spaces.

While hotels offer Lorelei a chance to mix with service employees behind the

scenes, they also offer her an opportunity to broadcast her status by ostentatious

displays of mixing with elites and celebrities. In the London Ritz restaurant, Lorelei and

Dorothy spot the famed vaudeville and silent film actress Fanny Ward, and hastily

attach to her: "we asked to her to come over to our table and we were all three

delighted to see each other. Because I and Fanny have known each other for about

five years" (Loos, Blondes 34-35). The three of them get on so well that they go


103









shopping together, and Fanny teaches Lorelei some of her fashion tricks-a set of

women adventuring outside of the private domestic sphere that is equally as important

as the celebrity nature of the group. At the bar in the Paris Ritz, Lorelei and Dorothy

again attach their social worth to that of celebrities in their proximity, with Lorelei's

trademark malapropisms: "I mean when a girl can sit there and look at the Dolly sisters

and Pearl White and Maybelle Gilman Corey, and Mrs. Nash, it is beyond worlds" (Loos,

Blondes 52). Lorelei recalls that the first time she saw her future husband was at the

New York Ritz when he scorned the scandalous actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce out of his

Reformist "Prespyterian" convictions. And when she finally breaks things off with Mr.

Eisman, secure in her relational exchange with Spoffard, she softens the blow by

offering herself as social capital for him: "I told him that he really ought to be very proud

of me, because in the future, when he would see me at luncheon at the Ritz as the wife

of the famous Henry H. Spoffard, I would always bow to him, if I saw him, and he could

point me out to all of his friends and tell them that it was he, Gus Eisman himself, who

educated me up to my station" (Loos, Blondes 121). In the short span of the novel, the

Ritz's public spaces see a revolution: Lorelei initially uses them to glean status and

prestige from celebrities and elites with whom she brushes elbows, and ultimately she

uses them to bestow her own social capital onto Eisman and others who could claim

gainful connections to her.

In this sense, Lorelei's use of the hotel's contact zones is rather routine. She

creates networks of social capital by creating and highlighting connections to the rich

and famous. But when this behavior is paired with her affiliation with the service

workers who help sustain these luxurious hotels and facilitate the elites' contact sites,


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Blondes rings an unexpected note in its own narrative of upward mobility: Lorelei's

navigation of these public spaces signals a paradox of ascension and flattening. On the

one hand, as we have seen, she uses these spaces to parade her own material and

cultural accumulation and display her connections to the elites of the Social Register-

and her very presence there completes her rise from her lowly roots in "Saharan"

Arkansas. On the other hand, Lorelei persistently cultivates connections to the hotel's

staff as if she were still maintaining connections with her lower-class history, and

without a thought for the scorn WASP elites would have for such conduct. In both

cases, she carefully develops social networks-a leisurely set to burnish her credentials

of social capital, and a working set to help her establish those credentials. Situated

between these two classes of networks, Lorelei acts as a pivotal nodal exchange,

bridging the gap between elites and workers, simultaneously rising up the ranks of class

hierarchy and flattening it with her ambivalent affiliations.

This phenomenon has been observed, if obliquely, in criticism of Blondes. As I

mentioned above, Barreca observes "the socially disruptive nature of Loos's

characters." And McGurl characterizes Blondes as preoccupied with "the problem of

social indistinction and cultural leveling" as it satirizes mechanisms of distinction by

imagining a context "where even morons like Lorelei Lee are encouraged to write books

and even the Philadelphia social elite try their hand at film scenarios" (109). Aside from

the mean-spirited tone and what sounds vaguely like a defense of class stratification,

McGurl's narrative of indistinctionn" and "leveling" fails to account for the distinctly

networked nature by which it is achieved. For it is not only her undermining of

traditional tools and practices of social distinction-her claim for authorial legitimacy, her


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dubious means of "improving her mind," her continual upbraiding of Dorothy's

"unrefined" behavior-that yield a leveling of the social hierarchy that Lorelei intends to

climb. Lorelei achieves this flattening by drawing relational lines in all directions, with no

regard for class status.

But it is equally important to observe that Lorelei conducts these globetrotting

adventures in the hotel's public spaces as a single, unchaperoned woman. In other

words, the hotel provides a space for Lorelei to finesse the gendered boundaries of

public life and private domesticity. Much of the feminist criticism of Blondes is

interested in how Lorelei manages to avoid the suffocation of being a "kept" woman,

and her negotiation of these boundaries is facilitated in large part by the public spaces

of the hotel. Noting another context of Lorelei's use of public spaces, Susan

Hegeman, writes that Blondes arrives in a moment when the workplace was becoming

another site of public engagement: "growing numbers of women were finding it either

desirable or necessary to find work outside the home. Though many kinds of factory

work were being gradually closed to women, jobs as secretaries, file clerks,

stenographers, and switchboard operators were plentiful, enticing young women like

Lorelei into 'business colleges' across the country" (536). Lorelei has such a working

life in her backstory, but her role as secretary came to a rather abrupt end when her

boss found himself shot by her revolver: "it seems that I had a revolver in my hand and

it seems that the revolver had shot Mr. Jennings," she recalls (Loos, Blondes 25). Aside

from her brief stint as a secretary, Lorelei's primary navigation of public spaces takes

place in more leisurely contexts of travel, parties, and hotels. While Dorothy's putative

function on the Grand Tour is to act as proxy chaperone for Eisman, ever desirous of


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keeping Lorelei under his control, she and Lorelei both make a mockery of Eisman's

paternalistic impulses by using his patronage to fund their scandalous exploits. Openly

mixing in the hotels-with workers and celebrities alike, none of whom, one suspects,

would receive Eisman's approval-the two enjoy an easy freedom of movement that is

a constitutive element of the hotel's public spaces. Their ability to maintain that freedom

without conceding their aspirations for social ascension-in other words, to mix freely

without tainting themselves with working class indecorousness or worse, associating

themselves with prostitution-would be nearly impossible without the hotel's seal of

propriety.

In a way, then, the winking nature of the text comports with a winking nature of the

hotel that involves its strange role as a public and private space. Loos's sly prose

routinely suggests Lorelei's scandalous behavior, and similarly the grand hotel, at the

same time that it was a stout marker of wealth and respectability, often connoted

scandalous hijinks. Just as today the "do not disturb" door hanger evokes an illicit

brand of conduct that is associated with the hotel, the hotel-ranging from the grandest

to the most pedestrian-has long had a reputation for unseemly behavior that figures

into Loos's use of hotel settings. Evidence of such conduct is hard to come by for

obvious reasons, but Sandoval-Strausz writes that there is a long record of divorces

predicated on hotel-related testimony that bears out the hotel's role as a site of illicit

affairs, and he notes that prostitution was so closely related to hotels that upstanding

women had to follow strict propriety codes to ensure not to be mistaken for working

women. He writes, "The first word on sex in hotels belongs to a minister who preached

that hotels were immoral. Asked why, he replied that any establishment that sold liquor


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and contained so many beds had to be sinful" (Sandoval-Strausz 204)-a context that

of course predates the Prohibition era of Blondes, but that nonetheless establishes the

hotel's iconography in American culture. Lorelei surely navigated propriety codes so as

to avoid the taint of prostitution, but nevertheless these very significations draw on the

hotel's paradoxes-public spaces, private rooms, and the risk of private assignations

being made public.

This seedy side of the hotel gives it a quite different function as a contact zone.

As Sandoval-Stausz writes, the hotel at the turn of the century was a contact zone ripe

for cosmopolitan encounters, where people could go expecting the unexpected-

individuals and ideas equally exotic. And I might add that its reputation for illicit sex in

its private spaces made the hotel a contact zone not only of exotic, but also erotic

encounters. While her activities at the hotel never directly border on indecency,

Lorelei's use of the hotel to disrupt the gendered boundaries of public and private add

another dimension to Blondes's figuration of public spaces. With its public restaurants,

lobbies, and bars, along with its private and potentially scandalous chambers, the hotel

provides a perfect field for Lorelei to exert herself as an unkept woman and as a social

climber. In her pursuit of the wealth, prestige, and power signaled by the grand hotel,

Lorelei challenges the public and private norms of gender, and inadvertently

reorganizes class stratification into a networked field in the hotel's public spaces. This

is the true mark of Lorelei's social ambition: she is not, in fact, a social climber, but a

networker of the social sphere.

Cocktail Parties, Class, And Networks

In her later years, after her screenwriting career had faded and her days as a

novelist were well behind her, Loos turned to writing a set of memoirs and to regular


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work writing columns and guest pieces for various magazines. Here Loos's

conservativism emerges fully in her nostalgia for the 1920s: nostalgia for romance,

which she believes declined with the passing of the 20s; nostalgia for the vitality of the

20s, against the perceived sterility of the 1970s and 80s; nostalgia for the disappearing

Renaissance Man; nostalgia for the old frontiers of 1920s sexuality, indicated in the

snarky, and sometimes suspicious tone of her revised catchphrase, "gentlemen prefer

gentlemen." In the late 1960s, she even wrote a series of columns for Family Weekly

giving advice to modern housewives on such issues as avoidance of nervous

breakdowns and the governance of unruly youth-advice that seems well beyond her

authority given that Loos scrupulously avoided domestic responsibilities throughout her

life, and given that her celebrity was predicated on her association with the ribald

lifestyle of the flapper.

"Cocktail Parties of the Twenties," published in Gourmet Magazine in 1970, offers

a glance at how her view of class upheaval continued even into this period of

conservativism, and sheds light on some of Blondes's textual dynamics. The beginning

of the article reads like an outmoded celebrity's final appeal for relevance to a new

generation, opening with a catalogue of must-have guests to create a successful party:

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Mencken, George Gershwin, Tallulah Bankhead, and

Horace Liveright, as well as a supporting cast of "oodles and oodles of flappers and

equal oodles of college men down from Harvard and Yale or up from Princeton" (Loos,

"Cocktail Parties" 97). Loos dutifully dishes on celebrity gossip to chronicle the

scandalous behavior befitting the Prohibition-drunk glamour of a Jazz Age party. For

example, she writes that the Fitzgeralds "would always compete with each other in


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bloodcurdling misbehavior; if Scott was inspired to climb out on a high window ledge,

Zelda could always find some excuse to take off her clothes" (Loos, "Cocktail Parties"

95). But the standard reminiscence of bygone celebrity gives way to quasi-sociological

study when Loos turns to the role of the requisite bootlegger at such gatherings.

The bootlegger, she says, was an integral part of any Prohibition-era cocktail

party, because despite the host's best planning efforts, the liquor would inevitably run

out-inevitably, at least, if it was any party worth mention. The bootlegger, Loos writes,

"was welcome first of all as a lifesaver and then, being a man of important social

connections, he frequently remained as a guest" ("Cocktail Parties" 98). Eventually the

liquor would run out again and the bootlegger would send a confederate for

reinforcements-a process that could potentially be repeated indefinitely, bringing more

and more of the bootlegging workforce into the cocktail party. And the bootleggers were

not the only unexpected guests at the party. Neighbors would eventually call the police

with noise complaints, and the police "might enter with a rather rough admonition of

'What do youse guys think you're up to anyhow?' This, however, was merely to alibi the

fact that they were crashing. One look at Zelda in the buff was all they needed to

remain as guests of honor" (Loos, "Cocktail Party" 98). And so the party would go on

with an unpredictable mix of Park Avenue elites, law enforcement, and underworld

bootleggers.

In Loos's account, the introduction of bootleggers and policemen into the celebrity

soiree was an injection of pure "virility"-a hypermasculine sort of sexuality that she

implicitly contrasts with the presumably effeminate masculinity of her celebrity cohort of

Fitzgeralds, Menckens, and Gershwins. It is a conservative brand of manhood that she


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idealizes, describing, perhaps to titillate the domestic readership of Gourmet Magazine,

the collection of manly men as "the most entrancing bevy of square-shooting male

sexpots [that] would recharge a party with enough electricity to make it go for a week"

(Loos, "Cocktail Party" 98). It is something of a cliche-and one suspects, an

overstatement if not an outright untruth-of the Prohibition era that defiance of the

Volstead Act encouraged an unprecedented intermingling of different sorts of people.

But regardless of the accuracy of Loos's memory of these scenes, the introduction of

bootleggers and policemen into the celebrity gathering remakes the cocktail party as a

scene of heterogeneous mixing akin to the public spaces of a hotel. Of course nothing

involving a bootlegger could be forthrightly public during Prohibition, but Loos's

description of the 1920s cocktail party maintains the spirit of those public spaces, acting

like a contact zone instead of a closed private event. Her affinity for the heterogeneous

nature of the cocktail party represents her interest in undermining class stratification

with models of social exchange that more resemble a network.

The atmosphere Loos describes for the prototypical 1920s cocktail party-the

continual resupplying of liquor for a party that could last indefinitely, the hegemonic

expansion to draw in ever more guests, the volatile mix of different people-describes

several scenes in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as well. For example, after one

particularly lively party full of "all the brainy gentlemen I could think up," Lorelei

cryptically remarks, "Heaven knows how long it will take to get the chandelier fixed"

(Loos, Blondes 7). And the party environment attends most of the rest of Lorelei and

Dorothy's breezy adventures through society, with liquor and new acquaintances never

far from sight.


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The cocktail party atmosphere is exemplified in Lorelei's debut party, which

Dorothy decides is necessary after Lorelei rewrites herself as "a society girl from Little

Rock." The notion of such a party is farcical in that Lorelei is well past the age of debut,

and her widespread sexual experiences further undercut any idea that she is only

beginning to enter adulthood. Lorelei's debut, which takes place at her apartment over

a span of three days, is not a cocktail party per se, but it does involve all of the elements

Loos would later prescribe for a successful cocktail party: social elites, bootleggers, law

enforcement, and a considerable degree of debauchery. Dorothy stocks the party with

practically the entire membership of the Racquet Club, all of the dancers from the

Follies, the Prohibitionist Judge Schultzmeyer, and bootlegger Joe Sanguinetti and his

Silver Spray Club, which Lorelei pithily notes "is not even mentioned in the Social

Register" (Loos, Blondes 105). The debut is such an event that the celebrity press

covers it with rave reviews of Lorelei's antics. Afterward, Lorelei writes, "So my debut

has really been very novel, because quite a lot of the guests who finished up at my

debut were not the same guests that started out at it, and it really is quite novel for a girl

to have so many different kinds of gentlemen at her debut" (Loos, Blondes 106). Lorelei

seems to take pride in the multivalent contacts that she is able to generate and sustain.

Aside from its epic duration, the party is noteworthy for two disruptive functions.

First, Lorelei's debut demonstrates a high degree of class intermingling, comparable to

her navigation of the hotel's public spaces. During the preparation for the party,

Dorothy anticipates that the integration of the Racquet Club and the Silver Spray Club

would be a truly distinctive accomplishment: "Dorothy said that by the time the party got

into swing, anyone would have to be a genius if he could tell whether he belonged to the


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Racquet Club, the Silver Spray Club, of the Knights of Pythias" (Loos, Blondes 105).

Anyone would have to be a genius, in other words, to parse out the partiers into their

distinct classes. This interpenetration manifests in one instance, wherein the quartet of

the Silver Spray Club mergers with that of the Racquet Club and the new ensemble

quarrels over pieces to perform, as "Joe's bootleggers said that the Racquet club boys

wanted to sing songs that were unrefined, while they wanted to sing songs about

Mother" (Loos, Blondes 107). The squabble not only obscures class boundaries as the

two clubs converge into one unit, but it also upends the traditionally classed

assumptions about vulgarity and refinement.

Second, Lorelei's debut demonstrates her blurring of public and private gender

norms. A debut, of course, typically inaugurates a brief period in a woman's public life

in the interregnum of the private lives to be led under father and husband. That public

nature is reinforced by the heavy coverage the debut receives from the celebrity press.

But more importantly, the debut party signals Lorelei's avoidance of becoming a kept

woman. The party is conceived so that she can trick now-fiance Spoffard into breaking

off the engagement so she can sue him for breach of faith. Shortly after accepting his

proposal, Lorelei writes, "it might really be better if Henry should decide that he should

not get married, and he should change his mind and desert a girl, and it would only be

right if a girl should sue him for breach of promise" (98). Dorothy's plans for the debut

party fall into Lorelei's lap, corresponding perfectly with her need to set up an escape

clause from the impending marriage. As with the public spaces of the hotel, the debut

party provides a space in which Lorelei challenges her confinement to the private

sphere, and provides her with an opportunity to invent some kind of arrangement by


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which she can finesse the boundaries of public and private gender norms-an

arrangement she ultimately finds in Blondes's conclusion, wherein she arranges that her

marriage to Spoffard allows her to pursue a career in Hollywood.

Of the debut party, Barreca writes, "Dorothy has created a little pocket of anarchy

and gleefully intends to enjoy it" (xiv). The debut party's subversion of class hierarchy

and gender norms is anarchic, to be sure, but it is by no means "a little pocket" of

Blondes. Rather, it is the general rule of the text. As in the public spaces of the hotel,

the space of Lorelei's debut party creates such an entangled web of contacts and

exchanges that muddies the boundaries of public and private, and that for at least a

short while flattens class stratification into a network, framing each individual's relation

to another not in a vertical orientation, but according to a constellar model.

Describing a different text's deployment of the cocktail party as a setting, Michael

Denning considers the implications of the party's figuration of the social. He argues that

the basic social unit of John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy (1930-36) is the cocktail party,

which effectively destroys coherent connections between characters by diminishing the

connective functions of family, community, industry, or shared plot. Denning writes that

in U.S.A. "the cocktail party stands as a substitute for narratives of home and family, an

alternative to the domestic space that usually organizes the novel. Dos Passos's

cocktail parties mediate between public and private spaces: the rooms and homes are

interchangeable with those of restaurants and bars" (Denning 183). U.S.A. and

Denning's criticism of it are the subject of a later chapter, but for now I want to argue

that Loos manages a similar substitution, displacing mediations predicated on class and

gender with the free-flowing networked mediations of the cocktail party and the hotel.


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I concede that it may be naive to read cocktail parties as truly flattened social

spaces where interrelationships are defined by the linkages of networks instead of class

stratification and gender norms. I suspect that even in Loos's prototypical cocktail party

of the 1920s there was never a level field between the celebrity and the commoner had

the bootlegger or policeman been privileged enough to stay around for a while-no

matter how starkly naked Zelda Fitzgerald may have been at the time. But Loos's novel

of social disruption insists on the question: what if social organization were based on

the model of a hotel's public spaces, or a cocktail party, where heterogeneous mixing

were the rule? What if the Lorelei Lees of the world were free to fraternize with service

workers, bootleggers, and elites alike-and vice versa-with no regard for the confines

of class or gendered boundaries of the public and the private?

Sarah Churchwell reads such class dynamics in the interplay between the Lorelei

stories and the ads that accompanied them in their original serialization in Harper's

Bazar. The ads marked their thoroughly middlebrow products as aristocratic, which she

argues creates "an illusion of democratic aristocracy in which Harper's believes, but

Loos does not. The democratic aristocrat is precisely the fantasy of the middlebrow,

like the advertisement that pretends that people on Fifth Avenue eat Campbell's soup,

too" (Churchwell 145). If the novel is truly invested in a democratized aristocracy-even

if only as satire of dim cultural and intellectual "Saharans" like Lorelei-its corruption of

the highbrow and the distinction of taste is not the only means of achieving it. This

almost utopian potential is key to Blondes's treatment of public spaces and the making

of social heterogeneity via networks.


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Moreover, Loos's use of hotels and the cocktail party to blur the boundaries of

public and private and create heterogeneous networks demonstrates the centrality of

spatial dynamics to the moderns' theorization of networked organization. As I

mentioned in the introduction, a central feature of the modern period was its lively public

culture that grew out of newly crafted leisure time and the urban milieu, lit by advances

in electrification and facilitated by the growth of public transportation. But the spaces of

this public culture are immensely important to the cultural logic of modernism, as the

public gatherings created a centralizing gravity that acted against the atomizing

impulses of private domesticity. In other words, the tension between public culture and

private domesticity maps rather neatly over the fundamental dialectical tension of

modernism-centralization and dispersal, totality and fragmentation-and the networks

of public and private that Lorelei manages to create in Blondes perform an important

mediation of those polarities.


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CHAPTER 4
JOHN DOS PASSOS'S U.S.A. TRILOGY

The literary history of John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy (1930-36) is in some

respects as epic as the work itself. Common, for example, is the position that Michael

Denning takes on the trilogy's troubled relationship with critics over the tumultuous

period of late modernism: "to put it crudely, his move to the radical right lost him his left-

wing admirers, while the undisputed sense that his early works are his finest made him

a difficult icon for the right [....] Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not move

from a radical political art to an apolitical formalism, and thus never won the allegiance

of formalist or aestheticist critics" (167). This trajectory, however, does not fully account

for a spike in interest in the author and the trilogy in the early 1980s: a 1980 Modern

Fiction Studies special issue dedicated to U.S.A., Townsend Ludington's sprawling

biography of Dos Passos of the same year, and chapters in several books throughout

the decade. Nor does it account for the late 1990s revival in Dos Passos scholarship-

perhaps partly fueled by the 1996 publication of a Library of America edition of the

U.S.A. trilogy-in which Denning himself is a key figure. Yet on the whole these remain

as minor peaks of interest, and in American literary scholarship the U.S.A. trilogy is not

exactly gone, but is close to forgotten.

Perhaps more than any other modernist work, the U.S.A. trilogy insists on a

totalizing vision of its fragments, and accordingly its form offers a framework that turn-

of-the-century readers should recognize, if only implicitly, as a network construction.

Built of four separate but integrated narrative modes, Dos Passos's trilogy imagines the

nation as a clear articulation of the cultural logic of modernism: a dialectical tension

between the tendency of dispersal and the desire to maintain some kind of unifying


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identity for the nation. In this representation of national space, and especially U.S.

history, Dos Passos explores the dialectic of fragment and totality that is the defining

tension of American modernism. In a move that is representative of the centrality of

networked figuration in high modernist formal experimentation, Dos Passos creates

formal networks to mediate this dialectical tension, and then uses the trilogy's

networked configuration as a conceptual tool to think not only the dynamics of national

space, but also the workings of the study of history. The trilogy's formal networks,

which in part develop characterological networks of fictional figures, place the network

as a central device for thinking the American moderns' rapidly changing milieu.

A "Four-Way Conveyor System"

That the fragment is a standard trope deployed by the moderns is a truism among

scholars of modernisms. The U.S.A. trilogy's intervention into modernist fragmentation

is noteworthy, however, in its intensification of the formal experiments already seen in

short story cycles like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919) or in Jean

Toomer's collage of poetry, prose, and drama in Cane (1923), to name just two of the

most canonical examples. Moreover, Dos Passos's trilogy is equally intensive in its

efforts to totalize its set of fragments into some kind of whole organism. To negotiate

these two dialectical tendencies, fragmentation and totalization, the architecture of Dos

Passos's narrative evokes the figure of the network as it circumscribes American history

from 1900 through the late 1920s. Thomas Ludington, the authoritative biographer of

Dos Passos, explains that Dos Passos conceived of the trilogy as a "'series of

reportages of the time'" in which he was "'trying to get something a little more accurate

than fiction'" (256). In pairing networked aesthetics with this historical project, Dos

Passos offers something like a constellar model of the study of history.


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The distinction of U.S.A.'s fragmentation lies in its experimental technique of

employing four discrete modes for this historical narrative. As Denning notes, Dos

Passos referred to the trilogy's structure as a "four-way conveyor system" comprised of

some sixty-eight Newsreels, fifty-one Camera Eyes, twenty-seven biographical

sketches, and fictional narratives centered on twelve anchoring character-threads (170).

Denning argues convincingly that Dos Passos's architectural narration was designed as

"a series of formal solutions to the problem of building a novel that culminates in the

magical unity of the title itself, U.S.A." (169). Indeed, each component of this

architecture seems to perform a specialized task in the service of that totalizing

narration, a design that Denning argues reflects an "aesthetic Taylorism" (170). The

Newsreels offer newspaper copy, advertisements, and popular song lyrics to narrate the

history and zeitgeist of the period. The Camera Eye, which scholars often recognize as

a stream-of-consciousness rendering of Dos Passos's own life, narrates the lived

experience of the period-if a lived experience limited to the author's biography. The

biographical sketches outline a punctuated history via great-man-of-history portraits of

Woodrow Wilson, Eugene Debs, Andrew Carnegie, Thorstein Veblen, and the Wright

Brothers, to name but a few of the figures whom Dos Passos explores alongside their

interventions into U.S. history and culture. The fictional component narrates the

developments of the period through a matrix of characters experiencing different

segments of the historical spectrum.

It bears noting that this "four-way conveyor system" was quite controversial among

early reviews of the trilogy's volumes. Even to his contemporary readers, already

accustomed to the moderns' revolt against verisimilitude, Dos Passos's four-way


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conveyor presented a major interpretative challenge. Upton Sinclair's review of The

42nd Parallel (1930) for the New Masses, though perhaps not quite representative given

his commitment to social realism, lashed out at Dos Passos's three non-fictional modes.

Sinclair called the Newsreels "vaudeville material;" he said that insofar as the

biographical sketches were relatively short "we don't mind them especially;" and he

lamented that the Camera Eye passages bear no strong relation to the character-

threads (88). Espousing a common ambivalence toward the "four-way conveyor

system," Matthew Josephson's Saturday Review piece on 1919 (1932) treated the non-

fictional modes as white noise, characterizing them as "a sort of vivid backdrop against

which the characters pass in procession" (107). And it is telling that the British publisher

of The 42nd Parallel wanted to eliminate altogether the Newsreels and Camera Eyes

from their edition (Ludington 287).

Against these critiques we can contrast Malcom Cowley's New Republic review of

The Big Money (1936), which addresses the complete trilogy's reliance on "technical

devices" to make Dos Passos's architecture of history cohere, and he treats each of the

four narrative modes to show their unique contributions to the text ("End of a Trilogy"

137-39). Cowley even revisited that review a year later to argue that the Camera Eye

segments perform the function of maintaining interiority that prevents U.S.A. from being

a mere "collective novel" ("Afterthoughts" 134). Cowley's persistent defense of Dos

Passos's non-fictional modes should indicate the extent to which the ambivalence of

Josephson's white-noise assessment prevailed among reviewers of the U.S.A. trilogy,

which seems to indicate critics' bafflement at what common purpose these separate

"conveyors" share.


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What I find distinctive about this formal architecture is that it offers a networked

vision of the United States and of narration itself. Dos Passos de-centers the character-

threads by introducing that element third, behind the first volleys of Newsreels and the

Camera Eye that inaugurate The 42nd Parallel. With the plot-driven narration

marginalized from its usual position of authority, U.S.A. proceeds to locate its project in

the interstices of the four narrative nodes that compose its vision of the United States.

In keeping with the Fordist language Dos Passos chose to describe the

"conveyors" system, these four narrative modes indeed cooperate to produce the text

by filling in the gaps left by the other modes, but the narration is not as strictly linear as

the "conveyors" analogy would have it. Instead, the narrative modes stage a

complicated tension between linear and constellar movement, much as the actual

Fordist workplace did in its reliance on subsegmentation. On the one hand, each

separate mode unfolds in roughly chronological order, in the movement of a conveyor.

For example, the Newsreels start with the dawn of the new century, cover the tumult of

the war years, and move on to the first Florida land boom and other hallmarks of the

Roaring 20s. And the other narrative modes follow that trajectory, with the character-

threads presenting minor exceptions in the movement from one dominant character to

another that sometimes requires resetting history to get a character's back-story. But

on the other hand, the trilogy's architecture replicates Fordism's non-linear strategy of

subsegmentation. The Fordist paradigm operates on the division of labor, where

separate tasks are performed by separate workers on separate assembly lines, and that

is precisely the model of Dos Passos's architecture: a division of narrational labor that

assigns four modes of representation to four distinct segments of narrative that move


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along as conveyor belts that are paradoxically autonomous and independent. That

Fordist interdependence of distinct narrative tasks sets up a constellar mode of

production. In other words, the structure of the trilogy is that of a network comprised of

four anchoring nodes.

We can see this networked narration on display in a sequence of each of the four

modes in 1919, with each mode providing a different treatment of the events of

Armistice Day. In the fictional mode, the action of Armistice Day is related through Joe

Williams, whom we first met as he deserted the merchant marine in Buenos Aires. Joe

is in France when the news comes, and he enjoys the exuberant scene-"everybody

was dancing in the kitchen and they poured the cook so many drinks he passed out cold

and they all sat there singing and drinking champagne out of tumblers and cheering the

allied flags that girls kept carrying through" (Dos Passos, 1919 187)-partly with his

trademark womanizing. Newsreel XXIX, which immediately follows the Joe Williams

piece, conveys the objective history of the event with headlines reporting the actual

signing of the Armistice as well as the riotous celebrations that accompanied it: "the

arrival of the news caused the swamping of the city's telephone lines"; "at the Custom

House the crowd sang The Star Spangled Banner under the direction of Byron R.

Newton the Collector of the Port"; "Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light'; and

so on (Dos Passos, 1919 189). The thirty-sixth Camera Eye relates the experience of

the event: "Hay sojer tell me they've signed an armistice tell me the wars over

they're takin us home latrine talk the hell you say" (Dos Passos, 1919 191). The

biographical sketch at the end of this sequence is a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, and

while the Armistice itself gets only glancing treatment-"Almost too soon the show was


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over" (Dos Passos, 1919 195)-the sketch neatly situates Wilson in the context of the

empire building that would be the treaty's most lasting legacy: alongside Clemenceau

and Lloyd George, Wilson is one of "three old men shuffling the pack, / dealing out the

cards" of imperial mapping (Dos Passos, 1919 197).

Still, the quadrangulated sequence of Armistice Day rather oversimplifies the

networked narration that organizes U.S.A. Its sequential grouping, uninterrupted by

other matters of history and experience that interpenetrate the trilogy, puts the

mechanism of network narration on prominent display, but the sequence is not

representative of the text's architecture. The nodal formation of the four anchoring

fragments rarely provides such a concise examination of one punctual moment with

such tight thematic clustering. More often, U.S.A. displays a more diffuse, more truly

constellar narration of a wide-ranging development in the United States' first decades of

the new century.

One of the more pronounced issues narrated across the breadth of the trilogy is

the development of the public relations industry. The impact of public relations is

demonstrated, in part, in the trajectory of the Newsreels across the trilogy. As Caren Irr

shows, the arc of the Newsreels moves from news-related headlines to the "want ads,

promotions of dancing lessons, celebrations of new auto parts" and other

advertisements that dominate The Big Money (53). The Camera Eye follows this

pattern, as brand recognition begins to enter the speaker's subjectivity: "walk the

streets and walk the streets inquiring of Coca-Cola signs Lucky Strike ads" (Dos

Passos, Big Money 118). Curiously, Dos Passos's biographical sketches do not feature

a founder of the PR field-someone like Ivy Lee or Edward Bernays would not have


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been surprising-but some of the later sketches do bear the suggestion of PR's

influence. Henry Ford's sketch, for example, opens with the glamorizing account by a

"featurewriter" whose profile of the auto magnate is equal parts advertisement for Ford

and for one of his automobile prototypes: "the machine certainly went with a dreamlike

smoothness. There was none of the bumping common even to a streetcar" (Dos

Passos, Big Money 38). Stabilizing those diffuse engagements with public relations in

the non-fictional modes is an anchoring thematization of PR across the character-

threads. The sketches of J. Ward Moorehouse, the father of PR in Dos Passos's

fictionalized America and one of many characters working in the field throughout U.S.A.,

are vital threads that establish the importance of PR in The 42nd Parallel. And while his

featured profiles expire with the first volume, Moorehouse has cameos in the profiles of

Joe Williams and Dick Savage in 1919 and of Charley Anderson and Dick Savage in

The Big Money-and these are but a few of the many characters who figure prominently

in the PR industry.

In both cases, the punctual event of Armistice Day and the development of public

relations, Dos Passos's strategy is a formal circumscription. His vision of U.S.A. is a

composite of these fragmentary perspectives performed by the four narrative modes.

But it is the cooperation, not the severance, of those fragments that is telling here. The

four modes of narration in U.S.A. are not merely perspectivism, as in Wallace Stevens's

famous "13 Ways of Seeing a Blackbird," nor are they interchangeable or divisible

vantage points from which to view American history. Rather, they cooperate as a

network to reflect the very networking of that history. For instead of a diaspora of

fragments performing abject disconnection, the structure of U.S.A. is a nodal one: one's


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reading of the Camera Eye in isolation imperils an understanding of Dos Passos's

attempt at formal totalization. The formal logic of U.S.A. transforms the modernist

aesthetic of fragmentation into a constellation of nodes, a network.

The buzzword that dominates the bulk of scholarship on U.S.A.'s form is montage,

and it is no accident that scholars have traditionally recognized Dos Passos's debt to

film. As is routinely observed, Dos Passos's Newsreels are reminiscent of the

newsreels edited by Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov in the Kino-Pravda series (1922-

25), and in naming one of his narrative modes The Camera Eye, Dos Passos invokes

Vertov's "kino-eye," an avant-garde philosophy of montage performed in Man with a

Movie Camera (1929). David Kadlec observes that by the mid-thirties Dos Passos's

debt to Vertov was an open secret and that Vertov was proud to be known for

influencing Dos Passos (307). Kadlec notes that many critics establish Dos Passos's

debt to Vertov in his 1928 tour of Moscow and Leningrad, when he attended some of

Vertov's screenings, which he preferred to "the grander, state-backed productions of

[Sergei] Eisenstien and Vsevolod Pudovkin" (307).

Montage remains a mainstay of U.S.A. criticism-so much so that many scholars

seem to feel compelled to integrate it into their arguments or argue against it when

addressing Dos Passos's formal invention. Celia Tichi, for example, grapples with that

tradition when arguing for the form's function as a machine: "the filmic montage is a

figure that does not go far enough to capture the full sense of Dos Passos's innovation

[....] Though Dos Passos identified his fiction with film and cinema and called his own

writing an intrinsically satisfying craft, his omniscient fictional form comes from the

contemporary model of machine and structural technology" (216). Irr, writing about the


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collisions that underlie U.S.A.'s performance of social speed, also obliges the issue of

montage, observing the many literal collisions in the narrative-of cars, airplanes, and

so on-before noting the logic of collision at the formal level: Dos Passos "constructs

montages whose organizing principle is the collision between these equally inadequate

modes of writing" (64). And in a more general way, montage is the figural metaphor

used to reconcile the text's tensions between fragmentation and totalization into a

system of formal experimentation.

The aesthetics of montage are a foundational scholarly force to be reckoned with,

as Tichi, Irr, and a host of other Dos Passos scholars can attest. Framing the trilogy in

terms of montage provides a helpful visual analogy for the text and rightly asserts Dos

Passos's debt to film, but it does not fully engage the logic of U.S.A.'s form. Instead,

what many readers understand as U.S.A.'s appropriation of montage techniques would

be better viewed as a development of networked figuration. It is not that "network" is a

substitution for "montage." Rather, an emphasis on networked aesthetics illuminates

the formal logic of montage, and provides a richer context for understanding Dos

Passos's formal experiments. In the montage experiments of modern film and even the

photography and advertisements that experimented with the new technology of the half-

tone press in the 1880s1, old meanings are overturned and new meanings are produced

by different techniques-sequential revolutions, overlays, split images, mirrored images,

and so on. The productive capacity of montage, according to traditional scholarship on

this practice, lies in the collisions it creates, in the violent contrast of juxtaposed images.



1 See Christopher Phillips's introduction to Montage and Modern Life, 1919-1942 (1992) pages 22-28 for
a more detailed account of the lineage and evolution of montage in the visual arts.


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This is the force of montage for Irr, who reads the four narrative modes as operating on

an organizational principle of collision.

A networked reading of montage, however, focuses not on the collisions, but on

the collaborative moments the technique facilitates. Such collaboration is, after all,

evoked in the Fordist metaphor of the "four-way conveyor system." The four modes of

narration are distinct, to be sure, but they produce meaning in their collaborative-not

colliding or disjunctural-narration of history, as in the networked narration of Armistice

Day and other developments and events that fall under the trilogy's scope. Accordingly,

Dos Passos's narrative system performs Fordism, producing meaning not by violent

juxtaposition but by the cooperation of separate functions that are simultaneously

isolated and integrated, nodal and networked. Denning argues that Dos Passos's "four-

way conveyor system" is an "aesthetic Taylorism" that may be as much a symptom as it

is a critique of rationalized labor (170). But if we view this narrative architecture in terms

of production instead of management, then Fordist subsegmentation comes to the fore

and we can understand how the four narrative modes cooperate.

U.S.A.'s narration has the multi-dimensional force of montage, but the logic of its

productive capacity is fundamentally different from the theories and practices of

montage that rely on collision. Disjunctural montage and networked montage both

operate on a constellar model, but networked montage has the separate goal of

totalization-a goal that is announced in the very title of Dos Passos's trilogy. And this

networked montage may be a uniquely American intervention. Christopher Phillips

argues that, in contrast to the European and Russian experiments with montage, by the

late 1930s in the United States, "montage was more and more recognized not as a


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means to evoke the flux and discontinuity of the modern world, but as a way to

represent a dominant social theme in late-Depression America: the idea of the 'unity in

diversity' of all classes and ethnic groups" (35). Phillips responds to American trends in

the visual arts, but Dos Passos's interventions into montage follow the same path,

emphasizing the networked interdependence of the separate narrative modes instead of

their dispersal. Such an adoption of European and Russian montage into the contexts

of American film, and into Dos Passos's trilogy, demonstrates the uniquely American

dialectic of modernist narrative, balancing the polarities of fragmentation and totalization

with the mediating figure of the network.

A networked reading of U.S.A. demonstrates Dos Passos's formal logic and allows

us to recognize the points of interconnection between the trilogy's four narrative modes.

Moreover, it allows us to read in U.S.A. the playing out of the cultural logic of American

modernism. It is no longer sufficient to observe that Dos Passos's representational

strategy of the "four-way conveyor system" fits neatly into one of the now-standard

narratives for modernism-that the moderns' revolt against verisimilitude was

necessitated by rapid social changes that demanded radically new means of

representation-or simply that it borrows montage techniques from avant-garde film.

Instead, we must begin fitting U.S.A. into a narrative for the emergence of the network

as the dominant figure of aesthetic experiments in high modernism.

U.S.A.: The United Six-Degrees Of America

Next to his radical formal innovation with the "four-way conveyor system," the

interconnectivity of Dos Passos's content may seem tame-a cliche commonplace of

contemporary film and television. Not only had characterological networking already

been explored by others in the modern period, but Dos Passos himself had


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experimented with it in Manhattan Transfer, his sprawling ode to New York City

published in 1925. Ludington reminds us that in many ways, the fictional element of

U.S.A.'s "reportages of the time" remained at the core of Dos Passos's vision: the

trilogy would be "not a novel, but a series covering a lengthy period, 'in which characters

appeared and reappeared'" (256). Indeed, if one node of the narrative structure

weighed just a bit more than others for Dos Passos, it would be the character threads:

"Despite incorporating nonfiction, his ultimate aim 'was always to produce fiction,' and

he thought himself 'sort of on the edge between them, moving from one field to the

other very rapidly.' The series of reportages was to be 'a contemporary commentary on

history's changes, always as seen by some individual's ears, felt by some individual's

nerves and tissues'" (Ludington 256). Again, Dos Passos aimed to transmit the

historical content of the period through the networked body of characters.

The architectural networking of the form is matched in the networking of the

content, with individual characters refracting the developments of Dos Passos's

"reportages." In this respect, the fictional characters serve as secondary nodes under

the primary nodal construction of U.S.A.'s form, providing a comfortable fictional body

through which the historical and social developments resonate. In The 42nd Parallel, J.

Ward Moorehouse is the figural manifestation of the developments in public relations,

as we saw above, and several others like G.H. Barrow and Dick Savage carry that

banner throughout the remainder of the trilogy. Joe Williams figures the tumultuous war

years in 1919, and Ben Compton does the same for labor movements during that

period. Charley Anderson and Margo Dowling figure the "roar" of the debt-fueled

Roaring Twenties throughout The Big Money. And the other key character-threads


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generally perform the same function, reinforcing the reportages' historical commentary

with a handy synechdochal figuration of the major developments in American history.

And so the individual characters act as another system of nodes that support the four-

way conveyor system's networked narration of American history.

Within the fictional narrative mode, the individual characters are nodally connected

to each other-not just to the broader networking schemes of U.S.A.'s formal approach

to narration. Dos Passos's goal of a trilogy traversing a wide span of time "in which

characters appeared and reappeared" means that U.S.A. takes a narrative structure

that is increasingly common in contemporary narrative production: the six-degrees

theorem. Under the totalizing network of vast schemes of American history performed

by the "four-way conveyor system" lies this secondary network of crisscrossing

characters.

But for many scholars these characters' relationships remain a jumble of

disconnection. Michael Denning, for example, writes that the organizing principle of the

fictional narration is disaggregation-a critique that was common among the trilogy's

contemporary reviewers:

Perhaps the most striking thing and unsettling aspect of U.S.A. is the lack of
any coherent connection between the characters: no family or set of
families constitutes the world of the novel; no town, no neighborhood, or city
serves as a knowable community; no industry of business, no university or
film colony unites public and private lives; and no plot, murder, or
inheritance links the separate destinies. (182)

And for that reason, Denning concludes that the fundamental social unit of U.S.A. is a

cocktail party, a function that, he argues, marks the climax of each of the three volumes.

The cocktail party, he writes, "stands as a substitute for narratives of home and family,

an alternative to the domestic space that usually organizes the novel [....] In U.S.A., the


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party is not only a social structure and a symbolic space, it is a narrative kernel, one of

the basic building blocks of the novel" (Denning 183). To whatever extent the

characters interrelate, Denning argues, their fundamental disconnections override the

ligatures that hold them together.

Denning's attempt to read this disaggregation in the locus of the cocktail party is

warranted, given the profile of literal cocktail parties in the culmination of each volume

and in the aura of socialite Eveline Hutchins, and given the figurative cocktail party of

"illassorted people"-to use one of Hutchins's phrases-who have but little in common

throughout the trilogy (Dos Passos, Big Money 444). And it is a reading to which I am

sympathetic, as it serviceably addresses the lack of organic connections throughout the

trilogy. But Denning's reading does not go far enough in explaining the logic of the

characters' connections. To impose such a "substitute for narratives of home and

family" to organize the fictional characters of U.S.A. is a false projection of a traditionally

ordered narrative. Instead, making sense of that disaggregation on its own terms is

precisely the demand placed on readers by Dos Passos's trilogy.

If one is grasping for a handy figure to reconcile the characters who appear and

reappear, who gather and diverge, whose connections to each other are so often

mediated by third parties, one need look no further than the network. Let us consider

the case of one of the trilogy's most colorful characters, Doc Bingham. Never does

Bingham enjoy the spotlight of a chapter titled after his name. Instead, we only see him

through the character-threads "Mac" in The 42nd Parallel and "Richard Ellsworth

Savage" in The Big Money. His appearance alongside Fenian "Mac" McCreary is brief,

but memorable. Mac answers a want-ad listed for The Truthseeker Literary Distributing


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Co., Inc. by Emmanuel R. Bingham, D.D. They travel the countryside, posing as

purveyors of moral pamphlets but are quick to advertise other, less pious wares:

Bingham stocks such scandalous tracts as The Queen of the White Slaves and tells one

mark, "We have a number of very interesting books stating the facts of life frankly and

freely, describing the deplorable licentiousness of life in the big cities, ranging from a

dollar to five dollars. The Complete Sexology of Dr. Burnside, is six fifty" (Dos Passos,

42nd 36). The con is up, however, when Bingham is caught in bed with a patron's wife

and abandons Mac to fend for himself. He does not resurface until deep into The Big

Money, when Dick Savage is assigned to handle a public relations account for

Bingham, now going by "E.R. Bingham," whose latest scam involves alternative

medication and diets-regimes we might label "new age" today. Again, the con man's

appearance is fleeting. Bingham, the advocate of clean living, convinces Savage to

escort him around some of the city's seedy sex districts and eventually grants him the

account. His only subsequent appearance in the text is indirect, as Savage and the

Moorehouse PR firm lobby food legislation on his behalf and arrange favorable publicity

on radio and newsreels-though not, I should clarify, the Newsreels of the

complementary narrative mode.

In many ways, Bingham's reemergence is completely frivolous-the kind of detail

common in characterological networks that for some smacks of contrivance, and that for

Denning smacks of disaggregation. Bingham's tenuous links to primary figures like Mac

and Dick Savage provide evidence for Denning's concern over disaggregation, as he

has no family or community ties to bind him to other characters. In fact, his wandering

lifestyle may make Bingham one of the most fully disaggregated of all of U.S.A.'s


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characters. And his social isolation is reinforced by his complete marginalization from

the plots of the trilogy's fictional modes: Bingham is unnecessary to demonstrate

Savage's loyalty to the Moorehouse firm and the degradation to which he falls, which

one might assume are Dos Passos's primary goals in dragging Savage through strip

clubs and Bingham's incessant claptrap. But if the frequency of such tangential

crisscrossing is any indication, the network of relationships-Mac to Bingham to Savage

to Moorehouse to Charley Anderson, and so on-is the important discovery that Dos

Passos wants to reinforce with characters like Bingham. As I suggested earlier, that

very networking is the basic unit of social organization within the fictional mode of

narration, and its replacement of "narratives of home and family" that traditionally

organize the novel makes for an important reconception of the nation-one that

decentralizes the national space to rearticulate notions of community, rootedness, and

belonging.

A major aspect of that networked conceptualization is the contingency that runs

throughout the fictional narrative mode. The appearances and reappearances, the

meetings and departures-these nodal connections tend to take place by chance.

Besides Dick Savage's connection to Bingham, one might study the contingent

crossings of G.H. Barrow with "Mac" McCreary, stenographer Janey Williams, Dick

Savage, the wandering Anne Elizabeth "Daughter" Trent, labor advocate Mary French,

activist Ben Compton, and aspiring actress Margo Dowling-an improbably wide and

inclusive social circle to travel in. Or, to belabor the point with one particularly rich case

with a more concrete locus, at the last of Eveline Hutchins's cocktail parties-indeed,

the party that concludes The Big Money-Mary French briefly glimpses Margo Dowling.


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French's profile thus far has centered on her social activism through Hull House and her

advocacy for Sacco and Vanzetti, and Dowling has been something of a foil character,

self-involved and materialistic in her fervent pursuit of stardom. The connection is a

fleeting one: "Mary saw a small woman with blue eyelids and features regular as those

of a porcelain doll under a mass of paleblond hair turn for a second to smile at

somebody before she went out through the sliding doors" (Dos Passos, Big Money

442). Mary and Margo are not introduced, and have really no awareness of each other,

but readers recognize Margo's description and register the flash of connection that

sparks at the cocktail party.

The very lack of intimacy in this last connection gets to the heart of what many

criticize as disorganization, disaggregation, or atomization in the fictional narrative

mode. Without a shared community of place or work, without a common relation to an

ongoing plot, and without so much as an introduction, it is hard to see any connection

between Mary and Margo. In fact, the only thing they have in common is Eveline

Hutchins, their mediating link. This dearth of intimacy gets to the issue of knowability,

the lack of which Denning finds so troubling. It is true: whatever connections there are

between these characters, there is rarely enough to constitute a knowable community.

Even in the case of family, most characters carry a high degree of estrangement: Joe

Williams, Dick Savage, "Daughter" Trent, Ben Compton, Charley Anderson, Margo

Dowling, Mary French-nearly all of the major characters are deeply alienated from

their families in some way or another. And in the absence of any knowable community

to assemble these characters, one might not be completely mistaken to conclude that

contingency is the organizing principle of the social in the fictional narration.


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It is a mistake, however, to read the shortages of intimacy and knowability as

constituting a narrative of dispersal. Instead, the fictional mode of U.S.A. insists on the

interconnectivity of its networked characters, and while those relationships may lack

profundity, the abundance of such connective chains demonstrates Dos Passos's

totalizing impulse. As with the fragmented narration of U.S.A.'s form, the characters in

the fictional mode of narration are best understood as polarities of a dialectical tension

between dispersal and unity-a tension mediated by the networks that connect the

characters and the polarities themselves.

Moreover, the fleeting encounter between Mary and Margo demonstrates the

important work of characterological networks as a conceptual tool. Precisely because

these characters are not linked by "narratives of home and family," or by broader

institutions such as class or ethnicity, their relations hold forth a flattening of the social

sphere. In other words, absent of relational determinants, these characters mix freely

and are able to invent new affiliations and new social formations. It is hard to imagine

another context in which a lowly labor activist like Mary could inhabit the same space as

a rising star like Margo. Thus Eveline's dedication to gathering together "illassorted

people"-bourgeois as it is in her practice-also carries the potential of creating new

groups that her politics cannot control and that might well subvert hierarchies of class,

race, work, and gender in ways that she might not imagine. None of this is to say that

characterological networks of "illassorted people" reliably produce new affiliations, as

Denning's concerns about disaggregation indicate. But such networks of characters

insist on the possibility of new social formations rising out of radically flattened social

bodies.


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Recognizing the stabilization of these diasporic figures into a network is key to

understanding the connective logic that prevails in U.S.A. and that is the defining

strategy of Dos Passos's magnum opus. To say that these characters do not realize

their interconnection is not to say that they are, in fact, disconnected. The feelings of

alienation are undeniable, especially regarding relations to their families, but it is also

clear that Dos Passos strives to show their networked interrelations to the reader. This

networked reading not only resolves misgivings one might have concerning the

disaggregation of Dos Passos's fictional characters, but it also aligns the project of his

fictional content with that of his formal experiment that organizes the trilogy's four

modes of narration. Above all, a networked reading of U.S.A. enables us to perceive

the interconnections that do take place in the absence of ligatures such as place or

family. It would be unsound to label these relationships intimate or knowable, but it

would be equally unjustified to claim that Dos Passos has nothing but "illassorted

people" populating his fictional scene. Instead, recognizing the networking of these

characters enables readers of U.S.A. to grasp the social scale theorized by Dos

Passos, one that holds out the potential for radically new means of social affiliation.

Networks Of History

The U.S.A. trilogy's double register of networks-at the formal level of the "four-

way conveyor system," and at the level of content in the characterological networks of

the fictional mode-provides one artifact of the moderns' attempt to grapple with the

defining tension of the period, the dialectic of unity and dispersal, totality and fragment.

Dos Passos's use of the network provides an alternative to those polarities that could

rethink national space in response to dramatic changes initiated by the modern period's

social, economic, and technological developments. Alongside similar projects to rethink


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national space and the organization of national community via the figure of the network

from intellectuals like Randolph Bourne, and alongside technological developments

such as the radio that compelled Americans to rethink their interconnections to each

other, Dos Passos's trilogy underscores the cultural logic of modernism and the

importance of networked figuration to bridge its two polarities. And as a marker of

intellectual history, U.S.A. makes a unique intervention into network thinking, inscribing

the central dialectical tension of modernism onto the very work of historical analysis.

Aside from its radical formal innovation, U.S.A.'s intervention is derived from Dos

Passos's use of the network as a conceptual tool not only to imagine new formations of

the national space, but also to rethink the work of history. For Denning, the meat of Dos

Passos's narrative architecture is history itself-a reasonable assertion given Dos

Passos's conception of the trilogy as "a series of reportages of the time." Denning

argues that each mode of narration, each node of U.S.A.'s formal network, corresponds

to a certain mode of history: the Newsreels are a sort of "public history," the Camera

Eye performs the work of "memory," the biographical sketches offer a "grand narrative"

of the period, and the character-threads narrate "a tale of capital" (170-72). This

formulation works especially well for Denning's argument that U.S.A. narrates the

decline and fall of the Lincoln republic, but it would be myopic to assume that this

narrational strategy applies only to the content of U.S.A.'s study.

Denning's reading of U.S.A.'s narrative architecture obtains if one is reading the

trilogy as a kind of historical documentary, but I want to argue that the ramifications of

U.S.A.'s network narration is more complex. Looking at this complexity means teasing

out the specific kinds of work performed by each of Dos Passos's "four-way conveyors."


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The Newsreels, as Irr has shown, turn more and more from news reporting to

advertisements. The role of the Camera Eye is progressively diminished-there are

twenty-seven in The 42nd Parallel, fifteen in 1919, and only nine in The Big Money-

showing a demotion of the importance of interiority throughout the trilogy. The

character-threads follow a movement toward decay and corruption, with The Big Money

marking a finale of failures: Charley Anderson dies of peritonitis, Margo Dowling cannot

make the jump into talkies and is headed for obscurity, Dick Savage prepares to take

over J. Ward Moorehouse's PR firm in a sign of his own cultural bankruptcy, and Mary

French is so disillusioned with her social work that she considers suicide. The

biographical sketches chart a similar path, progressively focusing less on thinkers,

inventors, and labor heroes, and more on monopolists and captains of industry.

The correspondence of the narrative modes' trajectories toward a state of ruins

demonstrates that they share a common project-what Denning would call the narration

of the decline and fall of the Lincoln republic. But it takes another step to discern what

exactly each narrative mode is doing to advance that project. The Newsreels ruminate

on the problem of the apparatus of culture and its complicity in the rise of a new

consumer society. The Camera Eye focuses on subjectivity, and illustrates its

diminishment in an age of reification. The character-threads narrate the struggles of

workers, though it would be hard to characterize all of them as working-class given the

diversity of work performed by the various figures. And the biographical sketches act as

figurations of the ruling class, as captains of industry ascend over inventors, thinkers,

and artists to become the "great men" of the period. In each case, the narrative mode

operates within the boundaries of one corner or another of the politics of capital. In


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other words, U.S.A.'s networks are not only concerned with American history in the

early twentieth century, but moreover with the very project of historical-materialist

analysis.

Such an approach to the study of history is not without precedent among Dos

Passos's contemporaries. Walter Benjamin, ever committed to the figuration of the

constellation, explores the constellar nature of history in several of his later works. For

example, in "Theses on the Philosophy of History," written shortly before his tragic

suicide, Benjamin writes,

Historicism contents itself with establishing a causal connection between
various moments in history. But no fact that is a cause is for that very
reason historical. It became historical posthumously, as it were, through
events that may be separated from it by thousands of years. A historian
who takes this as his point of departure stops telling the sequence of events
like the beads of a rosary. Instead, he grasps the constellation which his
own era has formed with a definite earlier one. (263)

In other words, the study of history is not the ossification of a continuum of inevitable

events, but a study of the breaks and disjunctures of history as well as the ligatures that

give it shape. That understanding of historicism is also evident in The Arcades Project,

the posthumously published exercise in what Benjamin described as "literary montage."

Drawing on the networked constitution of montage, Benjamin calls for a constellar

methodology of historicism to take root in the Marxist tradition:

The first stage in this undertaking will be to carry over the principle of
montage into history. That is, to assemble large-scale constructions out of
the smallest and most precisely cut components. Indeed, to discover in the
analysis of the small individual moment, the crystal of the total event. And,
therefore, to break with vulgar historical naturalism. To grasp the
construction of history as such. (Arcades 461)

Again, Benjamin's program is to conceive of history not as a linear narrative of progress,

but as a constellar assembly of various paths taken and abandoned across time. It is a


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conception of history that is symptomatic of the dialectic of modernism in its refusal of a

monolithic narrative of history, and in its reliance on networked figuration to mediate that

falsely unified narrative linearity.

One might add that such a conceptualization of history carried a similar appeal for

both Dos Passos and Benjamin. As a rejection of linear inevitability, this model of

history turns the focus of study to alternate paths that might have been taken-a sort of

counterfactual that would have appealed to Dos Passos in his lament for the Lincoln

republic, or to Benjamin in his despair at the rise of Fascism in Europe. U.S.A. never

indulges in outright counterfactual fantasy, as the ultimate state of ruination and failure

of the Lincoln republic demonstrates. But Dos Passos's commitment to the

heterogeneity of history gestures toward the different routes the U.S. could have taken:

it is not only the story of Margo Dowling's empty self-interest as an entertainer, but also

that of Mary French's commitment to solidarity in her advocacy for Sacco and Vanzetti

and miners' strikes. Benjamin's constellar method of historicism means honoring these

paths and others as equally viable elements of a networked system.

Moreover, it would be wrong to conclude that a networked model of historicism

appeals only to history's "losers" taking refuge from historical narratives elevating

"victors" whom they abhor. Instead, a networked model of historical analysis gets at the

texture of history, and privileges the myriad nature of experience over the post-hoc

nature of narrativization that tries to boil history down to a single, linear narrative thread.

That commitment to the texture and multitudinousness of history drives U.S.A.'s work as

a "series of reportages of the time." And the rejection of linear history proposed by

Benjamin is reflected in the trilogy's rejection of narrative linearity in favor of a Fordist


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model of subsegmentation-a model not only of narration, but of historicism, given Dos

Passos's investment in representing the history of the early twentieth century. And it is

precisely this result of U.S.A.'s networked aesthetics that marks Dos Passos's

intervention into network thinking. A networked reading of U.S.A. illuminates not only

the politics of the trilogy's use of networks to mediate the dialectical impulses to

totalization and fragmentation, but also the politics that U.S.A. locates as intrinsic to the

network itself. For the work of Dos Passos's network is precisely that of historical-

materialist analysis.

U.S.A.'s generic contributions to the network narrative are noteworthy, as they

balance the fragment and totality at both the level of form and content. But Dos

Passos's use of the network as a conceptual tool to think the operations of history is

equally telling. From this networked model of historicism, U.S.A. derives the depth of

texture that gives the text its vividness and strength of insight in narrating the U.S's.

rocky entry into the twentieth century. But moreover that networked model inscribes

onto historical analysis the central dialectical tension of American modernism, setting

history as a field of play between the polarities of unity and dispersal.


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CHAPTER 5
NATHANAEL WEST'S THE DAY OF THE LOCUST

It is fitting that for a figure so committed to the art of self-fashioning, the fiction of

Nathanael West has so regularly been subjected to the currents of criticism across the

various periods of the last century. After all, this is the Nathanael West who would

change his name from Nathan Weinstein in order to evoke a genteel New Englander air

and suppress the Jewish identity that caused him anxiety; who would forge a high

school transcript for admission to Tufts; who would hijack the transcript of a Tufts

classmate named Nathan Weinstein for admission to Brown.

And given these acts of authorial self-fashioning, it seems appropriate that the

works themselves have been fashioned by critics to meet the needs of their own

periods. When West died in 1940, a mere twenty-four hours after F. Scott Fitzgerald's

death, the few obituaries that marked his passing reflected his neglect by the critics of

the day. His age was routinely misreported, the titles of his works bungled, the name of

his wife confused with his sister-in-law's. And while his obituaries were littered with

erroneous details, they were also completely overshadowed by the coverage of

Fitzgerald's death. Such was West's literary stature at the time of his passing.

Beginning with the 1957 edition of his Complete Works, West was put to use in the

service of late modernist antagonism toward popular culture. Rita Barnard argues that

the heyday of West scholarship from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies "depended in

good measure on a particular interpretation of his work: one that casts his writing as a

battle between art and the cheap cliches and disorder of mass culture, a battle from

which art emerges victorious. The value of West's novels, in such readings, transcends

and solves the problem of the vacuous and vicious culture represented in them" (10). A


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resurgence of interest in West in the 1990s-keyed by scholarship by Barnard, Caren

Irr, Robert Seguin and Jonathan Veitch, as well as by the 1997 Library of America

collection of West's fiction and letters edited by Sacvan Bercovitch-places West in

proximity to, if not quite in the mainstream of, the tradition of cultural radicalism in his

criticisms of the massified consumer society.

What has remained constant throughout these fashionings of West is the

recognition of his commitment to conceptualizing the crowd-a figure that I argue is a

key component of American modernists' engagement with networked representational

models. In West's case, the crowd is often entangled with the more abstracted figure of

the masses, which in his renderings also takes on a networked constitution. West's

sustained interest in the masses is not the mark of a Party-line proletarian novelist, as

he was mostly ambivalent in his political commitments, but it does indicate a career-long

interest in new forms of social organization that were emerging during the modern

period. West's project has been read in terms of countervailing political investments

according to the critical-political milieu of different periods, and within that ongoing

discussion I want to call attention to the networked nature with which West represents

the crowd and the masses. For never in West is either figure a monolithic, uniform

fused group. Instead, West represents the crowd, and with an allegorical remove the

masses as well, as a network of diverse interests and actors.

West's own stance on the subject of crowds is ambiguous and elusive, frustrating

any readings that would have him either celebrate or abhor the social potential of

crowds. And complicating that ambiguity is his fiction's messy conflation of crowd and

masses that often associated the political subjectivity of the masses with the putatively


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violent behavioral characteristics of the crowd-a trait that was symptomatic of the way

many modernists tended to conceptualize the possibilities of spontaneous public

aggregation and the related issues of mass culture. Thinking about West's crowds as a

networked body helps readers bypass the typical politicized binary of crowds-that they

are either a revolutionary force of progress or a revolting force of vulgarity. This is

particularly useful in West's case, given that that tension may be fundamentally

irresolvable in his fiction. In other words, thinking about these crowds as networks

allows us to focus not on the crowd's content, but its form. Or, to put it still another way,

an emphasis on networks enables us to think not about what a crowd is, but what it

does as a representation of the social. As a networked social body, the crowd stages a

crucial mediation of modernism's dialectic of homogeneity and atomization, providing a

concise figure that negotiates the cultural logic of modernism.

Beyond being networked social bodies, West's crowds envision a mode of group

formation modeled on connectivity, if not quite fully on collectivity. Accordingly, West's

networked crowds and masses hold forth a truly democratic potential-though it is a

democratization that for West is to be neither glorified nor regarded with horror. And in

addition to West's deployment of the networked crowd as a figuration of potential social

formations, his rendering of the masses suggests another critical stage in the moderns'

development of network thinking that, due to the general diminishment of public space

over the twentieth century, marks a form of networked theorization that is largely absent

from the contemporary field of network thinking, further marking the unique modes of

network aesthetics in modernism as well as the dialectical tensions of the period that

conditioned them.


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Le Bon's Temps, Or "The Era Of Crowds"

Published in May of 1939, The Day of the Locust received modest reviews.

Among the reviews there was room for disagreement on the quality of West's prose,

appraisals of the novel's surrealist traits, Hollywood polemics, and so on, but almost

uniformly reviewers would note the text's apocalyptic finale, the crowd scene at a

Hollywood premiere that remains most closely associated with West's artistic legacy.

Precisely what that crowd scene meant, however, was up for debate. George Milburn,

reviewing for the Saturday Review of Literature, noted the vividness of the final scene:

"the book ends on a crescendo, narrating what happens in a mob gathered for a

Hollywood premiere, a picture of an American Walpurgis Eve that must make anyone

who reads it feel that he was there, too, and remember it as vividly" (68). A reviewer for

Time lamented that the crowd scene simply caps off a "screwball grotesque" that

demonstrates how West can "barely distinguish fantastic shadows from fantastic

substance" (69). Writing for the New Republic, Edmund Wilson found resonance in

West's characterization of the frustrated masses: "Such people [...] may in the mass be

capable of anything. The daydreaming purveyed by Hollywood, the easy romances that

always run true to form, only cheat and exacerbate their frustration" (73). Wilson's

review hints at the allegorical reading of this scene that would become the standard:

that the crowd figures the masses in their ugliest, most violent potentials.

The scene at the premiere, after all, complemented the uniquely modern sense

that the crowd was becoming the central unit of social organization. Urbanization was

more often talked about in terms of human density than in terms of infrastructure.

Americans experienced the entertainments emerging at the turn of the century-

amusement parks, baseball parks, and of course movie palaces-as inextricably public,


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crowded spaces. And the milieu was conducive to spontaneous aggregations as well.

In The Great Crash, 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith, the Keynesian economist and

advisor to Kennedy, details the crowds gathering outside the New York Stock Exchange

on Black Thursday-an appropriately apocalyptic setting to rival West's. The crowd

formed in part because of a failure in network technology: the stock tickers had fallen

hours behind because of the volume of trading, creating uncertainty as to just how badly

the market was crashing and taking investors' hopes and dreams with it. Galbraith

details the event:

Outside the Exchange in Broad Street a weird roar could be heard. A
crowd gathered. Police Commissioner Grover Whalen became aware that
something was happening and dispatched a special police detail to Wall
Street to insure the peace. More people came and waited, though
apparently no one new for what. A workman appeared atop one of the high
buildings to accomplish some repairs, and the multitude assumed he was a
would-be suicide and waited impatiently for him to jump. Crowds also
formed around the branch offices of brokerage firms throughout the city
and, indeed, throughout the country. Word of what was happening, or what
was thought to be happening, was passed out by those who were within
sight of the board or the Trans-Lux. (104-05)

The ominous "weird roar" and the fact that the observers seemed to have no idea what

they were gathering for must have made for a great deal of concern on the ground.

What were these people gathering to do? Was it information they were after? Or

rubbernecking? Or was riot on their minds? I relate the story, however, not to

underscore the simmering menace of such crowds, but to emphasize its spontaneity:

crowds during the modernist period could come and go without any coordination

whatsoever-a stark contrast to public gatherings today, and a tendency that, for many

observers, gave the crowd a charge of dreadful unpredictability.

Further complicating the early readings of West's apocalyptic crowd scene was the

long shadow cast by Gustav Le Bon, the French sociologist and social psychologist


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whose seminal text The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind predicted in 1895 that the

new century would usher in an "era of crowds." One can argue, as Robert Nye does in

The Origins of Crowd Psychology (1975), that Le Bon worked in the specifically French

situation of responses both to alleged failings of the French Republic and to democratic

political theory. But Le Bon's work pervaded western thought about crowds during the

modern period. In a way, confining Le Bon's work to France would be like limiting Freud

to the contexts of German sexuality and intellectual history-as if he had no broader

influence. Le Bon's proclamation of the crowded twentieth century was fairly

commonplace-Mary Esteve reminds us of passing remarks from Friedrich Nietzsche,

who in Beyond Good and Evil (1886) referred to "the century of the crowd," and William

James, whose preface to The Principles of Psychology (1890) characterized the turn of

the century as "this crowded age" (2)-but Le Bon's intervention left a wake that took

many decades of work on crowd theorization to overturn. For Le Bon's diagnosis of the

crowded century focused not on emergent trends of urbanization or immigration, but

instead advanced two foundational fallacies of the crowd, its makeup, and its

relationship to society.

First, Le Bon posits the crowd as a completely monolithic, uniform body. His

fundamental premise is that in a crowd each individual yields her consciousness to the

fused consciousness of the crowd. He writes:

Under certain given circumstances, and only those circumstances an
agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from
those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the
persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their
conscious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed, doubtless
transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics. (Le Bon 23-
24)


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From that premise, Le Bon proceeds to explain how the crowd's "collective mind"

demonstrates what today we would call "mob mentality"-a singular movement toward a

shared goal that for Le Bon was often tinged with ideas of heredity akin to the tenets of

scientific racism. What is important to observe here is not the results of the collective

mind, but that it acts as a completely homogenous unit with no internal diversification.

Second, Le Bon pursues a pernicious conflation of crowds and the masses-a

conflation that could later be extrapolated to the relationship between the crowd and the

emergent mass culture. Le Bon's "clearly defined characteristics" of the crowd's

collective mind almost always demonstrate a barbarism that is projected from the

crowd's collective mindset onto the behavior of the masses. For example, in one

passage Le Bon writes:

Crowds are only powerful for destruction. Their rule is always tantamount
to a barbarian phase. A civilisation involves fixed rules, discipline, a
passing from the instinctive to the rational state, forethought for the future,
an elevated degree of culture-all of them conditions that crowds, left to
themselves, have invariably shown themselves incapable of realising [....]
When the structure of a civilisation is rotten, it is always the masses that
bring about its downfall. (18)

The slippage from crowd to masses is a critical one in Le Bon's analysis. It is patently

absurd that the masses, a term Le Bon uses in reference to the working classes and to

ethnic minorities, would be equated to the behavioral characteristics of a crowd.

Nevertheless much of Le Bon's argument hinges on just this association. The terms are

disentangled easily enough: a crowd is a locally experienced spontaneous social

formation, whereas the masses are an abstractly imagined social body. But the legacy

of their conflation in scholarship and in literature is so pervasive that maintaining the

terms' autonomy in this paper may prove an insurmountable challenge-though a


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challenge at the very least worth observing by way of marking Le Bon's widespread

influence.

Neither of these fallacies were the sole markers of crowd thinking when The Day

of the Locust arrived in 1939-another moment when attention was turned to thinking

the crowd and the masses in the light of the spread of Fascism in Europe. Russ

Castronovo, for example, argues against the universality of Le Bon's position on crowds

among turn-of-the-century scholars. Castronovo shows that progressive sociologists

recognized the democratizing potential of crowds as well as their destructive, irrational

capacities, and he points to the pioneering American sociologist Robert Park, whose

1904 dissertation "invests collective frenzy and rational public opinion equally with the

potential of social transformation" (94-96). Nevertheless, Le Bon's contributions to

crowd theory certainly colored the reception of West's apocalyptic crowd scene. Surely

Le Bon's work underlies George Milburn's invocation of an "American Walpurgis Eve" or

Edmund Wilson's eerie warning that such a social formation may "be capable of

anything." But the climactic scene from The Day of the Locust-part of a common

project notably advanced in A Cool Million, his 1934 novella-defies association with Le

Bon's theories of the crowd's homogeneity and its direct equation with the masses.

Instead, West's figuration of the crowd takes the shape of the network and imagines

social formations that would flatten institutional barriers like class and ethnicity. Before

we examine the apocalyptic crowd scene from West's final novel, I want to consider an

earlier work to study the continuity of his networked representation of the crowd and his

treatment of the slippage from crowd to masses. This survey will illustrate the


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interventions into crowd theory that West makes, largely in contrast to Le Bon's

positions.

Cool Crowds: Democratic Form, Fascist Content

West's interest in crowds and the masses appears throughout his works,

demonstrating a sustained interest in new modes of social organization that were just

appearing during the modern era. However, the novel A Cool Million: The Dismantling

of Samuel Pitkin (1934) bears scrutiny for its strictly politicized crowds. Equally as

volatile as the crowds of The Day of the Locust, the crowds of A Cool Million offer a note

of counterpoint to the political ambiguity of West's more famous work, with a social

aggregation that is clearly malevolent and unmistakably politicized in its parody of

Fascism.

West's representation of the masses in A Cool Million indicates a great deal of

anxiety over the ease with which the masses may be manipulated. And this is a

concern that also bears a relationship to the crowd, the traditional figural rendering of

Fascism's seduction of the masses. Published in 1934 to tepid reviews that failed to

make sense of its break from the aesthetics of Miss Lonelyhearts, the first novella West

published in 1933, A Cool Million is what Michael Denning pithily refers to as an

"inverted Horatio Alger tale" (244). Indeed, as Douglas Shepard and Gary Sharnhorst

have shown, West's homage to Alger borders on outright plagiarism, mimicking not only

character and plot sequences, but also providing near-perfect matches of sentences

and paragraphs.1 In that respect, it certainly is a tale of the delusion of the masses by



1 See Shepard's "Nathanael West Re-writes Horatio Alger, Jr.," Satire Newsletter 3, no. 1 (1965) and
Sharnhorst's "From Rags to Patches, or A Cool Million as Alter-Alger," Ball State University Forum 21, no.
4 (1980). Also, for an argument against West's pastiche, see Aaron Talbot's "Fabricating the Fake


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the impossible, mythical success narrative. On his quest to make millions, young

Lemuel meets setback after setback, each leaving him further from material gain than

before: he is ripped off by con men several times; a case of mistaken identity lands him

in jail and further depletes his wealth; he is pressed into service as a homosexual sex

slave, which results in his arrest, a shakedown by a public attorney, a plea deal, and his

release to the streets, penniless. And those financial calamities reflect the bodily

deformations he endures along the way-the removal of his teeth, the loss of an eye,

the amputations of a thumb and a leg, and even a scalping. For every step Lemuel

takes toward the American dream of wealth and leisure, he seems to take several more

back to poverty and infirmity.

But while A Cool Million is a tale of the deception of the masses by the bootstraps

mythos, it is also a tale of the American masses becoming duped into Fascism. While

he sinks into the underworld of crime and extreme poverty, Lemuel becomes

acquainted with a distinctly Fascist impulse circulating among the breadlines of the

Depression. It is Nathan "Shagpoke" Whipple, the former president from Lemuel's

hometown whom Rita Barnard describes as "a Calvin Coolidge turned fascist" (149),

who first sends Lemuel out into the world on the promise of American opportunity

maxims. But Lemuel meets him again years later after Whipple has fallen on hard

times, as he stands outside a Salvation Army canteen drumming up support for his new

organization: "the National Revolutionary Party, popularly known as the 'Leather

Shirts'" (West, Million 172). Whipple espouses a populism that is an unmistakable

parody of Fascism, and it is no accident that the bulk of the scenes addressing this

Shoddy: Nathanael West's Parody of Horatio Alger, Jr." from the dissertation, "Peculiar Information,
Particular Friends: How American Literature and Culture Know Horatio Alger, Jr.".


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parody center on two crowd gatherings-each of which demonstrates the manipulation

of crowd and masses in the march toward Fascism.

The first notable manipulation of the crowd features Whipple's ability to influence a

strictly delimited group of people. Working for a traveling freak show that doubles as a

Communist propaganda organ, Whipple finds an opportunity to advance the Leather

Shirts' campaign at a stop in the South. He exhorts a crowd of white males to rebel

against the propagandizing leader of the traveling show, and is met with a

disproportionately violent response as the crowd disperses, "shout[ing] 'Lynch him!

Lynch him! Although a good three-quarters of its members did not know whom it was

they were supposed to lynch" (West, Million 228). From here, the crowd's violence

spreads in a grisly comedy of errors: "Another section of Shagpoke's audience, made

up mostly of older men, had somehow gotten the impression that the South had again

seceded from the Union [....] They ran up the Confederate flag on the courthouse pole,

and prepared to die in its defense" (West, Million 229). The crowd's violence becomes

a full-blown riot, resulting in the parading of African-Americans' heads on poles, the

nailing of a Jew to a door, and the raping of a Catholic priest's housekeeper. The

passage clearly parodies the Southern stereotypes of racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-

Catholicism, and it also demonstrates the easy manipulability of a crowd. And the ease

with which the crowd fragments into these sects suggests that these sects were already

a part of the crowd-that it is not a breakdown of a coherent unit that is at work, but the

revelation of the factions that were already inside it.

But Whipple would not be deterred by this failed attempt to realize his Fascist

vision. The novel concludes with a second crowd scene that features Whipple's ability


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to lead the entire U.S. to Fascism, figuring the crowd of the novel's final sequence for

the masses of the nation. After Lemuel is made an involuntary martyr for the Leather

Shirts' cause, West gives us something of an afterword in the narration of the "Pitkin's

Birthday" celebration, a prolepsis that marks the ascendancy of Whipple's new political

regime. Whipple presides over a parade commemorating Lemuel as propaganda for

the National Revolutionary Party. The streets of New York are overcrowded with youths

in Party costume: "It is Pitkin's Birthday, a national holiday, and the youth of America is

parading down Fifth Avenue in his honor. They are a hundred thousand strong. On

every boy's head is a coonskin hat complete with jaunty tail, and on every shoulder

rests a squirrel rifle" (West, Million 237). When the parade reaches the reviewing stand,

Whipple addresses the youths, casting Lemuel as an icon of the Party's xenophobic

tenets. The crowd in observance of Pitkin's Birthday is overpowered by Whipple's

distortions of Lemuel's life, as the novel concludes with their dissonant exclamations:

"'Hail the Martyrdom of the Bijou Theatre!,' 'Hail, Lemuel Pitkin!,' and 'All hail the

American boy!'" (West, Million 238). The dissonance, like the dispersal of the crowd of

Southern whites, demonstrates heterogeneity within the crowd. But that comes as little

solace, as the mass-deception of the crowd signals the manipulation of the entire nation

toward the embrace of Fascism.

In both the Southerners' lynch mob and the Pitkin's Birthday event, the crowds'

manipulability resonates with Le Bon's thesis that spontaneous formations are

controlled by a mechanism akin to hypnosis. The crowd operates, he writes,

in a special state, which much resembles the state of fascination in which
the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotiser [....]
The conscious personality has entirely vanished; will and discernment are
lost. All feeling and thoughts are bent in the direction by the hypnotiser.


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Such is also approximately the state of the individual forming part of a
psychological crowd. He is no longer conscious of his acts. (Le Bon 31)

Whipple's role as skillful manipulator of crowds smacks of the hypnotist, but it is an

over-reading to say that Whipple's crowds are uniform in their state of agitation.

Instead, West provides clear evidence that these crowds, even while they are

manipulated as a discrete group, demonstrate internal variability. After Whipple's

inflammatory speech to the southern whites, the crowd separates into three factions-

the first heads to the opera house that staged the freak show, the second heads to

defend the Confederate flag on the courthouse flagpole, and the third proceeds to the

town's principal stores and to free their relatives from jail-each of which is itself an

internally homogeneous crowd. The diversification of that crowd, alongside the very

dissonance of the crowd's cries at the Pitkin's Birthday parade, demonstrates that even

while a spontaneous body can be manipulated as a single organism-toward violence,

toward Fascism, and so on-it still retains a distinctly networked character. That these

crowds maintain internal diversification may seem like a commonplace, but it is

important to recognize how West's crowds preserve that networked organization

precisely against Le Bon's pervasive theories that treated the crowd as a homogeneous

unit.

More importantly, the networked diversification of these crowds also challenges

the assumption that West's crowds are simply Fascist. Emphasizing the networked

elements of these crowds-instead of simply reading them as monolithic units doing

Whipple's bidding-allows us to see how the networked constitution of crowds actually

undermines their manipulability. In the case of the Southerners, the fact crowd's

demonstration of its own factionalism is at cross-purposes with West's portrayal of the


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crowd as the puppet to Whipple's puppeteer. And the very dissonance of the crowd at

the parade signals that the crowd can never be shoehorned into perfect orthodoxy,

leaving room-or at least hope-for an alternative to Whipple's ideological regime. For

while it is easy enough for Whipple to stir up the animosities of these crowds, it is

another thing entirely for him to direct them into concerted action. Their interests are

too diverse to be controlled. Perversely, these diverse interests groups-which political,

ethnic, or religious group shall the Southerners persecute? and how best to celebrate

the hero Pitkin? -signal a democratic form to these crowds that appear Fascist in

content.

Given their relationship to Whipple, the explicitly politicized crowds in A Cool

Million offer counterpoint to those of The Day of the Locust, which, notwithstanding their

absence of politicians or political rallies, are often understood as expressing concerns

about Fascism. Crowds were, after all, commonly associated with the rise of Fascism in

the minds of West's contemporaries. And while A Cool Million purportedly advances

that association by coupling its crowds with Whipple's politics, a close reading of the

crowds indicates that they actually resist full conformity to Whipple's agenda.

Recognizing the tensions of those politics-that the crowds' contents remain an

expression of Fascist sentiment while their form persists as a decentralized, diversified

democratic body-allows us to bypass the traditional readings of Fascism's grip on

crowds and on the masses with a reading that foregrounds the democratic possibilities

of these networked bodies. This reading of the crowds in A Cool Million allows us to

see, even in the most politicized of crowds, the formal renderings of the social that are

also at work in The Day of the Locust.


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Movies And Masses In The Day Of The Locust

Unlike Whipple's crowds in A Cool Million, the famous scene in The Day of the

Locust has no explicit political motivation, and it carries a deep ambivalence on matters

of class. These characteristics extend to other crowded scenes of the text. What these

crowd scenes have in common, and what distinguishes them from West's earlier

figurations of crowds and the masses, is their deployment of the Hollywood novel genre.

By the time The Day of the Locust was published, most of the conventions of the genre

were well established-tropes of the promised land of glitzy opportunities, the fallen

woman who fails at acting and turns to prostitution, and so on. As John Parris Springer

observes, "fiction about movie making first appeared in the early teens as juvenile

literature" (8), and by the 1930s it was an easily recognizable genre, with The Day of the

Locust having been preceded by James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice

(1934), Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935), Richard Hallas's You

Play the Black and the Red Comes Up (1938), and John O'Hara's Hope of Heaven

(1938). For West, the Hollywood novel was a logical focus given his longstanding

interests in surrealism and in thematics we would today liken to those of postmodern

simulation. His unique intervention into the Hollywood novel genre is to use it as a

window onto the entangled figures of the crowd and the masses, and the culture-

industry thematics that accompany the genre allow him another opportunity to think

through the form and content of crowds.

That West's Hollywood novel would invest itself so thoroughly in the

representation of crowds should come as no surprise, because movie theaters were

one of the primary sites of crowd theorization-and especially anxiety over the power of

the crowd-during the early 1900s. With the advent of the first moving-picture projector


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in 1896, the nickelodeon theater emerged as a space typified by rowdiness and

crowdedness that was inseparable from its working-class, immigrant patronage.

Accordingly, the nickelodeon was a major locus of intellectual output, not only over the

products of popular culture consumed there, but also for the articulations of the crowds

drawn there-their democratizing potential, their potential for societal corruption, and so

on. The nickelodeon was so deeply associated with the crowd, Russ Castronovo

writes, that in 1915, "the film industry began encouraging patrons to speak not of

'movies' but of the more respectable-sounding 'photoplays' in an effort to help cinema

shed its dodgy background of immigrant and working-class contexts" (138). Castronovo

explains the milieu that set the demands for the shift from the nickelodeon to the more

respectable, middle-class "movie palace":

In comparison to the limited range of people who could purchase pricey
theater tickets, a 1910 survey of film audiences in New York City concluded
that 72 percent of all moviegoers came from working-class backgrounds.
Despite this breakdown, early movie audiences could not be standardized,
as they are today, into the singular identity of an absorbed spectator but
instead remained something much more uncertain and much less
calculable: the crowd. Not only did films feature scenes of 'crowd splendor'
and not only might crowds be dubbed a 'moving picture of democracy' [....]
Movies were not simply for or about crowds; this new art form might be
productive of them. (142)

That the film industry produces crowds was easily recognized in the era of the

nickelodeon, and this became one aspect of the narration of the crowd in The Day of

the Locust.

West places the crowds of The Day of the Locust in his own present, well after the

decline of the nickelodeon era, though the residual association between film and the

immigrant crowd remained. But by this time, with the transition to the "movie palace,"

film had become a much more widely consumed commodity. Michael Denning


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estimates that "by 1937, movies accounted for three-quarters of America's dollars spent

on leisure" (41). Rita Barnard adds that during this period Works Progress

Administration unemployment funds, in guidelines for both the household "emergency

budget" and the "maintenance budget," had "specifically allotted funds to enable each

family member to attend the movies: once a month on the former, and once a week on

the latter," fueling the rise of the film industry as well as the American ideology of

consumption (25). So at the publication of The Day of the Locust, the movie theater

occupied a dual space regarding the crowd and the masses. On the one hand, it still

bore the residual association with the nickelodeon's urban, immigrant crowd. On the

other hand, the movie theater had become the locus of a truly mass consumer society,

severed from its putatively metropolitan locale and its class-specific makeup to begin to

saturate the entire nation.

From this dual position, simultaneously linked to the crowd of the nickelodeon era

and the masses of the contemporary film industry, The Day of the Locust recognizes the

entanglement of these two figures and their mediation by the industries of mass culture.

And that dual dynamic begins well before the apocalyptic crowd scene that concludes

the novel. The introductory passage, wherein Tod Hackett observes the studio backlot

scene of extras marching toward their set, pales in comparison to the climactic finale,

but it is important to see how it establishes some of the intersections of the crowd, the

masses, and the mass media, effectively framing The Day of the Locust between

bookends of crowd scenes. Hackett looks out over his set and costume design

materials to see an army passing below his window. It is the usual backlot conceit: to

fool the reader that an event is actually happening only to reveal that event was merely


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the stuff of a Hollywood stage or backlot. The telling detail, however, lies in how West's

narrator describes the cast and crew as they pass by: "An army of cavalry and foot was

passing. It moved like a mob; its lines broken, as though fleeing some terrible defeat"

(West, Locust 21). The army parade's descent into an unregimented mob not only

indicates the falsehood of the Hollywood representation of military regimentation-as if

reflecting the very massification of film itself. It also suggests the very audience of such

a cultural commodity, which is simultaneously commodified as a product of the film

industry and is reified as a figure of the masses. In other words, the simile likening the

army of cast and crew to a mob has the effect of evoking the specter of the

nickelodeon's bygone raucous crowds.

And such a nickelodeon audience is replicated in the crowd that gathers to watch

a stag film at Ms. Jenning's upscale call house. Migrating over from the fashionable

party at Claude Estee's house, Tod and the industry insiders sit down for a screening of

Le Predicament de Marie, ou La Bonne Distraite-a piece about an oversexed family

and their maid that sets up a correspondingly oversexed scene in the theater, building

up sexual tension in the film and within the audience until the film reel breaks down and

ruins any hopes of a climactic payoff for the family or Tod's crew of spectators. Even as

the projectionist is preparing to start the film, the crowd of moviegoers is boisterous:

"Mrs. Schwartzen started to whistle and stamp her feet and the others joined in. They

imitated a rowdy audience in the days of the nickelodeon" (West, Locust 44). But the

rowdiness is more than a performance or another signal of the affect of the Estee

cohort. Rather, it muddles the classed nature of crowds across the text. As Robert

Sequin writes in Around Quitting Time,


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one hint that West intended this as a fairly crucial moment comes when the
film projector breaks, and someone in the crowd yells 'Cheat!' This reminds
us once more of The Cheated, the original title of the book, and establishes
the fact that we are at some level not to understand these high-living
Hollywood socialites as distinct from the scrambling lumpens who populate
the rest of the novel, that some deeper fictional identity unites them. (104)

The result is that West effectively extends the qualities of the nickelodeon audience to

the uppercrust of Hollywood.

It is no coincidence that this ambivalence over the politics of class would involve

one of the text's working titles. The slate of titles West tinkered with as he was editing

the manuscript for publication reflects a wavering uncertainty of his sociological

project-to cast the crowds and the masses as heroes of class warfare, or as victims of

class antagonism, or as the vulgar byproducts of reckless culture industries. The

version that Random House first accepted was entitled The Cheated, but in intervening

drafts West also considered The Grass Eaters, Cry Wolf, and The Wrath to Come as

viable contenders for the title. Biographer Jay Martin reads The Grass Eaters as "a

reference to the cultists who infest the novel and make up the Torchbearers" of "The

Burning of Los Angeles" (313). Cry Wolf underscores the doltishness and manipulability

of the masses who populate West's riotous crowd scene, and The Wrath to Come

clearly emphasizes the prophetic apocalypticism of the violence that the crowd scene

engenders, as if foretelling outright revolution. In each case, the working titles and even

the final title bear a distinctly charged element of mass psychosis in intimating the

novel's dominant thematics, and the vacillation between the politics of these titles

reflects the ambiguities in the politics of the crowds that remained in the text after the

title was decided.


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The Cheated, the only working title to be drawn from the text, stands alone in

demonstrating the conflation of the crowd and the masses and their relation to the

apparatus of mass culture. It is, as Seguin notes, shouted by a moviegoer at Ms.

Jenning's brother in frustration of the thwarted cinematic-sexual climax. And in the

climactic scene outside of Kahn's Persian Palace Theatre, the narrator reflects on the

crowd before it is sparked to violence: "Nothing can ever be violent enough to make

taut their slack minds and bodies. They have been cheated and betrayed. They have

slaved and saved for nothing" (West, Locust 193). The preceding lines acknowledge

that what unites the crowd of "the cheated" is precisely their common betrayal: "They

realize that they've been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they

read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex

crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. This daily diet

made sophisticates of them" (West, Locust 192). The chain of signification is typical of

crowd representation, with the crowd here figuring the masses-both of which, in this

case, are mediated by hazardous properties of the mass media.2 Tod earlier describes

these people as those who "had come to California to die" (West, Locust 23). The

crowd at Ms. Jenning's is traditionally denied an allegorical reading, but the riotous

crowd at Kahn's is generalized to the abstract masses, with both figures internally

mediated by the linkages of the mass culture industries.

Precisely who these "cheated" people are further complicates the ambiguities of

this apocalyptic crowd. The assembly that forms outside of Kahn's to watch celebrities


2 West had experimented with the language of mass media betrayal in Miss Lonelyhearts, wherein the
protagonist, himself an advice columnist for a major newspaper, sees a crowd forming along a street in
the Bronx and thinks to himself that dreams "have been made puerile by the movies, radio and
newspapers" (39).


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gather for a movie premier is progressively described as a "crowd," a "mob," and finally

a "riot," characterizing the group's turn to violence. But again West muddies the class

makeup of the crowd, perhaps reflecting his general ambivalence on the classed nature

of these social formations. Seguin corrects the traditional readings that West's crowd is

strictly a working class or lower-middle class phenomenon: "Tod perceives the crowd to

be essentially 'lower middle class' in composition, a perception complicated a few lines

later by the narrator's observations on the daily routines of the crowd" (111). West

writes, "All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks

and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts" (Locust 192). Sequin,

studying the makeup of the crowd, argues that, "this diversifies considerably our sense

of the class composition of the crowd" (111). It seems as if West is trying to have it both

ways, labeling the crowd "lower middle class"-not coincidentally the class most often

associated with German Fascism-in one moment, and describing it as composed of a

range of white- and blue-collar workers the next. By eschewing traditional class

striations with this nebulous, flattened aggregation, West again deploys a social body

that is democratic in form.

That muddiness of the classed element of the crowd is perhaps further illuminated

by a contrast of the language West considered for earlier drafts of the apocalyptic finale.

Jay Martin recovers this passage from the drafting of the novel's final pages: "In West's

penultimate version of The Day of the Locust he wrote that 'the [middle-class]

Angelenos would be first, but their brothers all over the country would follow. Only the

working classes would resist. There would be civil war'" (319). West ultimately

withdrew the direct language of class antagonism, but such antagonism still underlies


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the distinctly classed nature of the crowd, as the narrator describes the constituency of

the crowd that Seguin locates: "Tod could see very few people who looked tough, nor

could he see any working men. The crowd was made up of the lower middle class,

every other person one of his torchbearers" (West, Locust 191).

Diminished in its revolutionary tone, the more ambiguous classing of this crowd

that remains in the published version demonstrates some of the slippage from crowd to

masses that typifies turn-of-the-century sociological theory as well as some of West's

earlier work. But it is important to recognize that West does not stage the masses as

having an inherent inclination toward violence, as Le Bon argued. Instead, the crowd

outside Kahn's is an inert social body that remains placid until violence calls it into

violence. The bias against the crowd is evident at the earliest moment Tod sees it. The

narrator describes his observation of the policemen trying to keep the roads open for

traffic: "He noticed how worried they looked and how careful they tried to be. If they

had to arrest someone, they joked good-naturedly with the culprit, making light of it until

they got him around the corner, then they whaled him with their clubs" (West, Locust

190). Tod himself registers a portentous feeling about the crowd, thinking, "At the sight

of their heroes and heroines, the crowd would turn demoniac. Some little gesture,

either too pleasing or too offensive, would start it moving and then nothing but machine

guns would stop it. Individually the purpose of its members might simply be to get a

souvenir, but collectively it would grab and rend" (West, Locust 190). While intense

anxiety surrounds the formation of the crowd, the crowd itself is placid. It causes the

police some logistical problems, periodically bulging out into the streets, and it is loud

with the "continuous roar of catcalls, laughter and yells, pierced occasionally by a


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scream" (West, Locust 190). Never, however, does the crowd demonstrate a potential

for anything more than unruliness. The anxiety demonstrated by the police, Tod, and a

reporter covering the premier is wholly out of step with the reality of the crowd's

mundane nature, and they only receive post-hoc justification after the crowd is set into

tumult by Homer Simpson's beating of Adore Loomis. That this is the event setting the

crowd into motion is telling: while the crowd does not act collectively to redress

Simpson's brutal attack, and even devolves into its own state of depravity in its

numerous sexual assaults, it is only induced to violence by an act of violence. The

crowd is rendered as a mirror or as a vessel, only reflecting the qualities cast onto it or

into it, and the result is a refusal to present the crowd as inherently malevolent.

Of course the most viscerally striking aspect of this crowd is its penchant for

violence-so much so, I think, that it threatens to overshadow some of the democratic

politics it carries in its formal composition. For even as the crowd at the movie premier

turns toward violent expressions of frustrated desires, its formal organization remains as

a network of diverse interests. In advance of the celebrities' arrival, thousands have

already gathered outside Kahn's, steadily assimilating the new arrivals into the crowd

that the narrator describes as having, if not exactly agency, then a distinct sense of

subjectivity: "It allowed itself to be hustled and shoved out of habit and because it

lacked an objective. It tolerated the police, just as a bull elephant does when he allows

a small boy to drive him with a light stick" (West, Locust 191). Later, caught in the

melee of the crowd, Tod experiences it as body of water: "He was jostled about in a

hacking cross surf of shoulders and backs [....] Using the eucalyptus tree as a

landmark, he tried to work toward it by slipping sideways against the tide, pushing hard


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when carried away from it and riding the current when it moved toward his objective"

(West, Locust 196-97). The crowd, Tod begins to realize, resembles the angry

"torchbearers" who menacingly pursue Faye Greener in "The Burning of Los Angeles,"

the painting that Tod has been planning throughout the text. On the surface of both of

these passages, the crowd appears to be monolithic in its apocalyptic drive, bearing a

strong likeness to Le Bon's uniform, conscience-sharing collective.

But a closer look reveals the crowd's internal diversification, the networked

properties that hold it together. Inside the lurching mass of people, Tod begins to

recognize different divisions within the crowd. One segment spasms with the jostling of

bodies, with men grabbing after the torn dress of a young girl. Another segment is so

placid that "most of the people seemed to be enjoying themselves" while they analyze

the antics of their more animated counterparts and discuss how the riot was initiated in

the first place (West, Locust 198). And even below that level of the crowd's

segmentation, Tod encounters the individuals of the crowd in some profile, bringing into

relief the nodal constitution of the crowd. Homer Simpson, the dull Midwesterner who

comes to California to bask in the sun, weaves through the crowd, and Tod sees

Homer's "head bobbing above the crowd" before Homer beats the child actor Adore

Loomis, the event that sets the crowd into tumult (West, Locust 193). In the violent

segment of the crowd, Tod can see the anonymous young girl whom he chivalrously

protects from an old man's sexual assault, only to find a second man grabbing at her

body and torn dress. In the docile segment of the crowd, he is able to eavesdrop on the

conversation between a "stout woman," her male companion, a woman at her side, "a

little man wearing a cloth cap," and a third woman (West, Locust 199). These


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segmentations of the crowd-into separate modes of being in the crowd and into

individuals-reinforce the networked constituency of West's crowd, supplanting its

monolithic facade with an interior structure akin to a constellation.

Again, the difference between the crowd's content and its form is informative of

our readings of West's representations of class and social organization. To read these

unruly crowds simply in terms of their unruliness privileges traditional essentialisms

about crowds and the lower-class masses that date back to Le Bon's work. But to

emphasize the networked form of these bodies highlights a completely different politics

of the crowd-one that is democratic in its flattening of social strata and its diversity of

interests. In the case of the crowds in A Cool Million, that network form undercuts the

Fascist agenda of Whipple's politics. And in The Day of the Locust, that networked form

offers a utopian angle to crowd formations, positioning them not as instruments of

violence, but as organizations defying a central control-and especially decoupling

crowds and masses from their stereotypical association with working and lower-middle

classes. By focusing on the formal composition of West's crowds, I do not intend to de-

politicize them, as formalist studies so often tend to do. Instead, a study of the

networked form of these crowds re-politicizes them by demonstrating the democratic

nature of their organization precisely against the typical associations between crowds

and violence that tend to treat the working and lower-middle classes with distrust or

worse.

None of this, however, resolves the binaries that tend to dominate the discussion

of West's crowds-whether they are revolutionary or revolting, or whether they are the

domain of the working and lower classes or that of the entire class hierarchy. Instead,


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this emphasis on the crowds' formal networking schemes allows us to see how West

envisions a social organization founded on principles of connectivity-not to be

confused with the solidarity of collectivity. To consider these crowds as networked

figurations means that we should also pay attention to the nature of their mediating

links. In West's early fiction and especially in The Day of the Locust, those mediating

links, the ligatures of the networks that constitute his crowds and masses, are the

connective forces of mass culture industries. These are the links that bind the crowd at

Ms. Jenning's stag film, outside of the movie premier at Kahn's, and, to a lesser degree,

to the audiences gathered by Whipple's political machine. In other words, the formal

organization of the network is the means by which West addresses the substance of the

network-the mass media that comprise it. And it is this relationship-between the

industries of mass culture and the democratizing potential of networked crowds-that

bears the load of West's utopian critique.

Networking Democracy

West's fixation on the potential import of a crowd's social organization is a telling

one, because it speaks to a social space that may have expired with the passing of the

historical conditions of modernism. Susan Hegeman's essay "Haunted by Mass

Culture" (2000) argues that the period of modernism was uniquely situated to express

the experience of mass culture and the public, both of which have precipitously declined

since (and because of) the Cold War years. She surveys the 1934 sinking of the Morro

Castle off the coast of Asbury Park, New Jersey, which brought about a gathering of as

many as a quarter million people that was facilitated by sensationalizing media

coverage, beachside vendors supplying souvenirs of the event, and reduced railway

fares meant to spark New Jersey tourism-a scene she characterizes as "both a


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spontaneous public festival and a media event" (Hegeman 298). It was a scene

reminiscent of the crowds gathering spontaneously before the Stock Exchange on Black

Thursday, though of a completely different scale and duration. Hegeman's conclusions

drawn from the anecdote of the Morro Castle crowd are twofold. First, it demonstrates

precisely what so many of the modern culture critics feared: "the portent of the end of

civil society" (Hegeman 299). Hegeman reads the beachside scene as confirming the

fears that the masses were "a potential army of zombies" given the gathering's passive

manipulability by the press, the souvenir vendors' catering to truly lurid and base tastes,

and the New Jersey tourist industry's likeness to "insidious political forces of charismatic

populism and totalitarianism" (299). Second, the spectacle of the Morro Castle

demonstrates the remove we feel today, after the late modernist turn of the Cold War

era, from the possibilities of that kind of spontaneous formation in the first place-given

the atomizing forces of suburbanization, home entertainment technologies, and the

increasing privatization of public spaces. Fundamentally, Hegeman writes, the scene at

the sinking of the Morro Castle was "the product of a different arrangement of social

space than the one we now experience" (300)-and not because the press covered it in

scandalous detail, but because people flocked to it in such great numbers. "Though it is

true that spontaneous public gatherings still appear at the sites of sensational murders

or other gruesome events," she argues, "they seldom develop the carnivalesque air the

Morro Castle provoked, precisely because we are now less familiar with the forms and

norms of public entertainment in general" (Hegeman 300).

Precisely the cause of the decline of this "different arrangement of social space" is

a powerful question for scholars of modernisms. Hegeman points to a shift "from urban


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public culture to a far more privatized one," noting, among other causes, the turn away

from public popular entertainments like amusement parks, dance halls, and the raucous

movie theaters of the nickelodeon era (300). Nicolaus Mills offers a potential

explanation in declining rates of unemployment, pointing to the start of World War II

when "the economic conditions that made the working-class crowd such a prominent

feature of American life in the 1930s disappeared. In the eighteen months between

June, 1940, and December, 1941, the number of unemployed people dropped from 8.5

to less than 4 million" (112). Whatever the manifold causes, the decline in such public

aggregation marks a momentous, if generally under-appreciated, development in

twentieth-century American history.

My primary goal in invoking Hegeman's argument about the crowd's "different

arrangement of social space" is not to wax nostalgic about lost potentials of the 1930s,

but to highlight the very specific historical context in which West invests his project in

the representation of the crowd and mass media, and to consider Hegeman's

description of modernist social space as itself reflective of the cultural logic of

modernism, as it situates modernist space as itself mediating the dialectical tension of

centralization and dispersal. For if West is relying on a networked figure of the crowd,

as has been the contention of this paper, and if conditions fostering the public nature of

the crowd were soon to disappear, as Hegeman suggests, then West's networked

crowds give us a unique position to explore a mode of network theorization that

responds to an inextricably modernist situation, and in fact underscores the uniqueness

of the modernist situation. In other words, the historical delimitations of the so-called

"era of crowds" punctuates the trajectory of network theorization by isolating this


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particular form of network representation to the modern period, whereas other forms,

like the characterological mode of six-degrees narration, persist into the present. Or, to

put it still another way, it is as if we are looking at an ideational fossil record and seeing

an early variant of network thinking that simply did not adapt to survive into

contemporary network discourses.3 Mass media has certainly penetrated American

social organization to an even greater degree today, so why is its manifestation during

the modern period so often accompanied by crowds?

At the heart of this historically distinct figuration of the network is an equally unique

vision of democracy. And that should come as no surprise, because democracy was

one of the major stakes of the crowd in Le Bon's writing. Part of his pernicious

conflation of crowd behavior and the unruliness of the masses stems from his worry

over the forces of democratization that risked, in his mind, "the destruction of those

religious, political, and social beliefs in which all the elements of our civilization are

rooted" (Le Bon 14). Russ Castronovo adds that sociologists of Le Bon's era would

express the common sensibility of the crowd as "the democratic mind"-even if they

sometimes allowed that formulation the stain of a demonized irrationality (94). Even

today democracy is the central terrain of contemporary scholarship on the modern

crowd. Mary Esteve's The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in American Literature

(2003), for example, advances the thesis that

because of the way urban crowds readily embodied a modern polity's
democratic populace without, however, harboring any specific political
contention, they, as discursive figures, made visible the idea of a

3 This is not to discount the work of many contemporary theorists-for example, Michael Hardt and
Antonio Negri's work in Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009), both of which articulate a need for
an unrealized, truly lateral society of public or common access in response to the striations of
globalization. But these remain calls for a certain kind of social organization, not reflections of an actually
lived public experience like the one Hegeman positions as passing with the moderns.


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categorically separate sphere, wherein this politically defined populace
could be seen as engaged in distinctly non-political, but nevertheless
deeply attractive and arguably humanly essential, activity. (3)

And Castronovo's aptly titled Beautiful Democracy (2007) studies how discourses of the

crowd and the masses fit into a national debate over "civic stability," fueled by debates

over the aesthetics of mass culture and those of upper-class refinement (5, 17). From

the declined era of the public to today's treatment of the period, the crowd has been

inextricably linked to the hopes and anxieties of democracy.

What does it mean to have a networked figuration of democracy in this period that

saw the rise and fall of the crowd? In the modern era, "democracy" still connoted, at

least in part, an equality of condition. That kind of social organization is suggested in

the networked figuration of a crowd that we have seen across West's fiction, which acts

as figure of a truly flattened social organization. West's crowd in The Day of the Locust

is rigidly classed, it is true, but as an independent figure the crowd gestures toward a

society where each individual bears equal relation to the networked whole-a

formulation borne out in the de-classed crowds of A Cool Million. The networked

dynamics of the crowd, then, evoke a democratic sentiment that preserves an equality

of condition as its primary basis of one's relation to the other.

This networked vision of democracy, part and parcel of the public culture that

Hegeman identifies as an intrinsically modern phenomenon, perhaps repositions the

crowd as a figure not of collectivity-reminiscent of Le Bon's fears of a crowd's

"collective mind" bent on nothing short of absolute destruction-but of connectivity. And

that particular brand of connectivity was facilitated by the mass media outlets of the day

that brought so many into a common culture-or at least gave the appearance of such a

common culture in contrast to the social stratifications of past eras. This re-articulation


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of the crowd would emphasize its flattened, networked internal dynamics over the

pernicious stereotypes long associated with so-called "crowd mentality". Accordingly,

the form of the crowd offers a utopian vision of social organization, though, as we have

seen, the representation of its content tends to craft a particularly malicious rendering of

the working classes.

Such a shift in focus from the collective to the connective allows us to imagine the

possibilities of a truly flattened, public social organization-an organization well absent

from American experience since the scene of the moderns. The passage of the century

has only brought more connective ligatures of mass media, but a deepening

engagement with crowds has not accompanied them. The crowd is, I hasten to add, a

marked absence in today's iterations of the network narrative genre, which tends to

focus almost solely on six-degrees-of-separation structures in film. One might argue

that is the nature of these mass media that have changed, favoring a more atomizing

mode of reception-home entertainment systems, cellular reception of phone calls,

news, and video, and so on-that in turn determines a more atomized mode of social

organization. But such an explanation would overlook the similar functions of atomizing

technologies of the modern period such as the phonograph parlors of the 1890s and

early 1900s that were an important element of creating habits of entertainment

consumption.4 What has changed seems more likely to be ideologies of the public in a

shift toward privatization-a force motivating the collapse of civic and social institutions

that Robert Putnam chronicles in his 2000 book Bowling Alone. West's representation

of crowds registers an ambivalence about the spontaneous manifestations of such

4 See "Talking and Singing Machines, Parlors, and Peep Shows" in David Nasaw's Going Out: The Rise
and Fall of Public Amusements (1993): 120-34.


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public social formations, but even that ambivalence holds a utopian charge in the

potential for a truly democratized social organization. That ambivalence seems

completely disregarded today by the near-complete abandonment of crowd thinking and

representation that is needed to reconsider the crowd as a model of networked

organization.


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CHAPTER 6
CODA


Nathanael West's investment in the crowd is but one manifestation of the myriad

forms of network narration that occupied American modernism as a way of negotiating

the modern period's dialectic of centralization and dispersal. West's networked crowds

share a common project with the networked public spaces of Anita Loos's Gentlemen

Prefer Blondes and the networked forms of Jean Toomer's Cane and John Dos

Passos's U.S.A. trilogy. To illustrate the breadth of the network narrative during this

period-the constellar element of the genre that I have tried to demonstrate with this

collage-like study of disparate texts-I want to conclude with a brief study in contrast.

Because it exemplifies the kind of generic conventions David Bordwell ascribes to the

network narrative, and indeed because it is one of the primary texts scholars point to

when discussing the genre, Paul Haggis's Crash (2005) provides a useful counterpoint

to the modes of network narration I have been discussing in American modernism.

Crash is symptomatic of a spate of films arriving in the mid-2000s-Alejandro

Iamrritu's Babel and Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, both released in 2006, for example-

that are built upon the same six-degrees-of-separation formula as 60, the television

drama I discussed in the introduction. Together, these films and others released in the

same narrow window called attention to the genre that Bordwell and others were touting

as a relatively new development. The winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best

Motion Picture, Crash typifies Bordwell's narratological blueprint for the genre that he

outlines in Poetics of Cinema (2008), as it stages chance as the motivator of the

characters' networks, uses the traffic accident as a standard figuration of convergence,

and locates its fundamental tension between accident and destiny. By isolating its


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connective devices solely to the characterological mode of interpersonal networks,

Crash provides a case study in some of the ideological assumptions that inform

contemporary understandings of the network narrative genre, as well as the discourses

of networks across the humanities.

The film revolves around eight character-threads, many of which manifest in pairs

of figures: Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), police

partners and lovers; Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock), a

wealthy, white, politically prominent couple carjacked early in the film; carjackers

Anthony (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Peter Waters (Larenz Tate), the wayward

brother of the upstanding Det. Graham Waters; Farhad (Shaun Toub), the owner of a

convenience store, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh); Cameron (Terrence

Howard) and Christine Thayer (Thandie Newton), an upperclass black couple struggling

after she is molested by a racist LAPD officer; officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon), the racist

cop whose father is suffering from the side effects of a urinary tract infection, and officer

Tom Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), an idealist cop disgusted by the molestation who tries to

vindicate himself when encountering Cameron Thayer the next day; Daniel (Michael

Peha), a Hispanic locksmith and father of a young, lower-class family. Such a survey

may seem an excessive detour, but of course that very kaleidoscopic profusion of

characters is precisely Haggis's focus. For the film offers very little in the way of plot

beyond the marginal stories of each character-thread, stories that are insignificant

beyond the coincidences that drive the characters into intersection. Typical of

contemporary understandings of network narratives, the film focuses on the atomized


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characters themselves and the chance intersections that draw them into loose

connections.

Those chance connections often take place in the violence of a car crash. This is

evident in the film's title, of course, but is not the only linking mechanism of the film.

More often, the drawing of relational lines simply occurs through chance encounters.

For example, the idealist officer Tom Hansen picks up a hitchhiker whom the audience

recognizes as Peter Waters-not realizing that that afternoon he had been pursuing

Waters in the near-carjacking of Cameron Thayer. During the car ride, Hansen takes

offense to one of Waters's comments, and while pulling over to eject him from the car,

an argument escalates to a tragic misunderstanding that results in Hansen shooting his

passenger. And it gets worse for Hansen: the audience knows that the victim of his

bullet was the wayward brother of Detective Graham Waters, a fast-rising lawman who

swears to his mother that he will track down his brother's murderer. This contingent

nature of the characters' convergences and entanglements is perhaps the defining

feature of the network narrative, as Bordwell describes it.

In terms of its characterological networks and its contingent connections, Crash is

more or less interchangeable with its peers, distinctive only in its overtly multicultural

thematic of racial tolerance that complements the constellar project of the film's

organization. It is fair to note, however, that there are other films from this period that

conform to the characterological mode of network narration while also nodding toward

other means of thinking networks. Syriana, for example, sketches the connective lines

between commodities, markets, and people through the global oil trade, buttressing its

characterological structure with treatment of the material mediators that facilitate the


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characters' interrelationships. But by and large Bordwell is not inaccurate in describing

the contemporary manifestation of network narratives in film as wholly invested in a

characterological brand of networks.

The isolation of this mode of network narration in contemporary films confines the

network's ideational role to subjective experience. For example, in the case of Crash,

the network is ultimately less a tool for systemic analysis of the discursive and material

concerns of race in America than it is a means for studying the subjective experience of

race through a variety of perspectives-thus the film's privileging of racial tolerance over

an emphasis on, say, poverty. This winnowing of the field-both in terms of aesthetics

in form and content, and in terms of the critiques staged by network narratives-in

contemporary narrative production draws a sharp contrast with the broad field of the

genre in American modernism. Beyond the sheer aesthetic diversity of networking

devices, what is distinctive about the American moderns' forays into the network

narrative is their expansive use of the network as a conceptual tool. For these writers,

the network provided a versatile conceptual tool for thinking the dynamic changes of

their milieu-and not only the interconnections of people, but also the networked

constitution of systems like race, class, history, and democracy, as my chapters have

tried to demonstrate.

Moreover, such films demonstrate a residual trace of modernism in our

contemporary discourses of networks. In a way, the characterological networks of films

like Crash function somewhat similarly to the networks we have seen in the public

spaces of the hotel or in crowd figuration. A characterological network relies on person-

to-person relations that are unmediated, just as Loos's public spaces and West's


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crowds erode institutional boundaries such as class and ethnicity. Whether it is in the

fictional mode of Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy or in postmodern manifestations of the

network narrative like Crash, characterological networks hold out a utopian wish for a

social organization that is unmediated by institutional determinants. In fact, this

rendering of networked representation might well represent a nostalgia for precisely the

public culture of the modern period that organized public spaces and crowds as key

articulations of the cultural logic of modernism. If that is the case, then the nostalgia of

characterologically networked films like Crash signals a rather selective memory for

what Hegeman refers to as modernism's "different arrangement of social space": it

remembers the modern period's use of networks to flatten institutions into unmediated

social organizations, but it forgets that those networked figurations also provided the

moderns with conceptual tools to think democratic and even collective modes of the

social-perhaps as telling a marker of historical amnesia as it is a shortcoming in our

social imagination today.

Nascent and unarticulated though they often were, the moderns' experiments with

networked representation mark a breadth of engagement with the possibilities for

networks that contemporary network narratives seem uninterested in exploring. Part of

this winnowing down may reflect the residual nature of networks in contemporary

narrative and theoretical production, which I earlier described as a trace of the cultural

logic of modernism that dealt with the period's dialectical tensions of centralization and

dispersal. If that claim holds, it could well be that the onset of the digital revolution and

other developments toward the close of the twentieth century resulted in a closing of the

field of network possibilities-a post-hoc redefinition of the boundaries of networked


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representation as well as a foreclosure of the network's versatility as a conceptual tool.

To consider the network as a central figure of American modernism not only informs an

intellectual history network discourses with their origins in the early twentieth century,

but also brings our understanding of modernism's projects more closely into alignment

with the way that modernists were beginning to think their own milieu.


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LIST OF REFERENCES


Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New
York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Barnard, Rita. The Great Depression and the Culture of Abundance: Kenneth Fearing,
Nathanael West, and Mass Culture in the 1930s. New York: Cambridge UP,
1995. Print.

Barreca, Regina. "Introduction." Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Wesley Beal received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hendrix College in

2004 before coming to the University of Florida for graduate study. He received a

Master of Arts degree in 2006, with a thesis on the conspiracy genre. During his

doctoral study, he held a Grinter Fellowship and a Massey Dissertation Fellowship. His

work in the classroom yielded two teaching awards: a University Writing Program

teaching award and the prestigious VanderWerf Award, which is granted to the single

highest-rated teacher in the Graduate School each year. As a graduate student at the

University of Florida, he published on the submerged postcolonialism of Blade Runner

in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, and published a version of his master's thesis in

Genre. A version of the dissertation chapter on John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy is

forthcoming from Digital Humanities Quarterly as part of a special issue he is co-editing.

After graduation, he begins a visiting assistant professorship at Lyon College. He

and his wife Courtney are excited to know that their first child will be born an Arkansan.


188





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1 THE MO DERN AMERICAN NETWORK NARRATIVE By WESLEY WILLIAM BEAL A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010

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2 2010 Wesley William Beal

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3 To Courtney and Charley

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to my teachers at the University of Florida. Susan Hegeman, Phil Wegner, Ed White, and Nora Alter were generous in their support o f my dissertation and provided guidance that, to put it bluntly, resuscitated this project many times over when I felt it was fading. Other teachers David Leverenz, Jodi Schorb, and Malini Schueller provided me with introductions to our field that made t his project thinkable. As mentors for our profession, each of them has modeled the work and habits that I aspire to in my career: enthusiasm reflexiv ity and magnanimity I am also grateful for the support of my colleagues. T he dissertation circle of modernist students was exceedingly generous in helping me strengthen my work. Jordan Dominy, Mike Mayne, Patrick McHenry, and Christina Van Houten provided me crucial feedback on these chapters, helping me give form to shaky arguments and sharpen my read ings It is by no coincidence that these generous colleagues along with Regina Martin and emeritus members Nicole LaRose and Todd Reynolds, are also membe rs of the Marxist Reading Group These colleagues have been instrumental in polishing my dissertati on, keeping me abreast of the field, advancing my professional development, and maintaining my sanity throughout the doctoral program. I cannot express my gratitude for their companionship, and hope I have reciprocated at least a fraction of their generos ity. I would be remiss not to mention the inspirational role of my dear friends from Hendrix, the Calico Gang: Tim Hiller, Mike Nance, Don Porter, Evan Rogers, Christopher and Michael Simeone, and Joel Winkelman. In the plurality of their doctoral advent ures, I have found a vitality that sustains my own writing and teaching. And the

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5 diversity of the ir disciplines has generated a range of issues and concerns that I strove to bring to bear on this project. For thei r friendship, I am honored. And finally, this project would not have been possible without my wife, Courtney. Without her love, support, and unwavering companionship, I could not have undertaken a project like this. To her I have dedicated this work, with all the love and admiration she deserve s.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Networks In The Modern Period ................................ ................................ ............. 12 Networks In Modernism ................................ ................................ .......................... 30 ................................ ............................ 44 2 CANE ................................ ................................ ........................ 55 Genre: Short Story Cycles And Network Narratives ................................ .............. 57 Networks Of Cane ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 61 ................................ ................................ ........ 79 3 GENTLEMEN PREFER B LONDES ................................ .............. 86 ................................ ................................ ............................. 88 Cocktail Parties, Class, And Networks ................................ ................................ .. 108 4 U.S.A. TRILOGY ................................ ............................ 117 ................................ ................................ ........... 118 U.S.A. : The United Six Degrees Of America ................................ ....................... 128 Networks Of History ................................ ................................ .............................. 136 5 THE DAY OF THE LOCUST ................................ ............ 142 ................................ ............................ 145 Cool Crowds: Democratic Form, Fascist Content ................................ ................ 150 Movies And Masses In The Day Of The Locust ................................ .................... 156 Networking Democracy ................................ ................................ ......................... 167 6 CODA ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 174 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 180 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 188

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7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fu lfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE MODERN AMERICAN NETWORK NARRATIV E By Wesley William Beal August 2010 Chair: Susan Hegeman Major: English erican modernism is characterized by a dialectical tension between homogeneity and dispersal, totality and fragmentation, and that these polarities are mediated by the figure of the network. Accordingly, I consider the network the defining figure of moder nist aesthetics and especially modernist narrative. Chapters on Cane Gentlemen Prefer Blondes John U.S.A. The Day of the Locust demonstrate the different kinds of networks that are at play in modernis m : networks of people, networks of technology and commodities and, perhaps most importantly, networks of form. This reappraisal of modernism challenges the conventional wisdom that networks are the prevailing social metaphor for contemp orary times, only recently having replaced the melting pot as the dominant metaphor for issues of globalization and the digital age, and providing a framework for the network narrative genre that is often associated with contemporary films like Crash Syri ana and Babel By arguing that American modernists also used networks to represent their milieu, I argue that these

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8 later network discourse s actually signal a residual trace of the cultural logic of modernism. T he bulk of the project is to excavate the k inds of networked representation that thrived during modernism and to consider what those lost m odes of network thinking indicate about American culture during the modern period. How might modernist s use networks to articulate their milieu differently tha n we use networks today? And how might abandoned modernist conceptions of networks provide an archaeology of possibilities for the network? The central conclusions I have reached from such prompts are twofold. First, I recover the diverse networked aest hetics that typified the modern period but are relatively undeveloped today. Second, I argue that contemporary manifestations of networks are suggestive of a nostalgia for modernism particularly its vibrant public culture.

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9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Duri ng the 2006 2007 television season, ABC ran an ill fated primetime drama named 6 Created by power producer J.J. Abrams, the program aired irregularly and scored poor ratings before being terminated after a mere 13 episodes without even a chance for a se ries finale. The title fairly signals the plot, which follows six primary characters from various walks of life as their paths cross, converge, and entangle on the streets of Manhattan. The cast of characters includes a struggling defense attorney, a you ng woman looking for a fresh start in New York City, the widow of an embedded journalist who was killed in Iraq, a gambling addict and chauffeur, a successful PR executive on the verge of marriage, and a father separated from his family who is trying to pi ece things back together. Each narrative becomes entangled with the others, framing the figures as nodes on a network, a human web of interdependence that bridges class, race, and gender to bring all of Manhattan into closer kinship. Indeed, this multicu ltural, didactic element was explicitly encouraged in promotions that aired connected to any other person through a chain of six people. Any of them could be the one multicultural underpinnings. 6 banks on a now familiar strategy of narrativizing the six degrees of separation formula. Popularized in a spate of 1990s and 2000s films Short Cuts (1993), 71 Fragments (1994), Magnolia (1999), Amores Perros (2000), Traffic (2000), 21 Grams (2004), Crash (2005), Syriana (2006), and Babel (2006), to name but a few of the

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10 Western examples 1 Lost series (2004 2010), this mode of narration tends to assemble networks of characters along two planes: first, by demonstrating their physical connectedness, signaled by scenes wherein characters unknowingly cross paths on the street or conduct some kind of fleeting business or social tran saction; and second, by establishing shared themes that loosely tie the characters together like existential agony in Magnolia racial discrimination in Crash or fate and agency in Lost In both cases, it is the reader who recognizes the networking of th e characters, never the figures themselves. Recognizing the shared conventions of these texts, scholars like David Bordwell have codified them as a supposedly new genre: the network narrative. One might say that after such a profusion of six degrees te xts, the banality of this narrative formula is what finally doomed 6 which seemed to offer no intervention beyond this organizational staple. What interests me about 6 however, is not its ultimate failure, but how it signals two key assumptions widely held about the figure of the network. For the network is generally accep ted as the defining figure of an intellectual history that spans only the last 30 years or so, acting as a metaphor to describe the advances of the digital revolution as well as the flows of capital and also generally confined to this period, its function as a literary device is often restricted to the use of the six degrees theorem. This pr oject challenges both of these assumptions about the network by establishing it as a key organiz ational figure in modernist intellectual production, and by showing how modernist narratives operate on 1 150 international films, mostly from the 1990s and 2000s, that follow this model.

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11 networked models in ways that broaden the generic classi fications that confine the network narrative to the six degrees formula. representational models indicates how the network provided them with a conceptual tool for grappling with the dramatic transformations of thei r milieu. To discuss American modernism in terms of networked dynamics may seem like the work of anachronism or presentism, as the network is the dominant figural metaphor for our contemporary moment of digitization and globalization, but I think that an emphasis on networks in modernist scholarship will help align our understanding of the projects of modernism more closely with the way that modernists were trying to think their own world. The cultural logic of modernism lies in the dialectical movement of two polarities that often present scholars with interpretative difficulty. In the intellectual production of the modern period, this dialectic is expressed in the tension between social, economic, and technological developments. And in the scholarship of modernist aesthetics, this dialectic is most often articulated as a tension between totalization and the fragment, the two most basic tendencies of high modernism. This cultural logic holds in global modernisms, but especially in American modernism, where experiments in the paradoxes of totalization and fragmentation performed especially important work to rethink the meaning of national space and national belonging in response to seismic periphery wrought by technological innovations such as the radio and by ever evolving systems of global trade. Scholars have often struggled to deal with these dialectical polarities, and I think that the figure of the network neatly mediates this dialectical

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12 tension, negotiating the competing visions of dispersal and unity into a system that accommodates both via its nodal, interconnective configuration. For th ese reasons, of American modernism, and explores its use as a conceptual tool that American moderns relied on to think the changing American landscape. Networks I n Th e M odern Period It is with good reason that the network is associated with the intellectual production of postmodernity and the age of globalization. A great proportion of intellectual output over the last 30 years, both in theory and in criticism, has opera ted on various forms of networked A Thousand Plateaus (1980) advances a theory of the rhizome, that strange body that Charles Taylor and Kwame Anthony Appiah implicitly discuss networked systems predicated on values of recognition, conversation, and cosm opolitan neighborliness. Sociologist Manuel Castells has written in The Rise of the Network Society (1996) that Modernity at Large (1996) establishes a proliferation have come to prominence on the internet in recent y ears. Marxist theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, often drawing of the work of Deleuze and Guattari, have theorized in The Multitude network: an open and expansive network in which all di fferences can be expressed

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13 freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work Network Theory (ANT) Bruno Latour has written in Reassembling the Social (2005) expression to check how much energy, movement, and specificity our own reports are able to capture. Network is a concept, not a thing out there. It is a tool to help describe And thes e networked configurations also appear in more popular outlets. For example, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman discusses globalization in his bestsellers The Lexus and the Olive Tree (1999) and The World is Flat (2005), both of which draw heavily o n the ideational model of networks using humanistic networks as a solution for international problems of human rights, and discussing how disenfranchised groups like Al Qaeda use networked organization to combat the networks of global power they protest R eading this genealogy of work, one might assume that the late twentieth century proliferation of network models would be directly tied to the onset of the digital revolution just as one might assume that the adoption of machinic language and ideational mod els would follow the industrial revolution. Important theorists of digital media and hypertextuality one thinks of Michael Joyce, George P. Landow, and Stuart Moulthrop, to name but a few have borne out the strong relationship between networked discourse and the scholarship of the digital age. But to infer that the use of the network as a conceptual or representational tool spawned autochthonously somewhere around 1980 signals a high degree of amnesia for much of the work that came earlier in the century.

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14 Social psychologist Stanley Milgram, for example, famously tested the span of 1960s. Milgram found that by using a chain of about six mediators, beginning with a known contact, a person in Omaha or Wichita could deliver a letter to an unknown person in Boston if given only were not overwhelming: only 26% of the chains were fully completed, and even those findings have been challenged as less than empirically sound. Nonetheless, Milgram remains a prominent figure in network thinking and especially in popular conceptions of networks 6 which explicitly narrates the theorem Milgram popularized, o r his heavily network structured Lost series, which relies heavily on the six degrees narrative formula, and in which Milgram looms vaguely, maybe menacingly obedience experimen ts. Biographer Thomas Blass credits Milgram with more or less single handedly introducing the six degrees theorem to the American public by arguing that John Six Degrees of Separation The 1993 film version, starring Stockard Channing, Will Smith, and Donald Sutherland, employs a linear narrative not a six degrees organization, contrary to what the title might suggest and it was widely celebrated, leading to an Academy Award for Best Actress for Chan Jon Stewart Show in 1994 a game that still enjoys popularity as pastime among movie buffs and the bored which further underscores acy in network thinking. Blass acknowledges that the M.I.T.

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15 political scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool and I.B.M. mathematician Manfred Kochen had already been working on a theoretical model to investigate the six degrees theorem (145), but he positions Milg ram as the central figure in bringing the six degrees theorem penchant for the dramatic experiment earned him popular recognition. When he finally published the findin gs of the small world experiment in 1967, Milgram chose Psychology Today as the venue, opting for a wider readership than he would have found with scientific journals. Milgram deserves much of the credit for popularizing this particular network scheme, bu t to locate him as the founder of network thinking would be a disservice to other networked models in American culture that came before him during the modern period. 2 The changing social, economic, demographic, and technological situations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries called for new models of thinking about transatlantic transmission in 1901 signaled the onset of global wireless communications, re quiring new ways to think about the local, the global, and the interrelationship of the 2 tephen Cola Company for the 1964 world research. After the Worl park in Anaheim, California that had opened in 1955, and it appears in the Disney parks in Orlando, Kingdom in Orlando consists of six rooms that customers observe via boat on an artificial canal the a chorus of harmonious animatronic children and feat ures a regionalized theme with heavy ethnic accents: western Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pacific, and finally a grand T a project Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong.

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16 two. The steady advance of urbanization forced people, especially in the U.S., to reconceive the boundaries and shapes of community, the interrelationships of center a nd periphery, and the meanings of pluralism and regionalism. The expansion of American cities, paired with advances in electric lighting and public transportation facilitated a public culture that led people to reexamine social interrelationships in the million European immigrants many were non Protestants and were considered people of color destabili zation of global trade that followed World War I reconfigured trading partnerships, and accordingly prompted new understandings of markets and neighbors, commodities and strangers. The radio offers a case study the modernist dialectic of centralization and dispersal. At the turn of the century, the airwaves were a mess of conflicting signals. Radio enthusiasts were free to choose their own frequencies, could transmit as far as their wattage allowed, and were not restricted to any regular scheduling that l isteners could reliably tune in to. The result was an outright cacophony of overlapping signals. The airwaves were so chaotic that transmissions detailing such important news as the sinking of the Titanic and the ensuing rescue efforts were routinely int errupted by competing signals. This situation provides two illustrations of the dialectic of unity and dispersion. On the one hand, it was becoming clear that radio technology itself, which had long been intended for point to point communications between two parties on the model of the telegraph or telephone, simply was not cooperating with the objective of perfectly linear transmissions. This was demonstrated during the interference of Titanic

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17 transmissions, and later with transmissions during World War I, which military leaders could not trust to be received confidentially by a single targeted audience in the field. By the 1920s, broadcasting, the multivalent scattering of signals across the airwaves to a widely dispersed audience, was understood to be displacing presumptions about its role as a device of linear, centrally controlled communications. On the other hand, the untenable chaos of the airwaves called for a series of regulatory reforms, begun by the Radio Act of 19 12, which began to articulate the airwaves as the domain of federal government instead of individual radio enthusiasts. Anthony Rudel explains the tension that arose as then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover led efforts to license stations and delegate them to specific and listen to signals from distant places were in direct conflict with the companies that were heavily invested in the technology and saw the new mediu m as a way to reach as dialectical tension, as governmental and corporate interests aimed to make the chaotic airwaves safe for commerce, while individual radio enthusiasts wan ted to preserve the public element of free radio transmissions. By November of 1928, with the help of the Radio Act of 1927, the regulatory campaign finally achieved the reallocations of frequencies and wattage limits, rendering the nation a fixed system o f radio broadcasting. Through the 1920s, the explosive growth of radio programming and the widening of broadcast ranges were reflected in the wild expansion of the listening audience: in 1922, there were an estimated 60,000 radio sets in American homes, and by 1929, that number had ballooned to around 7.5

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18 aggressive expansion of ownership of radio sets that would continue into the Depression years, made radio broadcasts a central feature of the national space. With the aid of relay networks established by corporate interests, people could hear broadcasts from across the nation, detailing news of national and regional importance. WGN, for example had broadcast the Scopes Trial in 1925 the first live coverage of its kind with the Chicago Tribune 142). Throughout the 1920s, broadcasts of ele ction results became a national pastime, with restaurants and even prisons organizing events around the radio coverage (Rudel 120 21). Such coverage mixed national returns and local returns so that listeners became familiar with not only their own local r esults, but also the local results being broadcast from distant stations. The network of lines and radio signals that made such broadcasts possible in turn created a network of listeners who were beginning to think of their national space in just a framew ork. technological, social, and economic developments, but also in the ideological and epistemological revolutions that typified the milieu. The recognition ory of relativity, for example, required new means of thinking about the relationship of space and time. And the nascent field of anthropology, once an arm of colonial expansion, strove to assuage anxieties about Western culture and overturn theories of s cientific racism by emphasizing a cosmopolitan appreciation for global cultural diversity, challenging provincial values of nation and identity. The advent of labor management

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19 and discipline pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford redistribut ed the linear, sequential flow of production in a traditional factory into coordinated division s of labor, forcing people to rethink the organization of the workplace, and accordingly broader paradigms of social organization. Across these various fields w e see the beginnings of a revolt against conventional chains of space, people, and work, and with the credibility of those old models deteriorating, a new organizational model would be needed to order the world. One of the moderns who began to articulate s uch a new organizational figure was Randolph Bourne. Bourne, the public intellectual and vocal opponent of the U S into World War I, concisely illustrates how networked dynamics were beginning to be recognized if only implicitly, even in the 191 in Atlantic Monthly in July 1916, Bourne pronounces the failure of the melting pot a failure that had been in the offing well before the war began, but that was more or less completed as the Great War took Europe and threw the U.S. into a disarray of divided became more and more firmly established and more and more prosperous, [they began] to cultivate more and more assiduousl y the literatures and cultural traditions of their and he is quick to point out that th is readjustment does not signal the total abandonment of what Americans believed about themselves: to recognize the failure of the melting failure of democracy. It is rather to urge us to an investigation of what Americanism

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20 It signaled, in other words, the need to redefine the U.S. dichotomous impulses to conceive of the national identity as a homogeneous whole or as a disarray of frac tured communities through a new figural model. The model that Bourne would propose is one that we recognize as a network today, though he did not precisely articulate it in such terms. To replace the failed metaphor of the melting pot, Bourne offered a ne w schema for thinking the nation: a comprised of all the various national clusters that refuse assimilation (115). transforming the nation into a network com prised of all the nodal communities of shared identity. This federation of cultures not the unified, homogenous melting pot would Like the etworked model is based on assimilation. But the directional quality of that assimilation process is radically different in the two ion lay in the past. It was something to which the Americans were to be moulded [sic]. In the light of our changing ideal of Americanism, we must perpetuate the paradox that our American cultural tradition lies the melting pot the common bond is a narrowly defined Anglo networked configuration of the federation of cultures, on the other hand, new entrants and new cultures have all the legitimacy of the nativist WASPs. Where the melting pot assimilates one into a static tradition, the federation of cultures adapts and mutates with each newly assimilated individual and culture. In re imagining the U.S. with such a

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21 hegemonic networked model, Bourne r eleases the nation from the inert melting pot and theorizes its flexible adaptatability as an ever dynamic network. Bourne believed that this federations model would be successful enough in the U.S. to be shared as a global model of conflict deterrence. H has dreamed of internationalism, we find that we have all unawares been building up cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cu ltures, from whom the sting of devastating competition has been removed. America is already the world federation in A note of American exceptionalism may ring in that cosmopolitan enthusiasm is irrepressible. H e conclude s his article with internationalist nationality, a weaving back and forth, with the other lands, of many threads of al 121). indeed, the hopes for world peace as a conceptual tool during the modern period. Had Bourne li federation of cultures thesis or at least critiqued the backlash against his cosmopolitan vision By the 20s, it was widely understood among intellectuals that the particular mode of assimilation figured by th e melting pot had failed. Bourne had company in ringing the bell for the melting pot in The Melting Pot Mistake (1926), both of which corroborated the decline of the sy mbol of unified national identity. But the turn to a nativist strand of

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22 Americanism during the 1920s sealed utopian network to thrive. In a speech in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1919, President Wilson tried to scapegoat immigrants for his inability to American thing in ldberg 24). And that xenophobic sentiment became policy with the 1924 National Origins Act that hardened immigration quotas in order to favor Asians. In this political the assimilation of the melting pot simply withered on the vine In a way, it is unsurprising that Wilson would rebuff the hyphen the fundamental is aligned with one of the familiar polarities of the cultural logic of modernism. Despite calls for the abandonment of the melting pot metaphor, th e allure of a homogenized national identity carried a strong appeal for many, partly out of nostalgia for some mythical past of an undifferentiated community, and partly out of refusal to relinquish the authority of Anglo Saxon formations of race and cultu re. This debate has typically been read as an opposition of provincialism and cosmopolitanism, but the different models of organization that Wilson and Bourne rely on are informative of the ideational models that were at play during the modern period. Ne ither is willing to abandon a sense of exactly what Bourne wrote

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23 against when he explained the old model of Americanism clung to a monolithic national identity that was hyphenate rhetoric, then, is symptomatic of the dialectic of modernism, and is part of the intellect ual tradition that Bourne and others were working to mediate with networked models for the nation. immigration and national identity or completely overcome the older principles o f a homogeneous Americanism, its networked contours were beginning to take hold among other intellectuals of the era. The leading figures of Young America, a consortium of urban intellectuals that included Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, Lewis Mumfo rd, and others, were invested in reimagining the social configuration of the United Our America published in 1919. Our America a product of exchanges of cultural envoys between the U.S. and France during World War I, takes up the work of defining Americ an culture to a foreign audience and strives to displace the traditional centrality of Puritan inheritance and to articulate anew American culture as it is Whitmanian no mountains and gardenland and desert swarmed by a sprawling congeries of people. To bound it is to stifle it, to give it a definite character is to emasculate it, to offer it a specific voice is to

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24 loosely upon networked configuration. genealogy, replacing the monolithic legacy of Puritan New England with a network of cultural centers. He locates a host of cultural situations that work together as an l centers gesture toward the diversity of American cultural inheritance, spanning the spatial, ethnic, literary, and generational dimensions of American cultural diversity. He provides close study of New England, the Native American southwest, Chicago, an d New York, as well as the contributions of Jewish Americans, Whitman, and the young generation to the spatial tion of American culture from one of alienation and incompleteness to something approximating ( Patterns 104). In coordinating this diverse range of sources into his visi on of a uninterrupted line from the Puritans to twentieth century America. Instead, Frank achieves a networked vision of American culture by drawing a connective web o f What is important for us to take away Our America nation figural successor to the melting pot,

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25 of the traditional cultural model of the U.S. Instead, Bourne and Frank are noteworthy in their recognition that the network would p rove to be a valuable tool in reconceptualizing the U.S. in light of the major shifts of the period. They signal, in other words, the not its apotheosis as the dominant figural meta phor, which would begin with the discourses of to reconceive of American culture, indicates the important work to which network figuration was assigned during the modern period. And while neither Bourne nor Frank deploy the language or vocabulary of networks as we recognize those discourses today, they both work on similar pr oblematics, defining America and American culture Even without articulating these models as networks, Bourne and Frank signal the nal model for modern intellectuals. While Bourne, Frank, and others were developing the ideational model of networks, networks were also being put into practice as an organizational principle in many fields of modern American society, complementing work li National Our America as another mode of intellectual history. The corporation provides one case study in the rise of network models during the period, familiarizing many with networked organization through their lived experience of the rapidly changing workplace. The traditional wisdom on the development of the corporation is that during the modern period its organization was strictly hierarchical, monolithic, centralized. Conversely, sociologist Manuel Castells demonstrates how co ntemporary corporations

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26 are typically held up as examples of the networked formations of the postmodern, global organized in semi autonomous units, according to countries, markets, processes, and products. Each one of these units links up with other semi autonomous units of other multinationals, in the form or ad hoc associate this fluidly networked mode of corporate organiz ation with the late twentieth century advent of the multinational, but even within the modern period we see American corporations taking on the organizational model Castells identifies in their descendants a few decades later. The Modern Corporation and Pr ivate Property (1932) the foundational study of corporate governance by Adolph Berle and Gardiner Means, measures some of the stakes of these nascent developments in corporate organization. The central argument of the book is that corporations have erode d the traditional institution of private property signal intervention is the separation of owning stockholders from the managerial control er are the individuals in control of most of these companies, the dominant owners. Rather, there are no dominant owners, and control is paradox, as the increased dispersal of stock ownership results in the increased centralization of power by corporate managers. This consolidation of power by managers, and by corporate firms generally was a major concern during the modern The Robber Barons (193 4), for example, studies the consolidation of wealth through the paths of captains of industry such as Andrew

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27 Carnegie, Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and others whose corporate firms heavily influenced the American economy so much so that they nearly constituted an oligarchy. Josephson laments the centralization of corporate mercantile agrarian democracy. When they departed or retired from active life it was something else: a unified industrial society, the effective economic control of which was powers had already brought about the Clayton Act of 1914, a piece of anti trust legislation that prohibited inter firm dealings that could lessen competition in the markets. But the Clayton Act itself demonstrates the role the modern corporation played in the emergence of the figure of the network. As Mark Mizruchi pu ts it, the primary goal corporation was worrisome, the potential for multiple firms to in terconnect and expand their sphere of influence demanded regulation. Mizruchi ultimately finds that the Clayton Act had little impact on inter corporation networking, but its very passage demonstrates awareness that it was not only the centralizing force of the corporation, but also the power of networked corporations that would require regulatory attention. 3 3 corporation interlocks increased in number from 1904 to 1912, but occurred irrespective of t Harriman, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Sr., and others figures died or reached retirement, the interlocking links between corporations often expired with them.

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28 In response to atomizing legislation like the Clayton Act and the ever present imperative to grow, the modern corporation began a process of intern al diversification the expansion of operations to house new, often unrelated projects within the same firm, acting as the inverse of outsourcing to sidestep the limits placed on interlocking relationships. Jon Didrichsen locates this development in the 19 20s, which saw the divisional firm in the United States. In the years which have passed since that decade, the strategy of diversification rather than that of integration, and the multi divisional as opposed to the functional organization have become dominant characteristics with the myriad technologies, manufacturing demands, distribution channels, and managerial exigencies of the new line, and this resulted in the decentralized, multi divisional model of organization that typifies the multinational (39). This organizational ly networked conglomerate did not arrive until the early 1950s (Didrichsen 39 40). Again, radio provides a case study for this organizational model. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was formed in 1919 by the General Electric Company (GE) at the behe st of the Navy Department, which was concerned about the British presumably, was the logical choice for this acquisition because of its deep pockets and

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29 its expertise in el ectronics. The link between radio production and radio broadcasting is of course only nominal, but throughout the 1920s, it provided a model followed by many other firms the Westinghouse Electric Company, the Crosley Manufacturing Company, Love Electric, and others that established and bought up radio stations across the country with the goal of building demand for the products they were already manufacturing (Rudel 31, 63 was seen to verge on restraint of trade, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was created in 1926, owned 50% by RCA, 30 % by GE, and 20% by Westinghouse (Rudel 93). Now separated into autonomous firms, GE and RCA took on responsibilities in addition to their original missions of manu facturing and broadcasting to include the unfamiliar work of entertainment programming 4 Through the mediating link of NBC, GE and RCA demonstrate two levels of networks in the corporate organization of the modern period: on the one hand, they are formal ly separate firms involved in internal diversification, but on the other hand, their mutual entanglement places them in an external network of corporate interests. Where the corporation of the late twentieth century is fully networked internally and exter nally, as Castells describes it, the corporation of the modern era presents a paradox of centralized and networked organization, r dialectic of unity and dispersal. The development of Du Pont during the modern period is anothe r telling case study. On the one hand, Du Pont exercised a high degree of 4 30 Rock (2006 presen t), set mostly in the GE building on Rockefeller Plaza where NBC Studios are asons he toggles schizophrenically between responsibilities managing a sketch comedy series and overseeing microwave product design.

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30 financial and operating controls over its production departments; on the other hand, the process of diversification led Du Pont from thinking of itself largely as a producer of chem icals and synthetic fibers to considering itself a leading producer in such disparate fields as photographic film and pharmaceuticals (Didrichsen 41 42). It retains the centralized accumulation of power that so threatened Josephson and Berle and Means, bu t it also shows signs of the networked corporation that would define corporate organization toward the close of the century. These cursory treatments of Bourne, Frank, and the corporation are but a small sampling of the emergence of networked models duri ng the modern period. As markers of intellectual history, they gesture toward the myriad responses to the technological, social, and economic developments that were demanded of the moderns and, equally importantly, they mediate the dialectical tension of centralization and dispersal that is the cultural logic of modernism These emergent networked figurations limited as they are in their capacities as essay, cultural criticism, and business organization are complemented in another form of modernist intel lectual history, narrative, that will be the subject of this project. Networks I n Modernism In addition to the emergence of networked dynamics in the work of public intellectuals like Bourne, culture critics like Frank, and leaders of the corporate world, modernist aesthetics provided another field for experimentation with networked models in the intellectual history of the modern period, and indeed mark another sphere of increasin experiments in the arts, such as collage in the visual arts and montage in film, and

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31 especially in the narrative experiments that I will focus on in the following chapters. Lik e the intellectual projects discussed above, American modernists were responding to dramatic changes in the developments in various fields of technology, the national and global economies, epistemology, and communities both metropolitan and peripheral chan ges that often led them to rethink the nature of their art and its relation to life in the U.S. and abroad. It comes as no surprise, then, that American modernists, whether committed to popular modernisms or avant garde experimental modernism, would find the network a helpful figure in articulating their complex milieu, and in negotiating the dialectic of centralization and dispersal. Before beginning to address the networked figuration of modernist narrative, I think it would be helpful to contextualize i t amid other networked experiments in modernist aesthetics that were in deep conversation with modernist writers, as chapters Cane U.S.A. trilogy (1930 36) will demonstrate. Collage, for example, is an umbrell a term for several techniques papier coll assemblage, decoupage photomontage, montage, and so on that share a common aesthetic of dismemberment, simultaneity, and integration, and in the process challenge traditional assumptions about surface and, as M Still Life with Chair Caning Fruit Dish both debuted in 1912, though art historians, to say nothing of the dispute betwe en the artists themselves, disagree about whose piece came first and remained a staple of global modernisms. But collage nonetheless acquired a distinctly American character because of its association with commodification, which in turn evokes the modern American milieu.

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32 Such works rely on a spatialized semiotics, creating conspicuous lacunae between some images and striking juxtapositions between others to foster proliferating relationships of incongru ities across the field of vision Often collage is d iscussed as operating on a simple, static logic of juxtaposition, when instead a work of collage creates myriad links of meaning on a more fully integrated model. Jean Jacques Thomas relates this to a hermeneutic of networks, writing that collage subverts graphic accumulation with cutups which, at the formal level, signal the importance of the deconcatenation of the verbal chain. Nevertheless, what is implied, beyond this empirical observation, is the establishment of new networks of significance 0). In other words, the creation of meaning takes place in the interstices of different images and materials, and this representational strategy can be read as an inherently networked formulation: the viewer must assemble the disparate images into some k ind of a whole by imagining the relational lines of connection and disconnection that make the piece a unified organism. Whereas collage operates spatially to produce gaps and juxtapositions that are interconnected through the relational lines of the netwo rk montage functions on a similar scheme involving both spatial and temporal breaks and linkages that the viewer assembles into an integrated, if not altogether coherent, unit. Montage is, of course, a formal relative of collage, and like collage it is a n umbrella term that groups together a set of techniques in film sequential revolutions, overlays, split images, mirrored images, and so on that deconstruct narrative linearity and challenge even the possibility of Realist representation. Montage was pion eered by Russian filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vert ov throughout the 1920s, and David Kadlec

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33 argues that it is an intrinsically Russian form, writing the defining characteristics of Soviet film, such as the makeup and pace of their m ontage sequences, were determined by material circumstances, including an a cute shortage of film stock duri ng the transitional post Revolutionary years 04). But of course montage quickly became a staple technique of popular and experimental film, al beit in varying degrees of intensity. 5 Like collage, montage is often described in terms of juxtaposition, wherein the production of meaning takes place in the collision of conflicting images. But again I think this reading of the form oversimplifies the whole, privileging local disjunctures over the constellar assembly of the entire piece. The Arcades Project ( 1982 ) itself an exercise in what he describes as scale constructions out of the smallest and most precisely cut components. Indeed, to discover in the analysis of the small individual moment the crystal of the total eve process Benjamin describes is best understood as a networked strategy of representation and interpretation: artist and viewer alike construct a web of meanings from the host of interconnecting lines that link the disparate images and sounds into a convergent whole. The common project of collage and montage lies in a dual emphasis on formal fragmentation and totalization a project that is a defining feature across high modernist aesthetics, and that reflects the cul tural logic of the modern period. This dualism is also one of the constitutive elements of modern American narrative. The fragment has long 5 e of the speed of his cuts (325 n. 20).

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34 been recognized as a standard trope of modernist fiction and verse, and totalization has been established as an eq ually central element in modernist literature. These competing impulses to represent a society breaking into pieces under the pressures of rapid social changes, and simultaneously to find a semblance of unity to guard against outright societal entropy coi ncide in the form, as well as the content, of major works of high modernism. As I have indicated in the brief discussions of collage and montage, and as I will demonstrate further in the following chapters on modern American narratives I believe this di c hotomy in modernist narrative can be helpfully articulated through the figure of the network which mediates the polarities of totality and fragment and draws them into a constellar system just as the network mediates the dialectical tension of homogeneity and dispersal for modern intellectuals like Bourne. Simply put, the dialectical entanglement of fragmentation and totalization is predicated on the constellar model of the network, openly accommodating dispersal and the nodal configuration of fragments w hile still insisting on a whole that takes the form of a network. For American modernists to insist on such a totalizing form does not suggest nostalgia for a mythic wholeness of the bygone past, some desperate longing for the simpler times of knowable com munities. Instead, American modernists used network figuration to rethink the very meaning of wholeness and to generate new models for grappling with the changing dynamics of the national space. Not only did these writers use this conceptual tool to reth ink the boundaries of representation as part of the modernist rejection of Realist conventions, but they also discovered their usefulness in rethinking the milieu of the modern period. Like Bourne and Frank, American

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35 modernists found in networked models o pportunities to articulate major societal changes and to expand the conventions of representation corresponding to the changing American landscape. The ideational model of networks, to gesture toward the case studies that occupy my chapters, could prove h andy in rethinking the changing configurations of race in America, in reimagining the interrelated nature of the class system, in redrawing the contours of history and historical study, and in re envisioning the core dynamics of democracy issues that deman ded reconsideration in light of the raft of transformations the modern period underwent. For one example of this dialectical movement of fragment and totality in the formal composition of modernist narratives, we might consider the short story cycle. The typical conventions of this genre involve a set of stories being linked by plot, character, setting, thematic patterns, relation to a commonly experienced event, and so on so tightly that the composite rendering of the individual texts deepens the componen t parts and the whole text alike. The proliferation of the short story cycle during modernism signals its stature as one of The Troll Garden Three Lives The Finer Grain Tales of Men and Ghosts Winesburg, Ohio City Block In Our Time The Bridge of San Luis Rey Tortilla Flat Mules and Men The Unvanquished (1938) to give but a survey of the many texts scholars point to when establishing the short emergen ce in American modernism.

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36 as well. It is myopic, however, to read them as fragmen tary assortments of texts because they always carry some sort of totalizing impulse that demands readers to of titles suggesting assortment or merely replicating the ti tle of a shorter work provides an early cue tha t the work aspires to some totalizing integration of the fragmented texts. Ultimately, short story cycles act as systems of independent, self contained pieces organized into a unifying whole an aesthetic syst em that today we would articulate in the vocabulary of networks. As networks spanning their constitutive texts, th ese short story cycles worked in a variety of ways to rethink national space Winesburg, Ohio Tortilla Flat operate on an axis of place that bridges center and periphery to create connective lines that readers could replicate in other The Bridge of San Luis Rey articulate modernist problems of temporality wi th networks that link together generations of development into a coherent system. In other words, by bridging chasms of time and place with multidimensional linking mechanisms, the short story cycle negotiates the modernist cultural logic of centralizatio n and dispersal, navigating this dialectical tension with the mediating system of the network. Some close reading of the scholarship on this genre demonstrates the degree to which these texts and equally significantly, the scholarly discourse about them dr aw upon networked dynamics. Though the form was well established across some 30

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37 unfamiliar to modern writers and critics, since it was not even the subject of a book len Representative Short Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century The scholarship that followed served to establish the short formul ations. in such a way as to maintain a balance between the individuality of each of the stories t in the genre sufficient and interrelated. On the other hand, the stories work independently of one another: the reader is capable of understanding each of them without going beyond the limits of the individual story. On the other hand, however, the (15). Maggie Dunn and Ann Morris argue that the short t whole according to one shape of a network: autonomous stories acting as nod es comprising the network the that holds the text together as a constellar body. That the scholarship on this genre arrives during the late twentieth century fixation on network figuration should come as no surp rise: as Ingram, Mann, and Dunn and Morris were studying the conventions of the short story cycle, the increasing attention to the ideational modeling and metaphorical significance of networks likely s.

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38 By and large, however, scholarship on the short story cycle falls short of a correspondence between the rise of the short story cycle and the profusion of avant garde The Dial and The Masses that, along with major market publications such as The Saturday Evening Post made the short story a bankable project for many modernist writers (8). But there is still room to read more complexity in the re lationship between this emergent genre and the milieu from which it arose. For the short story cycle is not merely the byproduct of trends in magazine publication, but a mode of formal experimentation that modernists could use to think the ruptures and li gatures that were changing the features and meaning of American culture. In Winesburg, Ohio for example, Anderson explores the stories of several different figures connected by setting, by their relation to the Bildungsroman character George Willard, an d by thematic likenesses such as loneliness, restlessness and grotesqueness. format In Our Time by contrast, offers no unity of plot, setting, or character: with some of its stories featuring the maturation of Nick Adams and others having nothing whatsoever to do with agonist, and with inter chapters that are still further removed from in effect a much more disparate set of texts than those centrally oriented around the township of Winesburg. But scholars such as Debra Moddelmog have argued that In O ur Time should be understood as a loosely coordinated narrative by looking at the similarities of plots throughout the stories, finding one in which we

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39 know Nick to be involved, and deducing that the others have been written by Nick under the mask of an al ter ego through a sort of meta authorship. 6 The result is that In Our Time poses a networked self that is assembled across several disparate texts not a static, monolithic identity, but a subjectivity built upon a constellar model. In both cases, at the risk of belaboring the issue, Anderson and Hemingway rely on networked figuration to represent community and subject, putting their formal experimentation in dialogue with the same conditions that led Bourne, Frank, and other intellectuals to use networked models to rethink American culture of the modern period. The prevalence of major market magazines in the construction of the modernist short story cycle prompts us to consider popular modernisms as well as the formal experimentation of more avant garde wo rks. Indeed, both popular and avant garde writers published in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and challenging the traditional dichotomy of high and popular modernisms. 7 In the popular works of the period, the use of networks shi fts from form to content often to representation of the public culture that thrived during the modern period, and that was itself constitutive of popular modernisms. Hegeman has argued that the modern period f social space than the one we now one that put a much higher value on spaces of public gathering fication projects that turned cities into playgrounds of nightlife entertainments, and the expansion of public transit all of 6 See Debra Moddelmog Author of In Our Time American Literature 60.4 (Dec. 1988): 591 610. 7 See Karen Leick PMLA 123.1 ( January 2008): 125 39.

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40 which resulted from the sheer human density created by urbanization (3 9). The result of these developments was a spirit of publi c exchange, as people mixed with unprecedented disregard for traditional social barriers like ethnicity, religious affiliation, or occupation; only persons of color remained excluded from sites of public culture. arrangement of social spac the bookends of the modern period, prompted moderns to rethink social formations, often with use of networked figuration. This public culture manifests itself in the content of modernist narrative in two ways that draw heavily on networked figuration: representation of public spaces and crowds. The heterogeneity that typifies the space of such public exchanges made for a popular choice of setting in many works. Raucous movie theaters of the nickelodeon era, cavernous movie palaces, the curious sociological site of dance halls, amusement parks attracting people from all walks of life, and city streets themselves these all provided settings in which strangers mixed freely, defying many of the quarantining norm s of class and ethnicity. Writing of 1930s Hollywood film, Rem Koolhaas argues that the hotel, another of these public spaces, relieves the scriptwriter of the obligation of inventing a plot. A Hotel is a plot a cybernetic universe with its own laws gen erating random but fortuitous collisions between human beings who would never have met elsewhere. It offers a fertile cross section through the population, a richly textured interface between social castes, a field for the comedy of clashing manners and a neutral background of routine operations to give every incident dramatic relief. (149 50) Grand Hotel (1932), but the same could be said of several other T hey (1935) takes place at a dance marathon, the entertainment fad of the Depression era. Here, the public space of the dance floor facilitates a mix of

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41 aspiring stars looking for their big break, the down and out looking for a re liable source of meals, and criminals on the run looking for a place to blend into the crowd. The system of interchangeable partners constantly invents new links between the dancers, and the patronage of dedicated fans forges links betwee n dancers and their audience, together building an interpersonal network out of the public spaces of the dance marathon. That the public space itself could function as the plot in social organization. For the public space is not merely an inert setting, but an agential force of networking: it forces disparate individuals into contact, and while that contact often falls short of intimate and lifelong ties, it fosters myriad transi tory links connecting each individual to the others through innumerable other mediating links in effect using space itself to create a social network in defiance of stratifying social systems of class, gender, ethnicity, and so on. In a related fashion, another manifestation of public culture in modernist narrative, the representation of crowds, focuses not on the spatial organization involved in public culture, but on the very specific social formation it produced. The modern period was, as Gustav Le Bo n famously proclaimed in The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind While the figure of the crowd was often used to malign the lower orders of the class system as hive mindedly destructive, it also provided a handy conceptual too l to think the new experience of urbanization. For example, in King The Crowd (1928) the crowd acts as a generic antithesis to the domestic good in that t as competition

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42 interior the crowded room. 8 For Vidor, the crowd is an abstraction of the urban experience that only exists as an implicit counterpoint to the domestic sphere. And at a further allegorica l remove, the crowd provided writers a figure by which to imagine possibilities for flattened, truly democratic social bodies. When the child David Call It Sleep (1934), it is a crowd of onlookers that comes to the rescue. Roth presents a cacophony discover n the rails f so ethnic dispersal that might only be performed in the networked environment of the crowd. The integr ated heterogeneity of the crowd marks it as a social formation tha t renders each individual on a leveled plane, relating to one another by interpersonal mediating links, instead of defining relationships according to social institutions like, in the case of Call It Sleep ethnicity. So while representations of the crowd ofte n 8 For a lucid periodizing study of the spatial theory of the office throughout the twentieth century, see aylorist Time and Motion to Networks of Design Ed. Jonathan Glynne, Fiona Hackney, and Viv Minton. Boca Raton, FL: Universal, 2009. 11 17. Electronic book.

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43 utopian charge, positing a field in which individuals are freed from institutional social barriers to create links of their own design. Characterological network s, the narrative analogue of what today we refer to as the six degrees of separation theorem, provided modernists with another way of familiar strategy enlists a large cast of characters, whose lives become entangled as they appear, disappear, and reappear in varying levels of intimacy with each other. Often the ligatures between characters are fleeting and cursory, or characters are only related through a string of mediating links, or characte rs themselves are unaware of their own connections to each other created by chance crossings. The contingent nature of many of these interconnections assigns the reader the responsibility of drawing the constellar lines between characters to articulate th e network that they do not have the perspective to Manhattan Transfer exchanges that take place betwe intersect, entangle, and diverge a strategy Dos Passos also deployed throughout the fictional narratives of his U.S.A. trilogy. Characterological networks offered modernist writers a means of rethinking t he physical boundaries of a knowable community, as well as the degrees of intimacy needed to maintain it a vital response to the rapidly urbanizing, globalizing world. From collage in the visual arts to characterological networks in modernist fiction, the use of network figuration is implicit. The artists themselves do not articulate these representative strategies in a vocabulary that today we would associate with the

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44 discourses of networks that have attended the digital revolution and the most recent pha ses of globalization. But these later discourses illuminate the modernist projects that anticipate the networked patterns and principles that would rise to prominence in the theory and representation of the late twentieth century. What I am suggesting, t hen, is not an anachronistic application of contemporary paradigms backward onto texts that have little use for them, but a study of how these modernist texts prefigure much of often fumbling in the dark to arrive at the right art iculation and even provide us an archaeology of possibilities for networked thought by reminding us of theoretical and representational models that have fallen by the wayside somewhere in the passage of the twentieth century Reading networks in modernist narrative is informative of the intellectual history of networked discourses, and will illuminate the distinct ways in which moderns used such figurations to deal with their changing milieu. The use of characterolo gical networks in modernist fiction like Manhattan Transfer 6 and to discuss the stakes of networked representation through the 1990s and 2000s, and by the emergence of hypertextual fiction, scholars have begun to codify the conventions of a supposedly new genre the network narrative according to a narrow slice of networking devices in a narrow period of textual produc tion. The first objective of my dissertation, then, is to correct this oversimplification of the genre by looking at its diversity of conventions and by broadening its period through the study of modernist texts that operate on networked organization or o therwise represent social networks.

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45 Poetics of Cinema (2008) is symptomatic of this uninformed confinement of the genre. Drawing on tory work on the genre, Bordwell tries to position the genre as solely an outcropping of the six degrees theorem. 9 Short Cuts Wong Kar Chungking Express Pulp Fiction (1994), and Magnolia Bordwell posits narratological claims that chance is the motivator of these convergence, and that their fundamental tensions are betwee n realism and contrivance, accident and destiny. Bordwell allots the bulk of his study to talking about the extent to place in a common time scheme, or describing how man y networks are related by an The notable thing about Poetics of Cinema is that while he makes perfunctory nods to predecessor texts like Manhattan Transfe r The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1939) and others, his impulse is to locate the network narrative in the 1990s and 2000s. And it is easy enough for Bordwell to perform this historical truncation, because the criteria by which he j udges the genre consist only of characterological schemes for constructing representational networks. 9 Journal of Film and Video 51.3 4 (Fall Winter 1999): 88 N The Way Hollywood Tells It Berkeley: U California P, 2006. 72 103. Both of these texts are rigorously anti theoretica l and anti historicist in their treatment of the genre, preferring a narratological approach to generic conventions. They are useful markers, however, of nascent attempts to codify the generic boundaries of period and convention

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46 David Ciccoricco Reading Network Fiction (2007) stages a similar truncation of the genre, locating it in the narrative production of digital environment linear organization, such stories demand that readers combine and recombine the different n odal units of the text to produce a more coherent, amalgamated narrative. It is a formulation that might seem well suited to the modernist aesthetics of networks that we discussed above, except that for Ciccoricco they can only take place in electronic me are less concerned with confronting the reader with mutually exclusive outcomes and helpful premise for approaching his objects of stu dy works from the Storyspace school, so named because they were written in the Storyspace hypertext authoring afternoon Daughter (2000). L ike Bordwell he places severe strictures on t he formal and historical spectrum of the network narrative genre. The point of generic classification is, of course, to limit the field to a set of patterns that texts have in common. In this respect Bordwell and Ciccoricco and the other scholars of whom I take them as representative examples succeed in delineating a very clearly demarcated set of conventions by which to group texts. To define a genre is a terribly messy business that almost always entails amendment and revision, so I certainly empathize with Bordwell and Ciccoricco when I advance a more inclusive formulation for the network narrative: simply that it mediates the dialectic of totalization and fragmentation with linking mechanisms that draw atomized nodal formations into a

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47 constellar syste m. Precisely what kind of networks such a narrative might use as a narrational model is variable networks of people, material or technological networks, and perhaps most relevant to the American modernists, networks of form itself, to name but a few possi course this flexibility is at once the strength and the weakness of such a loose definition, and for my purposes it allows us to read the networked dynamics of modernist texts such that we can expand the generic conventions of the network narrative. The texts that I have selected for this project follow that generic dictate in ways that are often radically different from the kinds of texts typically grouped together as network narrative s in contemporary scholarship. They rely on formal devices of fragmentation and reintegration to stage different allegories for national space as a negotiation of unity and dispersal. Or they use particular spaces and group formations, such as the hotel and the crowd, to theorize social configurations that reassemble generic conventions of the network narrative outlined by Bordwell and Ciccoricco, these readings not only locate the network as an important dynamic of modernist aesthetics, but also explore some of the techniques of networked figuration that are largely absent s figuration of public culture, for example, provide us with an archaeology of forgotten or abandoned methods of narrating the dialectic of totality and the fragment. The study of these lost domains of the network narrative genre is instructive of the gen network thinking.

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48 discontinuities of the genre over the last century, there are some continuities worth observing in rela tion to the conditions of network thinking. From my claim that the fragment, unity and dispersal, it might follow that the genre is wholly confined to the modern peri od, which at the outset I characterized as having a cultural logic of that very dialectical tension. While this dialectic is the dominant tension of the modern period in the work of intellectuals like Bourne and Frank, in the organization of corporations and the Fordist workplace, in modernist aesthetics, and so on it also persists into postmodernism. One of the traditional assumptions about postmodernism is that the ascendancy of the fragment is one of its central elements. But postmodernism is also typ the project of cognitive mapping 10 or in the more recent turn to the study of globalization. The presence of this dialectical tension in both modernism and postmodernism indi cates that the networked representation identified by Bordwell and Ciccaricco and the networked discourses dominating the work of Castells, Hardt and Negri, Latour, and others signal a residual trace of modernism a trace inflected to account for the digita l revolution and transformations in globalization, but a trace that nonetheless draws connective lines between the two periods of intellectual history. In one sense, we might be able to understand narratives like 6 Crash Syriana and Babel as demonstra ting a nostalgia for the public culture that was a key element of American 10 For example, in Postmode rnism situational representation of the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable The process of cognitive mapping, whether in criticism, theory, or representation, is the very practice of totalization.

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49 modernism, as I will demonstrate in the coda of the project. In other words, the persistence of the cultural logic of modernism the dialectical movement of totality and the fragmen t mediated by the figure of the network is what makes networked discourses of the postmodern period articulable. Beyond restoring to the network narrative the generic breadth that it is routinely second objective of considering what modernist experiments in networked figuration signal about American culture of the modern period, and how modernist writers tried to sort out their complicated milieu. This involves, in part, takin g narrative production as a network as a conceptual tool broadens our understanding of network discourses. Moreover, it provides us with a new way to engage the importa nt work of the American modernists. To accept the uninformed position that network narratives are a product of the late twentieth century amounts to consenting to the foreclosure of a major element of modernist intellectual production. For if networks ar e the sole domain of the waning decades of the twentieth century, we lose out on a rich dynamic that informed much of the intellectual and aesthetic production of the modern period. In situating networks as a central dynamic of modernist production, I aim to provide a new lens for scholarly inquiries of modernist narrative, and to align the way that we think about the moderns more closely with the way that they were beginning to think about their own world. The following chapters sketch out a reassessment of the network narrative genre through readings of modernist narratives both canonical and non canonical, avant

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50 garde and popular. These chapters do not share any steady develop ment of the network narrative genre, nor do they have in common any obvious links of influence, apart from their shared milieu. In fact, it would be fair to wager that these writers would oomer famously spurned any form of artistic affiliation, even rejecting association with the Harlem Renaissance before giving up on the project of creative writing altogether. Herself a staple in the celebrity press, Anita Loos traveled mostly in Hollywoo d circles, and her few sustained tie s to the literati involved H.L. Mencken and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Dos alongside the ambivalence of Toomer or Nathanael West, to say nothi ng of the latent conservativism of Loos. West, an enigmatic persona of nearly continuous self fashioning, had several ties to fellow moderns through co editing the little magazine Contact and through his visits to the Greenwich Village bohemians, but out of a mix of shyness and contrarianism he kept mostly to himself. Indeed, a cocktail party putting these writers into close contact would not be a pleasant affair. In the absence of an identifiable movement to group these writers together, or any aestheti c or political these texts is instructive, as it reflects the wide range of texts that rely on networked models across the field of modernist narrative production. In other words, these chapters map out the constellar quality of networked representation in American modernism, and the juxtapositions and lacunae created by the incongruities of the

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51 c hallmarks, collage. Cane (1923) as an experiment in networked organization that presents an allegorical renderin g of race in America. Comprised of some thirteen short stories, fifteen poems, and a longer segment verging on drama, Cane presents readers with serious interpretative dilemmas not the least of which is taxonomy. It is clearly not a novel in any conventi onal sense, and the formal diversity of its texts excludes it from being called a short story cycle. Yet its title suggests something more coherent than a mere collection of assorted works, and Toomer expressed reluctance to let the pieces stand alone, wr iting of anthologies like The New Negro Cane which is an (102). Critics have often discussed Cane Cane as a sort of textual fusion. Instead, I propose a reading of Cane that allows the autonomy of these texts and their interdependence a network narrative made up of the li nking repetition of phrases and figures that bridge Cane networked form of Cane as an allegory for the networked situation of race relations in the United States that stands in stark contrast with visions of race corresponding to the fused unit of the melting pot.

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52 Turning from the avant garde to the popular, Ch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) to consider how it stages public spaces as sites of best selling novel of the following year, and it created a franchising juggernaut that banked on its success. Blondes rode to success mostly on the back of protagonist Lorelei Lee, known for her inadvertent wit, her extravagant flapper lifestyle, and the suggestions of her promiscuity. But my focus these settings foster social networks. Despite the fact that their lodging priced out the vast majority of the American public, grand hotels had a reputation as public spaces because their lobbies, bars, parlo rs, ballrooms, and restaurants were freely accessibly to any reasonably dressed white person. For this reason, historian A.K. Sandoval multiplier effect: because people came to the same hotel spaces for many different reasons, there was constant crossing and commingling that exposed people to hotel that Lorelei uses to forge links to people from an array of nationalities and class positions. Acting as a dominant anchor of social networks that she creates around her, Lorelei, ever the social climber, paradoxically flattens class hierarchy into a constellar organization. Perhaps inadv ertently, Loos offers a restructuring of the class system that eschews the atomizing nature of caste in favor of a more entangled, networked vision akin to a cocktail party social sites. Chapter 4 returns to the study of modernist formal experimentation with an U.S.A. trilogy (1930 36). Like Cane U.S.A. defies

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53 traditional literary taxonomy. The trilogy traces the history of the United States from 1900 up until the late 1920s displacing linear narration in favor of four separate modes of representation that Dos Passos thought would more accurately communicate the spirit of the times. This narrational architecture, which Dos Passos referred to as a is comprised of four completely independent narrative the lived experience of the period through a stream of consciousness rendering of Dos leading figures like Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Carnegie, and the Wright Brothers; and fictional narratives that illustrate the period through a matrix of twelve primary characters experiencing different events and developments of the early 1900s. This contemporaries, and remains a contentious subject in more recent criticism. I think one links between these autonomous nodes of narration so that they cooperate as a network of narration much like the networked organizati on of Fordist production, which implications of my reading of U.S.A. different way of approaching the study of history one tha t prioritizes networked schemas over linear trajectories. The final chapter examines representations of crowds and the masses in The Day of the Locust (1939). Noted for its climactic scene of a

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54 frenzied crowd creating a riot, Locust is bu long interest in the signification of crowds. But even within Locust the apocalyptic gathering of the finale. The rowdiness of these crowds, reflective of the unruly audiences of the nickelod eon era that loom large in the background of this diversified and inclusive, the crowd is designed to assimilate each individual into relations to the others on a netwo rked principle of organization: no one stands about the multiplicity of the group. While crowds were a popular subject for West and others during the modern period because of their association with urbanization and Fascism, I rked organization is another part of its appeal to the moderns, as it helped them rethink the workings and figuration of democracy. narrative genre that focuses on crowd figuration so confined to the modern period that networks. The relative abandonment of network discourse focusing on the collective nature of the crowd reflective o indicates not only an historical difference in the shortcoming in our networked discour ses today that seem largely unable to imagine collectivity growing out of connectivity.

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55 CHAPTER 2 CANE Cane through the twentieth century is by now well known. Published in 1923 after having made the rounds in Harlem Renaissance, leading to a reprinting in 1927, after which Cane would be out of print for some forty years. But while many selections from Cane remained easily accessible in anthologies venues with which Toomer frequently had fraught relationships that I will explore in further detail below Cane itself slipped in profile until Arna Bontemps ushered it back into wide circulation in 1969. Since then, it has reclaimed its canonical position in American literature, and it has been the subject of numerous book length works of criticism. And the life of the author was as slippery and a major body of misdirection and misrepresentation bent on autobiographical revision. But while Cane history is still highly contested. Scholarly treatments of Cane are about as disparate as African American communities or the South, sometimes addressing its representations of gender, sometimes studying its formal innovat ion, and sometimes seeking the devices and themes that unify its discrete stories, poems, and prose. I take Cane as a marker of the cultural logic of modernism, as its formal organization stakes out the dialectical tensions of homogeneity and dispersal an d mediates them with networked figuration.

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5 6 Like many works of high modernism, Cane demonstrates paradoxical impulses in its reliance on formal fragmentation and its insistence on the totalization of its disjointed components. What is distinctive about Can e integration of divergent forms the short story, verse, and prose that verges on drama. These elements are simultaneously autonomous and interdependent, as Toomer links them together into Cane ganization and assembly. In linking these texts Cane Toomer relies on networked figuration, and in turn uses the network as a conceptual tool to think the meaning of race in the United States. Because Cane is r enowned as difficult to read and categorize, part of the work of establishing it as a network narrative will require an examination of the different methods of reading the text especially through the lens of its generic classification that have been applie d to it over the years. While my reading of Cane does not aim to reconcile all of these scholarly approaches into a consistent tradition of literary criticism, it will often locate within these different critical vantage points a latent language of networ ks especially in treatments of the text that focus on its elements of collage or try to reconcile its formal diversification networked aesthetics. Establishing Cane both in the dia lectical movement of fragmentation and totalization in its form, and in the circulation of the eponymous commodity cane throughout its content enables readers to resolve Cane as a network na

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57 American landscape. Genre: Short Story Cycles A nd Network Narratives Since its publication readers have struggled to come to terms with Cane and genre. Composed of thirteen short prose pieces, fifteen poems that include sonnets, ballads, and work songs, and a longer piece that nods toward the conventions of drama, Cane ents a number of taxonomic challenges. The dominant trends today are to treat it as a volume or as a short story cycle, but for reasons I will explore below, these formulations are insufficient for the major interventions Cane was making. Instead, drawin g on its integrated system of fragmentation and totalization, I situate Cane as a network narrative. While it was received positively upon publication, timid explanations of the strange assortment of prose and verse prevailed in the reviews. Robert Littel New Republic chose to treat Cane Cane is sharply divided into two parts. The first is a series of sketches, almost poetic in form and feeling, revolving around a chara cter which emerges with very different degrees of clarity. The second half is a longish short story, describes Cane v ). And a chorus of reviewers labeled Cane reviewer for the Dial y contemporary reviewers met in finding consensus on a method to deal with Cane beginning of a long literary history of

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58 The inability to call upon a readymade taxonomy is but one part of the struggle to identify a genre for Cane and it has proven a messy issue to sort out since the earliest Cane had the practical advantage of recognizing the diversity of texts it comprises, but of course had the disadvantage of treating Cane taxonomic difficulties reviewers had upon Cane ailable for reviewers to draw on, as it was not even the subject of a book length work until Forrest Representative Short Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century published in 1971. Perhaps part of the reason why this label so often sticks to Cane is that the short story cycle was such a familiar staple of modern narrative. As I mentioned in the introduction, many such texts would have prepared readers for the kind of work Toomer is performs in Cane and two of that number Wines burg, Ohio City Block (1922) were major influences specifically cited by Toomer. Given the profusion of such texts in American modernism, it would be convenient to situate Cane as a short story cycle. For many readers, Cane may be an intuitive fit as a short story cycle. But even sophisticated formulations of the genre that would suffice for the average short story cycle have trouble grappling with Cane defines the short story cycle a formulation that Jame s Nagel rightly says relies too heavily on the intentional fallacy.

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59 that contain continuing elements of character, setting, action, imagery, or theme that enrich each as a short vii ). Maggie Dunn and Ann Morris label the g a formulation that allows for devices other than the short story. As I argued in the introducti on, the short dialectical movement of fragment and totality, and in fact the mediation of those polarities through the formal composition of the short story cycle aligns it with the p roperties of the network narrative genre. The networked aesthetics of the short story cycle are reflected in the language of scholarship that delineates its generic parameters. For example, Ingram defines the short story linked to each other in such a way as to maintain a balance between the individuality of each of the stories and the necessities Susan Garland Mann argues that in the genre stories are both self sufficient and in terrelated. On the one hand, the stories work independently of one another: the reader is capable of understanding each of them without going beyond the limits of the individual story. On the other hand, however, the stories work together, creating some (15). Dunn and Morris (13). In each case, the formulation for the short story cycle takes the shape of a

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60 network: autonomous stories a ct as nodes comprising the network that holds the text together as a cooperative unit. In other words, the short story cycle and the scholarship that defines it are both inscribed with the cultural logic of modernism, navigating the dialectical tension of homogeneity and dispersal. Describing the genre in such a dialectical framework is unsurprising, given the short modernism, as that very dialectical tension marks the central cultural logic of modernism. Given the net worked properties of the short story cycle and the networked aesthetics of Cane story story cycle includes Cane as part of the genre. But Cane is clearly not a short story cycle. To call it so is to look for a comfortable taxonomy at the expense of the bulk of the text which, emphasis on se quencing would be to impose a linearity upon the text that precludes a Cane reliance a concrete plot, a shared setting, and so on that Cane does not deliver. What makes Cane exceptional, what distinguishes it from the short story cycle is that it does not offer a unity of setting, nor does it offer a dominant protagonist or even a unity of characters, nor does it offer a unity of form. Instead, Cane vacillates between rural Georgia and the urban spheres of Washington, D.C., and Chicago; it spans a set of characters who, with rare excep tion, do not interface; and it alternates between

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61 poetry, prose, and a drama like form. At the same time, Cane is not a collection, not which readers understand quickly enough that avoids assortment and aspires to some totalizing vision. For these reasons, and because the various guises of the short story cycle the short story sequence and the composite novel included are insufficient classifications for Cane I propose that w e read Cane not as a short story cycle, but as a network narrative, a designation that will help us understand the complex interrelationships of Cane Positioning Cane as a network narrative that mediates the dialectic of totalization and fragmentation with constellar figuration helps resolve some of the scholarly tensions independent, self contained pieces that are organized into a unifying whole. To read Cane and dispersal, but in a narrative of interdependence. That narrative impulse, as I will detail of prose and verse, as well as in the networking that takes place in the circulation of race in the United States. Cane is an ideal case study in network figuration because it relies on its connective tissues to an unparalleled extent, offering no place, no character, no plot, not even a codifiable form, b ut only a set of linking mechanisms to network the text into a whole. Networks O f Cane The vast bulk of work on Cane tends to locate two major literary influences on

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62 that Winesburg, Ohio It is a commonplace for Cane scholarship and Toomer biographers to point to a letter he wrote to Anderson in 1922, when he told the venerable short Ohio and The Triumph of the Egg are elements of my growing. It is hard to think of italicization sic] (18). The influence of story cycles would be easy to recognize in Cane especially if one were to think of Can e itself as a short story cycle out of reluctance to locate another short Cane the relationship between the two men was the stuff of literary legend. Anderson, famously generous with young writers like Ernest preface for Cane was the falling ou t between the two writers that took place when Toomer began to sense that Anderson was essentializing his African American voice and representations. Whalan finally characterizes this relationship as a cynical one: d bolster his career and help justify the a statement quoted genuflection to Anderson. More recent scholarship has argued for the central ity of Waldo Frank, and particularly his 1922 short story cycle City Block as an influence on Cane Perhaps because Frank was a lesser known figure than Anderson during the heyday of Cane in the 1970s, his influence on Toomer was harder to recognize, but a simple survey of the volumes of correspondence between the two men illustrates the depths of the

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63 Jean Toomer and the Terrors of American History fingerprints all over the manuscripts of Cane ideas and forms for individual stories, suggested at least the theoretical conception for n 1922, the two traveled south to Spartanburg, South Carolina together as they researched their work Toomer still working on Cane and Frank setting the groundwork for what would be published in 1923 under the title Holiday In a move that might later have driven a wedge between was trying to observe. And it was Frank, not Anderson, who ultimately provided Toomer with contacts in the publishing world, advising Toomer abo send his poems and short stories to, and setting Toomer up with his own publisher, Boni and Liveright, which published Cane in the fall of 1923. Despite all the proclamations of ger influence was likely Frank, who had a much more hands on relationship to the conceptualization and production of Cane Winesburg, Ohio City Block are informative of the networked logic of Cane Both are sho rt story cycles Winesburg a set of twenty five stories set in a fictionalized rural town in Ohio, and City Block a set of fourteen stories of people living in the same block in New York City. In terms of aesthetic form, they might bear equal influence on relies on disparate texts that are coordinated in the absence of a unified plot, character, or even setting. The fundamental difference is that Winesburg thematically insists on the atomization of its characters, where as City Block suggests a totalizing vision of its

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64 figures. Both works are populated with characters who feel alone and desperately isolated, and convincing readings of Winesburg can argue for the interrelationships of eir common experiences of existential dilemmas or through the metanarration of George Willard. But it is City Block that makes its own case for the interconnection of its characters, starting right away with its epigraphic the reader that City Block is a single organism and that italicization sic] (6). From the outset, Frank insists that his stories not be taken as miscellany, but that they be read as part of a tem hinges on the order of sequence, but even that sequential form allows for interconnections that reach farther than the gaps between adjacent stories, creating a totalizing network that is superimpose d over the base sequence that drives the reader throu gh the text. The totalizing vision driving City Block unanimisme a literary and theoretical concept belonging to the French poet, novelist, f Cane Romains detailed unanimisme a neologism drawing on the French unanime which La Vie Unanime (1908), where he framed unanimisme as the product of exchanges between material technology and the social that result in a system of interconnected parts effectively a nodal figuration of the network formed by human and technological components. Randolph Bourne, who along with Frank was part of the group loosely referred to as te about unanimisme

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65 its denial of the solipsism and isolation of modern life (Scruggs and VanDeMarr 79). Whalan summarizes unanim isme harmonious rhythmic system, in which the bodily rhythms of the population and the rhythms of the mechanized city became synchronized, melding the entire environment unanime City Block which culminates in a story about Paolo Benati, a 15 year old whose psychic visions have made up the preceding stories. His consciousness acts as facilitator of the unanimisme leading his short story cycle as depicting the invisible unity and spirit of the characters within the city block rathe r than the isolation and separateness of the characters in Winesburg ; the development of City Block was the revelation of an invisible unity, not the growth of an 18). Frank, w unanimisme so widely known that in a January 1924 edition of the little magazine S4N that was dedicated to studying Frank, two articles assessed his relationship with the concept City Block unanimisme The adoption of unanimisme in Cane may seem counterintuitive, given that unanimisme was so rooted in the urban experi ence for Romains and that the settings in Cane are predominantly rural. Nonetheless, many readers can find the spirit of unanimisme Cane that connection. It was during the summer of 1922 when Toomer read City Block and

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66 the experience radically altered his conception of Cane which up to that point he had been thinking of as a collection of pieces without any integrative force (Scruggs and unanimis me generalized beyond the narrow other, urban and rural, white and black into the networks that comprise Cane In other words, unanimisme provided the fundamental logic by which Toomer began to see the assorted texts of Cane emerging as a network narrative. But precisely how Toomer draws the unanimisme inspired networks in Cane is a messy issue certainly messier than in City Block where the connective lines run directly through the single, centralizing figure of Paolo Benati. The strategies of Cane network narration lie in the crossroads of its form and its content, both of which are famously fragmentary. But like many modernist texts, Cane tries to have it both ways at the formal level by asserting a host of fragments at the same time that it tries to totalize them into a unified system, mediating the two polarities with a networked figuration. s to appear as excerpts in anthologies 1 He allowed his pieces to appear in three anthologies of black 1 Cane reveals that another factor in those decisions could well have been his longstanding struggles with his nthologies when he like the boosting and trumpeting and the over play and over valuation of the Negro, of the products of the Negro writers, which we me. Not my own book Cane No, but few people knew about Cane Some, though, did know of the collections, and they had formed pictures and feelings about me based on their impressions of my work and name appearing in these oincidence that this period, when he was losing his taste for requests to anthologize pieces from Cane also corresponds to the period when Toomer began rejecting racial instead to be viewed

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67 writers throughout the 1920s, and a few of Cane anthologies from 1927 to 1969 as Cane itself was out of print, but he was generally unpublished essay from around 1932, Toomer accuses Alain Locke of printing the short The New Negro without his consent, and wrote of the Cane which is an organism, tensions between Toomer and these anthology editors underscores the in terdependence he intended to build between the different texts of Cane and that system of formal interdependence, as well as the techniques that constitute it, requires some explication. One of the primary ways in which Toomer achieves this networked inte rconnection of texts is what many scholars refer to, drawing upon visual metaphor, as collage. Indeed, collage is one of the dominant terms in Cane scholarship, and it is a useful tool note t he similarity to that so worried Toomer. Collage is, of course an umbrella term for many techniques papier coll assemb lage, decoupage photomontage, montage, and so on that have in common an aesthetic of fragmentation that creates meanings in the interstices of different images and materials. The result, writes Jean f

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68 In relying on the networked logic of collage, Cane effectively generates a unanimisme body comprised of people, the street, shops, cabs, public benches, and so o n, Toomer posits a system of literary forms. Not only does it integrate prose pieces, verse, and a quasi dramatic element into its networked system, but also these forms themselves are lues of a sonnet 14 lines with a turn registering between the octave and the sestet, where the focus changes from the beehive of urban density to the speaker, a drone longing for freedom but it rejects any conventional meter or rhyme schemes in favor of fr ee verse: off farmyard Cane of a traditional, European form like the sonnet with the more modern, American element of free verse. But instead the poem illustrates the juxtaposition of collage, which rather than hybridity is the fundamental logic of Cane technique is to juxtapose these two poetic modes the sonnet and free verse, the traditional and the modern, the European and the American to establish its network of significance, one that finds its locus of meaning somewhere in between these traditions. the text. The juxtaposition of Cane segments underscores the networking of the text by establishing text to text, node to node relationships that are the ligatures of the text. In other words, these intertextual relations are the lines by which Cane marks its formal networking schemes. Karintha,

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69 the eponymous subject of Cane cently lovely the rural way of life (Toomer, Cane 3, 6). There is no vulgar equation of Karintha to the flower of the poem, but the repetition of the image creates a line of relation between the short story and the poem a relation that has nothing to do with likeness, so much as it foregrounds the dynamic interplay of texts. Toomer deploys the same strategy of textual interplay through the figure of the Cane features a speaker returning to t he ancestral land of the South to remember the songs a similar figure, who ob prejudiced and stuck quasi Georgia from the North. Again, the repetition of the figure of the wayward son creates lines of connection across Cane not to establish a dominant theme for the text, but simply to underscore the interconnections of its component parts. The intertextual lines of connection are p erhaps most striking in the juxtaposition Cane language of lynching, describing her

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70 Cane 29). This is the first reference to racial violence in Cane and it is immediately followed by a deeper od Cane 35). The introduction of Bur demonstrates the logic of connection between Cane Critics often describe these interstitial, intertextual sites of meaning production as lacunae the argument being that there is a pur poseful gap in the text, say, between meanings created in these interstices can of course vary according to the subject and the arrangement of the texts that span the gap. In t he case of the pair of lynching pieces, the intervening lacuna could signify something like the unspeakability of the atrocity a hushed reluctance to narrate the event that later falls over Ralph Kabnis as his cohorts Fred Halsey and Professor Layman discu ss local iterations of racial violence however, is how they shape a spatial organization of Cane By inscribing these open spaces between pieces, Toomer reinforces the spatial figuration of the network in Cane Cane with its individual pieces connected together, sometimes across wide gaps, is precisely that of the network, which is defined just as much by its nodal interconnections as it is relational lines. The spatial nature of Cane

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71 visual form of collage, which deploys lacunae in between juxtaposed images to stretch out the relationships of incongruous im ages across the field of vision. While collage defines Cane of Cane establishes characterological networks of th ree figures: King Barlo, Old David Georgia, and an anonymous woman. Barlo appears as a traveling companion of the brief discussion in case, a series of appearances suggests a six degrees network of the social landscape in part one, which is all we have to establish the connective logic of that section since its setting is not continuous across the various texts. But this mode of network narration cannot hold the entire text of Cane together, because there is no overlap of characters between the rural setting of part one and the urban mi lieu that follows in part two. The second segment, absent any kind of knowable community in the urban settings of Washington, D.C. and Chicago, focuses more on the material, technological free verse poem depicting a technologically mediated romance wherein the woman on the other end of the phone line is part love interest and part personified mechanization: her body is the technology that conveys her voice. While he

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72 with your tongue remove the tape / and press your lips to mine / till they are Cane presumably electrical tape that binds her wire lips in order to embrace the speaker and electrify him, too, with a kiss. Toomer imbues this fundamental human interaction with a quite literal charge of electricity, drawing both the woman and the spe aker into an exchange that is simultaneously romantic and technological. The reliance on technological mediations of social networks in the second part of Cane should come as no surprise, given that unanimisme were largely focused on the exchanges between people and technologies that he found to be inherent to urban life. Cane argues for an historical mode of networking that links Father John, the deaf mute whose experience bears witness to the d ays of slavery, to the young generation of Ralph Kabnis, who himself is deaf to Father glares disjuncture is obvious, but what is most noteworthy about this exchange is how Toomer poses a challenge to readers to recognize this trans generational network where Kabni s fails to see it. The most crucial element of content networking, however, is cane itself. Cane is not just a mere image that repeats in all three parts of the text, as images of dusk and autumn repeat in the first part of the text and underline points of similarity in that

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73 commodity that circulates in the text. Charting the flow of a particular commodity is a means of sketching the lines of a network. One might take as an example the flow of Epic of the Wheat wherein the transmission of this crop links the struggling farmers of southern California to each other in The Octopus (1901), connects the farmers to the Chicagoan stock traders and spe culators of The Pit (1903), and draws the farmers and speculators into connection with starving wheat consumers of Europe in the planned but unwritten finale to the trilogy, The Wolf Through the circulation of wheat, Norris sketches networked lines of co nnection between southern California, Chicago, and Europe, demonstrating the interdependence of individual characters who have never met but who share a concrete interest in wheat, which is the material mediation of their network. The connective commodity does not, of course, narrating the material substance of the network. And in the case of Cane as we will see, the choice of cane as the material agent of interconne ction carries heavy symbolic import. In each of its appearances, cane offers Toomer a slightly different signification, and a study of these uses of cane, though exhaustive and perhaps tedious, will etworked path across the text. When cataloguing each occurrence of cane in the text, one notices that its uses can be loosely categorized according to the section of the text in which it appears. In other words, each section of the text has a general sch ema of cane signification that typifies the section. Accordingly the sectional uses of cane draw networks for each

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74 discrete section of the text, and its circulation across all three sections draws a network for the whole of Cane In the first section, w hich of all the sections offers the most textual occurrences of cane, the commodity acts as a place specific image, figuring themes of work and literally marginalized from town for having and raising two black sons, where cane is David Georgia, grinding cane and boiling syrup, never went her way without some sugar (Toomer, Cane 8). In its first use, cane acts as a cane is a figure of portent in the s Cane hrony of man and agriculture with images such as the (Toomer, Cane 15). of concealment for sexual rendezvous between the narrator and Fern and between Louisa and Tom Burwell (Toomer, Cane 19, 30). In the free of beauty to counterbalance the atrocious language of the last sweet scent of Cane 29). In addition to its place as sexual rendezvous for Louisa and

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75 Tom Burwell, cane has two appea related labor, and it is (Toomer, Cane 31, 34). The metaph orics of cane can be manifold, evocative of sweetness, fecundity, sexuality, and even violence. In addition to these, I read cane as a metaphorical device that roots these characters in their rural community, the agricultural labor that sustains it, and t he system of labor exploitation evoked by both. The second section, set in the urban milieus of Washington, D.C. and Chicago deploys cane as a figure of nostalgia for an imagined, idealized community of the South. Cane dream Cane cane is a marker of class, as down and Cane 59). It appears in the Whitmanian free of the sweet the strangeness of thei Cane community: Paul follows the sun to a pine matted hillock in Georgia. He sees the slanting roofs of gray unpainte d cabins tinted lavender. A Negress chants a lullaby beneath the mate eyes of a southern planter. Her breasts are ample for the sucking of a song. She weans it, and sends it, curiously weaving,

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76 among lush melodies of cane and corn. Paul follows the sun into himself and Chicago. (Toomer, Cane 73) In the appearances of cane in the second section, there is a nostalgic look toward the community and ways of living from the rural south that characterize the first part of Cane At the same time, the metaphori cs of cane in this narrative of nostalgia and collective memory may well distort the very community it looks back to, for the nostalgia for cane in this section relies precisely on forgetting its context of oppressive agricultural labor and the violence th at accompanied it during slavery and the era of share cropping. It is only as a sanitized commodity that cane can perform this nostalgic function. attributes to cane a vocal quality. Its vocalization first appears in contrast to Professor tale to its neighbor Cane 92). And shortly thereafter, Toomer re Cane 93). As Kabnis flees what he presumes to be a lynch mob, cane flanks his path, becoming an image of e [Kabnis] drives forward along the cane and corn stalk hemmed Cane 93). And in its final appearance, cane is again song to the South. Cane and cotton fields, pine forests, cypress swamps, sawmills, and factories Cane 105). the community dynamics it under scores in the first two sections, because here its

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77 vocalization means that it can bear testimony to the history that it has emerged around it. That cane helps solidify a narrative for each discrete section of the text demonstrates its networking effect at the sectional level. To read the trajectory of cane across these sections as a marker of community, as nostalgia for a disappearing community, as vocalization of the history of a community shows how its circulation throughout the text crafts a narrative f or Cane Indeed, the network of cane narrates the decline of one way of life, the rise of another, and the testimony of that passage of history. It is a common enough reading of Cane to say that it laments the passing of rural Southern communities and cu stoms, but to demonstrate that narrative being performed in the various appearances of cane demonstrates that the circulation of this commodity, too, undertakes that narrative with a decidedly networked technique. But even aside from this particular narrat these examples cane becomes a material networking agent that links the people, places, and practices of the text by its very circulation much like the circulation of tobacco, for example, offers scholars of trans atlanticism an entry point to mapping the Sweetness and Power (1986) studies networks of sugar production and consumption in staging his argument that the circulation of sugar is a central developmen t in the history of modernity. In Cane the eponymous commodity circulates in such a way that it draws relational lines between some of the elements of the text that are the hardest for readers to assemble, e with a network that operates at the

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78 verse, and the drama found in rural Georgia, in Washington D.C., in Chicago, and in the small town of Sempter. It is, in short, the material that is held in common throughout the text, and its characters, and spaces. cornerstones for capitalism, industry, and consumptive habits, but it marks a materially mediated network nonetheless. And precisely the material nature of this networking strategy demonstrat unanimisme is a system comprised of exchanges between material technology and human subjects that placed subject and object into a node network organization. Rosalind Williams describes the fundamental mater work, he is fascinated by the new ways of living and feeling he saw developing along with new systems of communication and transportation. The dominant t echnological presence in unanimiste poetry is the subtle pattern of city vehicles weaving an ever changing yet predictable network. (179). on bridges, trains, automobil materiality that brings people, commodities, and place into a networked system. unanimisme But cane is, of course, not an arbitrary choice of commodity for Toomer to circulate throughout the text. The symbolic import of cane begins to register already on the title page, in these epigraphic lines of yrup, / Purple of the dusk, / Deep rooted

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79 Cane iii ). A close reading of these lines reveals that cane is not only a material networking device, but also a figuration of tradition which in turn acts as the ligaments of a network that connect carries any prophetic or predictive qualities, but because it speaks establishing the and therefore can bear testimony to the passage of history. only embedded in the soil, but also in African American history itself, via the toil of slavery and sharecropping and also in the circulation of a commodity that was vital to the founding of the nation. Cane, then, performs two networking functions: it is the ligament that connects forms, characters, and places in the text, but it also acts as a group specific networking device that draws relational lines across African American group unanimisme takes a double form in identity. It is wi th this signification of cane in mind that we can turn to an examination of the politics of Cane after publi shing Cane Toomer rather famously began denying racial identification in bu t also from his works played a large part in the essays and autobiographical writings that followed Cane and for that reason some readings of Cane will try to locate that upbraiding of racial politics in the text. But as Scruggs and VanDemarr have shown,

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80 Cane writings mark a shaky historical record that is bent on biographical revision and self fashioning. This revisionism is particularly evident in the suppression of his leftist leanings in the late 1910s and early 1920s, they argue, and a lso in the muting of the racial politics he was engaged in as he was writing Cane identity as an African American writer was perhaps strongest in 1919 Cane but from his Call essays, his association with t he Washington, D.C., circle of Alain Locke, his decision to travel to Sparta, Georgia, and Given this window of racial identification, it is imperative to read Cane as inves ted in group identity unanimisme Cane litics and his vision of the nation. Considering Cane a s a network narrative not only bears out the central role of the figure of the network in American modernism, but it also demonstrates how American moderns relied on the network as a conceptual tool t o rethink their changing milieu A great deal of recent scholarship characterizes those conceptions of race as built around hybridity s post Cane of Cane Cane as a fusion of its component texts, such readings project dern American culture. Joel Peckham, for example, nods to textual hybridity when he writes, Cane Toomer attempts to enact a disruption of social boundaries through literary

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81 form by exploding the genre borders of fiction, lyric poetry, and drama. By forcibly bringing together the disparate elements of the text, Toomer exposes false dichotomies Cane a claim that he supports Cane attempts to take the position of what George a text that is both white and black, with a that makes its gaps and silences so much more pronounced, and so much more structurally central, than most other works produced in and, for that matter, Hutchinson again demonstrate the difficulty scholars have met with treat ing Cane Moreover, in their figurations of hybridity and fusion, this scholarship also represents one side of the powerful dialectical tension of modernism the pull toward homogenization that typified the period and that Toomer was certainly writing against. But arguments for Cane demonstrate. Karen Jackson Ford, in her book that reprioritizes the role o f poetry in Cane Cane resides in Cane that explores its efforts to break out of the fiercely inadequate binarisms of American racial discourse, I argue that Cane (13, 17). The formal politics of Cane certainly do reject traditi onal binarisms of American discourses on race not with a hybrid refusal of binaries, but with a constellar

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82 model that widens the field of discussion. Accordingly, we should replace the figuration s theorization of race. Readings of Cane very often follow this logic: that the form whether one reads it as a binary relation of prose and verse, a hybrid unity of different texts, and so on ejection of the hybridity racial aesthetics politics. If in fact the dominant aesthetic model in Cane is the network instead of the hybrid and if we can extrapolate that formal networking to a theorization of race, we arrive at a major intervention for how the text conceives of race and nation. We do not have to follow extrapolated to race, would carry the infelicitous tag of essentialism some kind of stability of racial identity and the inevitability of racial conflict. Rather, rendering American race relations in the p words as a network, allows the text to offer a nuanced vision of American race relations that operates at two levels. First, if we read Cane then th diversity that negotiates the central dialectic of modernism: that between homogeneity and dispersal. This reading is staked more on the allegorical level of form than on the lev el of plot and character, though we can still see such a racial interdependence in the both white and black communities, is clandestinely supported by both communities to

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83 na me just one example of a localized reading of racial interdependence in the text. of races offers many significant re conceptualizations of the possibilities for American across the racial spectrum of the nation. This of course does not change the reality of juridical or economic inequalities of the races, but it does offer a utopian mode l to strive toward. Most importantly, the network model radically challenges the mode of interaction between the races especially compared to the hybridity model to which many readers of Cane f racial fusion, the network offers a model of interdependence one that allows for the tradition of group identity, but demands the cooperation of discrete racial and ethnic interdependence makes the network an attractive figure by which Cane can resolve the many cultural and racial tensions of the nation and especially the abundance of those tensions in the Jim Crow South. Second, the networked figuration also operates as a model for the relationship of the individual to the whole. Cane ostensibly contradictory investments in individualism and group identity. Whalan an apt description of Toomer, who so often chafed at group classifications. But that impulse, set alongside his intense interest in race politics during the writing of Cane creates a node network relationship that is of

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84 racial and cultural conflicts, the network offers a model to preserve individuality while recognizing the collective proje the project of the Young America thinkers. Casey Nelson Blake characterizes that realization through participation in a networked figurations. Randolph Bourne and Waldo Frank took up Romains unanimisme e tried to a theori zation that bears deep likeness to Cane Frank deployed the networked dynamics of unanimisme as the model for City Block but he also drew on the network in Our America (1919) to illustrate the enme shed nature of the cultural constituencies of the U.S. Puritan New England, the American Southwest, industrial Chicago, and so on. And so unanimisme was but one strain of the net work thinking being performed by the Young Americans. With these Young America forebears in mind, it is not surprising that Toomer would turn to a networked figuration to think the race relations of the nation. That Cane

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85 sets about approaching that goal w ith such a wide array of networking devices both in demonstrates the central dialectical tension of modernism, and shows how American modernists used networked figuration to mediate the dialectical tensions of homogeneity and dispersal, and shows how they could use social organization. In the case of Cane the network provided the model by which Toomer could theorize a paradigm for a new mode American community one that negotiates the homogenizing impulse of assimilation and the opposite impulse toward networking demonstrate the distinctly modern crossro ads of politics and form indeed, demonstrates the politics of form as Cane tendencies toward totalization and dispersal act not only as an aesthetic principle, but as a theorization of the nation.

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86 CHAPTER 3 ANITA LOOS GENTLEMEN PREFER BLO NDES than a popular entertainment. 1 its first printing as a book in late 1925 sold out overnight, and Blondes eventu ally rang in second among the best selling novels in the U.S. in 1926 (Carey 95, Churchwell 158). Loos also by Irving Berlin, and even wall paper themed around her p 59). And the text itself was subject to franchising impulses. In 1926, Loos adapted Blondes into a short lived play that failed after little more than a month and garners almost no mention in scholarship on Loos or in her bio film adaptation of Blondes, starring Ruth Taylor, is now completely lost, a casualty of the transition to talkies that survives only in the sketchy synopsis drawn by an anonymous theater musician (Thompson xxi). 2 A musica l production starring Carol Channing that in 1949 began a 90 enormous popularity and at the same time reinscribed it, substituting the 1950s bombshell for the 1920s flapper and a traditional roma film, starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, that has cemented the popularity of the Blondes franchise. 1 2 In Lost Films motion pictures. Hastily released to the last theaters not wired for sound, many late silents had terribly short lives In small towns, silent films flourished well into the thirties, but for the big markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, soun d films were a fact of life by 1928. It is a bitter irony that the years that xix ).

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87 The intense popularity of Bl primary vocation was screenwriting, and her long career tallied some 152 screen credits a figure that does not account for the innumerable projects on which she collaborated and consulted. Biographer Gary C arey writes that unlike many of her s were limited to the occasional magazine column and a handful of Hollywood memoirs. As a successful screenwriter and authoress of a bestselling novel, Loos was a staple of the celebrity press, and was for a long time a person of interest in Vanity Fair. With each return to the Blondes franchise, her celebrity was rekindled such that when she died in 1981 the battle over her estate was the stuff of celebrity gossip (Carey 314 by the modernist literati letters of appreciat ion from James Joyce, William Faulkner, Aldous Huxley, and Edith Wharton are routinely observed in Blondes scholarship an bordering on mash notes gushing over her celebrity sta tus. 3 Yet like specimens of a number of other American popular American forms increasingly identified with literary modernism. Some of this is due to the obviously e xperimental nature of its use of narrative voice and perspective, and some to its sexual politics. But for my purposes, renewed attention to Anita Loos can help recover some of particularly those operati ng in 3 As biographer Gary Carey notes, after he first met Loos, Huxley would writ

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88 popular modernism. Blondes deals with the public spaces that were themselves constitutive of popular modernism. In staging a tension between public and private spaces, Blondes refigures the modernist dialectic of centralization and dispersal, with the public figuring the gravit ational pull of social concentration and the private figuring the atomizing impulse of the private domesticity. The relatively scant scholarship on Blondes tends to focus on feminist criticism, and with good reason: in dealin g with sexuality and gendered work and anchoring itself around two remarkably independent women, the text easily lends itself to feminist public spaces that undermine the hierarchies of social class and the gendered norms of public and private spheres. It would be easy enough to see Lorelei Lee as a sort of Barreca suggests in her introd uction to the 1998 edition of the text. But the upheaval of social class and traditional gender norms is not the work of an isolated, rogue actor. Instead, Loos unsettles these social institutions by privileging a flattened, networked representation of t he social, staged in large part in the contact zone of the hotel. etwork as a conceptual tool for thinking American culture. All T A Ritz I mmediate responses to Blondes and setting the standards for its eventual canonical evaluation. Probably because the Lorelei stori es garnered such attention in circulation, reviews of the novels

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89 characters and plot. This meant that the reviews did little more than observe the novel perhaps an artful dodge on behalf of the reviewers, who may have been wary of Boston Evening Transcri pt is rarely and sidesplittingly delightful: it is the kind of sly, sophisticated spontaneity t hat I mean it is very difficult for gentlemen like I to review a book like Gentl emen Prefer Blondes I mean it is quite true that gentlemen do prefer blondes. So I mean gentlemen like I are just the same as other gentlemen, and would like to go shopping with blondes, but it seems as if blondes would rather go shopping with gentlemen who have got money than go shopping with gentlemen like I who have got brains. So I mean it seems as if there was a limit to almost everything. (142) story at le and that his disdain for middle America colors the entire text. Carey even describes Loos as It is farce but farce full of shrewd observation and devastating irony. I commend it to rural Christians who would get an accurate view of life in New York in se of malapropisms, misspellings, and poor grammar that undermine fashioning nature of the protagonist, and the gold digging element of the plot.

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90 While reviewers were quick to frame Blondes as a satire and occasionally hinted at the sexual economy of the text, general consensus of critics like Lucie Arbuthnot and Gail Seneca, Barreca, Susan Hegeman, and Maureen Turim is that the meat of the Blondes franchise the novel paired with its film progeny lies in the sexual freedom of Lorelei and her companion Dorothy, and in the havoc wreaked by the pair as they make conquests of men and Blondes foregrounds the sly manipulation s of the aspiring authoress as she angles for material gain and leaves readers to guess at whatever it is she does on her end of the bargain. According to diamond and safire br Blondes 55). Her clear eyed, parodic depiction of traditional marital contract relations the exchange of sex for material security Dorothy, whos e primary interest in men, Lorelei suspects, has little to do with their feared by most women of her day independence, sexual attractiveness, male attention, a life unclutter ed by family ties into what she desires; in other words, she xviii ). In other words, her defining characteristic is her refusal to be confined to private domestic role s, and her adventures in the public sphere celebrate an independence many women of the period would find daunting. Given its focus on sexual politics and the centrality of its same sex friendship, Blondes is understandably a magnet for feminist criticism.

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91 But Lorelei and Dorothy are not content to wreak havoc only upon sentimental sexuality and the traditional gender roles of heterosexual relationships. They are also equally set on wreaking havoc upon social class. The upheaval of social class is in par t in entering the lofty ranks of the Social Register, in her pervasive anxiety over middle class strategies of improvement, and in her calculated accumulation of material capital the socially xiv ). But an equally important part of Blondes befriending of service workers, and their social planning t hat stages contact zones for the refined elites and the salty members of the working and middle classes a paradox of ascension and flattening that that I will address later. These contact zones a re more than comic relationship of classes. And to fully understand the operation of these con tact zones, we need to reflect on the symbolic import of hotels in turn of the century American culture. The Ritz, for Lorelei, stands as the embodiment of prestige and wealth, and it is the setting for many of her exploits in the U.S. and throughout her G rand Tour. Lorelei even establishes her own social advancement with a casual reference to the Ritz in the and he said that if I took a pencil and a paper and put d own all of my thoughts it would Blondes 3). But the Ritz of course was also a benchmark of

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92 broader signification. Turn of the century art critic Bernard Berenson coined the term of hotels, and the term captures the allure that the Ritz franchise had during the 1920s, standing for many especially during their days on the Left Bank as the epitome of high living during the carefree Roaring 20s (Montgomery the figural power of the grand hotel also referr ed to as the palace or imperial hotel that dates back to the Gilded Age, and on the distinctly democratized formation of the hotel that dates back to the earliest days of the republic. It is easy to forget, given the atomizing nature of the motor hotel and the faster paces of business travel and tourism that prevail today, that until the middle of the 1900s the hotel was widely considered a public space 4 even in the case of wildly decadent, inaccessible institutions like the Ritz franchises or the Waldorf. The clash between the public nature of its spaces and the inherently private nature of the hotel The American Scene (1907), his account of returning to the U.S. after some 25 years of living in England, Americans could have produced the aesthetic grandeur of the Waldorf Astori a, which he or at least as a sign that the U.S. was 4 personalization by breaking up interior space: a single flo or might now be endowed with a concierge,

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93 quick to point out sometimes with alarming notes of American exceptional ism that the hotel derived a uniquely democratic character from its public spaces. Jefferson The American Hotel: An Anecdotal History (1930), a sepia toned remembrance of hotels past, argues that unlike Old European lodging institutions that costing them a cent the lobby, for example, and even the bar he writes, hotels were the undisputed hubs of social activity in urban communities: centers of the general public, the favorite places for balls, banquets, and other affairs. This w as a heritage of the old inn days, when there was a lack of private mansions in which social affairs could be held on any sizable necessary to use the Long Rooms of the inns. In ad dition to being the accepted centers of social activity, the hotels were also the centers of political, business, and other forms of activity. (Williamson 9) According to A.K. Sandoval Strausz, the singular historian to focalize on the institutional histor y of the hotel, social functions at hotels were not exclusively the domain of the elites, but were also organized by political parties and trade groups ranging from fire functions the hot el still sponsors today, but that were considered vital elements of public culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because they were social centers for tra velers and locals alike, hotels acted as contact zones along two planes, putting ind ividuals into contact with each other, and putting a community into contact with the nation. Sandoval Strausz writes that this role in facilitating contact was the primary identity of hotels through the early twentieth

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94 century: ere the heart and soul of the establishment : the places where people spent their time, the part observers said the most about, the areas aggressively created these c ontact zones with spaces designed for expressly public functions. Sandoval Strausz, arguing that hotels during this period were spatially enacting the ideals of Jacksonian democracy, writes that lobbies, bars, and parlors were designed spaces of social he terogeneity that were more closely associated with the hotel than the accommodations of private guest rooms. Reading rooms, organized spaces. Above all, the dining r ooms emphasized egalitarian sociability so much so in large part due to the American plan, the meal plan that prevailed in American hotels through the 1910s. It consisted of four mammoth meals throughout the day, served for a flat rate included in the cost of the room upon long tables that spanned the length of the dining room. While Sandoval Strausz concedes that this free for hardly conducive to good ta construction of public space, because it necessitated contact between strangers at the table (169). While staying at a hotel was mostly an exclusive affair that demonstrated the private nature of the hotel, participating in these public spaces was not a key Strausz, comparing average hotel prices with prevailing wage rates in the 1800s, estimates that only about 20% of American s could afford a hotel stay a minority further limited by the

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95 racial segregation of hotels (64 65). But hotels found ways of maintaining a broad base of support: lobbies, lounges, and parlors were consistently full of non residents, small exhibitions wer e held to increase foot traffic inside the hotel, and drinks at the bar and meals in the dining hall were priced to a wide audience in large part because selling Strausz 65, 168). In fact, Prohibition sent many hotels into bankruptcy (27 28). So while an extended stay was out of reach for most, any reasonably dressed white person could make use of the facilities almost as if they were literally public facilities. Because these spaces facilitated exchanges from individuals of a variety of backgrounds and created a democratized, if exclusively white, social heterogeneity, Sandoval Strausz appraises the h [H]otels created what might be called a multiplier effect: because people came to the same hotel spaces for many different reasons, there was constant crossing and commingling that exposed pe ople to unexpected individuals and ideas. Someone who went to a hotel for a political caucus would also encounter travelers, their unfamiliar accents or foreign languages, and their styles of dress and comportment; by the same token, a person who ventured into a hotel for a shot of whiskey might thereby come into contact with antiliquor activists, itinerant physicians, society debutantes, or revivalist preachers. In short, hotels both focused and amplified the transformative power of human interaction. ( 261) rooms fostered an aggregation characterized more by social diversity and heterogeneity than class uniformity. The uniquely public environment of the hotel spaces was a common figure in literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, made all the more dynamic by the tension between these public spaces and the private nature of the hotel.

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96 Sister Carrie (1900), for example, various New York hotel lobbies serve as resting places for George Hurstwood when he needs refuge from the cold as he scours the city for jobs, offering stark contrasts between the success he aspires to and the status Carrie requires of their relationship and his downward mobility. In opening of the decadent new hotel in the onset of the Great Depression, Langston s and its exclusivity, Grand Hotel the 1932 film starring Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, sets most of its action in public spaces like the lobby and the tea room, using the switchboard and the revolving door as transitional figures to pass between settings and narrative threads. Architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas pins a host of narrative production to the o pening of the spectacular new Waldorf: 5 In the thirties when the second Waldorf is being built scriptwriter of the obligation of inventing a plot. A Hotel is a plot a cyberne tic universe with its own laws generating random but fortuitous collisions between human beings who would never have met elsewhere. It offers a fertile cross section through the population, a richly textured interface between social castes, a field for th e comedy of clashing manners and a neutral background of routine operations to give every incident dramatic relief. (149 50) Blondes certainly by Grand Hotel ral signification of the hotel as a public space 5 ring the September 30, 1931 Our hotels have become community institutions. They are the center points of civic hospitality. They are the meeting place of a thousand community and national activities Wharton 532 33).

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97 remained vibrant enough for Loos and others to draw upon it. public spaces to figure social movement is part of a long tradition spanning the major periods associated with the turn of the century, as well as their formal genres. At the same time that it figured the public in many narratives, hotels also continued to act as a staple trope of wealth and status. While Grand Hotel renders its spaces as contact zones between classes, na tionalities, and belief systems, the hotel itself remains a symbol of class stratification witness Otto Kringelein, a lower class man with a terminal illness trying to live it up at the hotel in his final days, though constantly confronted with the fact th at he is out of his element with the wonders of running water from the cold city in Sister Carrie hotels like the Wellington and the Waldorf also serve as markers of so cial ascension and material accumulation for Carrie, who is offered free a common strategy used by hotels to boost their prestige by publicizing celebrity patrons. As Justin Kaplan no and succeed, pluck and The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896), a provinc ial young pastor pursues his love interest to the city, only to be York where he fulfills his dreams of wealth and splendor at the Waldorf, awed by the jetset class. The allure of wealth, status, and spectacle associated with the hotel in this

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98 e Ritz and other grand hotels throughout Blondes These two literary traditions the hotel figuring the public, and the hotel signifying the prestige of private patrons converge in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where adventures in the public sphere fl out class stratification and gender norms. Lorelei uses casual references to the Ritz to impress readers of her diary, and she manipulates the brand allegiance is so g reat that the Ritz is a prominent part of nearly every stop on her grand tour of Europe to distract her from a rival suitor, the novelist Gerry Lamson. With Dorothy as her traveling partner, Lorelei leaves New York for England, disembarking on the transatlantic oceanliner The Majestic which she is quick to liken to her familiar hotel, Indeed there is a Ritz restaurant on board the ship, where Lorelei hatches a ruse to get the upper hand on a former adversary by gaining his confidence, learning his state in London i s the Ritz, where they make a celebrity sighting of Fanny Ward, and likewise the first attraction in Paris is its Ritz Hotel, where Lorelei and Dorothy socialize with the tour that takes her to Munich, Vienna, and finally to Budapest, references to the Ritz are few and far between. Her hotel in Munich is unnamed, in Vienna she stays at the Bristol Hotel, and the Ritz in Budapest is an astonishing exception to the rule: be at the Ritz hotel again and I must say it will be delightful to find a Ritz hotel right in

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99 Blondes 97). Relatively unexplored compared to the other cities she visits, Budapest t only offers one attraction, the on her, but on the cities that host them. When in London and Paris she observes the Ritz as her first stop, it is not merely to check in and drop her luggage. Instead, the Ritz Ritz Hotel and the Ritz Hotel is devine. Because when a girl can s it in a delightful bar and have delicious champagne cocktails and look at all the important French people in Blondes 51 52). As in London, she loiters around the hotel, clinging to its familiar environs, before adventur ing outside to tour the city. lampooning of her lack of cultural sophistication. Lorelei may praise the Paris Ritz as really is not even as tall as the Hickox building in Little Rock and would only make a chimney on one of our towers in (Loos, Blondes 40, 52). mapping distributions of wealth. When she arrives in the Central of Europe a leg of the tour that conspicuously groups together the former Central Powers the relative absence of the Ritz is striking. Instead of the fabulous decadence of a grand hotel, the first sight she observes in Germany is hard labor

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100 Lorelei slight pause to con sider her own privilege. Looking out the window of her saw quite a lot of girls who seemed to be putting small size hay stacks onto large size hay stacks while their hu sbands seemed to sit at a table under quite a shady tree and Blondes 75). This scene sets the tone for the remainder of the trip, which Lorelei finds dingy and uncouth. The contrast with an establishing scene set in a Ritz Hotel is tel mapping of wealth, acting as nodes on her network of the visible globe a global scene from which the postwar, reparations burdened Central Powers are largely absent. While Lorelei a nd Dorothy have but a fleeting encounter with laborers during the train ride into Germany, knowable relationships with workers constitutes a major part of their experience within hotels class strati fication. For if the public spaces of the hotel are designed for meeting and mixing, a surprising number of the contacts Lorelei and Dorothy make in their Ritz hopping adventures involve hotel service workers. In London, a bellhop named Harry is an integ flowers that Lorelei paid for herself in a tiara (Loos, Blondes the Ritz restaurant, serves as a confidant; he translates the dialogue between Robber and got tiara, so that Lorelei can

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101 anticipate their ruse with one of her own (Loos, Blondes 63). It is a tre nd continued in the 1928 sequel, and in some ways prequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes wherein Lorelei and Dorothy cozy up to Tony, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel restaurant, to onquin Round Table (Loos 139). And this is to say nothing of the numerous contacts the duo makes so close that she entrusts her with the all Blondes 13). At almost every stage o f the novel, Lorelei and Dorothy have strong connections to the people who work to sustain their comfortable lifestyles. To observe these relationships is not to imply that Lorelei and Dorothy are sympathetic with labor interests. In each case, a relation ship with a worker is the means to an end: Harry is a role player in the orchids ruse, Leon is necessary for Lulu performs the duties of the household. But that is th relationships, regardless of class, as each of her suitors serves as a path to some form of material gain. The important thing to take away from this set of relationships is that they are as sincere as any form of human intera ction Lorelei knows. She refers to these workers as friends, and she and Dorothy relate to them earnestly, and without any condescension marking their class difference. Such free exchanges with workers may reflect the anxieties over class that pervade Bl ondes

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102 class sensibility that is a common subject in criticism. For example, Mark McGurl immateri ). These middle class keywords often act as code for the carefully about the topics of the day until quite late, so I am quite fatigued the next day Blondes 4, 87). elling, as it sits South. In the introduction to the twenty second edition of Blondes pub lished in 1963, 55 ). Still later, she would say Mencken had a more direct h lower choosing Little Rock as the proper birthplace for the idiotic blonde whose story I was 96). But as Loos was much more than it questioned regional intellectual capacities

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103 rn intellectual cultural decline (186) and those anxieties loom large in Blondes Lorelei is self conscious of her class position, as her investment in middle class more direct case, she even attempts an outright revision of her own narrative: when reporters covering her engagement to the wealthy Reform advocate Henry Spoffard ask society gir Blondes 100). raises the question of whether or not Lorelei has deceived herself into this historical revisionism, or if it is merely a bid to consolidate her engagement to Spoffard, positioni ng herself as socially equal to his WASPy family. Regardless of whatever degree of self times projects the glamour of a society girl, and her patronage of grand hotels is key to t he realization of her WASPy aspirations. Not only does the Ritz offer the spectacle of wealth befitting the class status she desires, but it also affords her opportunities to mix While hotels offer Lorelei a chan ce to mix with service employees behind the scenes, they also offer her an opportunity to broadcast her status by ostentatious displays of mixing with elites and celebrities. In the London Ritz restaurant, Lorelei and Dorothy spot the famed vaudeville and silent film actress Fanny Ward, and hastily delighted to see each other. Because I and Fanny have known each other for about Blondes 34 35). The three of them get on so well that they go

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104 shopping together, and Fanny teaches Lorelei some of her fashion tricks a set of women adventuring outside of the private domestic sphere that is equally as important as the celebrity nature of the group. At the bar in th e Paris Ritz, Lorelei and Dorothy and Pearl White and Maybelle Gilman Corey, Blondes 52). Lorelei recalls that the first time she saw her future husband was at the New York Ritz when he scorned the scandalous actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce out of his d when she finally breaks things off with Mr. Eisman, secure in her relational exchange with Spoffard, she softens the blow by of me, because in the future, when he would see me at luncheon at the Ritz as the wife of the famous Henry H. Spoffard, I would always bow to him, if I saw him, and he could point me out to all of his friends and tell them that it was he, Gus Eisman himself, who educated me up to my statio Blondes 121). In the short span of the novel, the L orelei initially uses them to glean status and prestige from celebrities and elites with whom she brushes elbows, and ultimately she uses them to bestow h er own social capital onto Eisman and others who could claim gainful connections to her. creates networks of social capital by creating and highlighting connections to the ri ch and famous. But when this behavior is paired with her affiliation with the service

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105 Blondes rings an unexpected note in its own narrative of upward mobility: Lore navigation of these public spaces signals a paradox of ascension and flattening. On the one hand, as we have seen, she uses these spaces to parade her own material and cultural accumulation and display her connections to the elites of the Social Reg ister staff as if she were still maintaining connections with her lower class history, and without a thought for the scorn WASP elites would have for such conduct. In both cases, she carefully develops social networks a leisurely set to burnish her credentials of social capital, and a working set to help her establish those credentials. S ituated between these two classes of networks, Lorelei acts as a pivotal nodal exchange, bridging the gap between elites and workers, simultaneously rising up the ranks of class hierarchy and flattening it with her ambivalent affiliations. This phenomenon has been observed, if obliquely, in criticism of Blondes As I characters Blondes social indistinction and cultural the mean spirited tone and what sounds vaguely like a defense of class stratification, networked nature by which it is achieved. For it is not only her undermining of traditional tools and practices of social distinction her claim for authorial legitimacy, her

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106 that yield a leveling of the social hierarchy that Lorelei intends to climb. Lorelei achieves this flattening by drawing relational lines in all directions, with no regard for class status. But it is equally important to observe that Lorelei conducts these globetrotting an. In other words, the hotel provides a space for Lorelei to finesse the gendered boundaries of public life and private domesticity. Much of the feminist criticism of Blondes is and her negotiation of these boundaries is facilitated in large part by the public spaces of the hotel. Susan Hegeman, writes that Blondes arrives in a moment when the workplace was beco ming growing numbers of women were finding it either desirable or necessary to find work outside the home. Though many kinds of factory work were being gradually closed to women, jobs as secretaries, file clerks, stenog raphers, and switchboard operators were plentiful, enticing young women like life in her backstory, but her role as secretary came to a rather abrupt end when her boss Blondes 25). Aside s takes place in more leisurely contexts of travel, parties, and hotels. function on the Grand Tour is to act as proxy chaperone for Eisman, ever desirous of

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107 keeping Lorelei under his control, she and Lorelei both make a mockery o paternalistic impulses by using his patronage to fund their scandalous exploits. Openly mixing in the hotels with workers and celebrities alike, none of whom, one suspects, the two enjoy an easy freedom of moveme nt that is without conceding their aspirations for social ascension in other words, to mix freely without tainting themselves with working class indecorousness or worse, associating themselves with prostitution propriety. In a way, then, the winking nature of the text comports with a winking nature of the hotel that involves its strange role as a public and priv same time that it was a stout marker of wealth and respectability, often connoted oor hanger evokes an illicit brand of conduct that is associated with the hotel, the hotel ranging from the grandest to the most pedestrian has long had a reputation for unseemly behavior that figures nduct is hard to come by for obvious reasons, but Sandoval Strausz writes that there is a long record of divorces predicated on hotel affairs, and he notes that prostitution was so clos ely related to hotels that upstanding women had to follow strict propriety codes to ensure not to be mistaken for working that hotels were immoral. Asked why, he replie d that any establishment that sold liquor

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108 Strausz 204) a context that of course predates the Prohibition era of Blondes but that nonetheless establishes the orelei surely navigated propriety codes so as to avoid the taint of prostitution, but nevertheless these very significations draw on the public spaces, private rooms, and the risk of private assignations being made public. This seedy side of the hotel gives it a quite different function as a contact zone. As Sandoval Stausz writes, the hotel at the turn of the century was a contact zone ripe for cosmopolitan encounters, where people could go expecting the unexpected individuals and ideas equally exotic. And I might add that its reputation for illicit sex in its private spaces made the hotel a contact zone not only of exotic, but also erotic encounters. While her activities at the hotel never directly border on indecency, the hotel to disrupt the gendered boundaries of public and private add another dimension to Blondes lobbies, and bars, along with its private and potentially scandalous chambers, the hotel provi des a perfect field for Lorelei to exert herself as an unkept woman and as a social climber. In her pursuit of the wealth, prestige, and power signaled by the grand hotel, Lorelei challenges the public and private norms of gender, and inadvertently reorga networker of the social sphere. Cocktail Parties, Class, A nd Networks In her later years, after her screenwriting career had faded and her days as a novelist were well behind her, Loos turned to writing a set of memoirs and to regular

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109 conservativism emerges f ully in her nostalgia for the 1920s: nostalgia for romance, which she believes declined with the passing of the 20s; nostalgia for the vitality of the 20s, against the perceived sterility of the 1970s and 80s; nostalgia for the disappearing Renaissance Ma n; nostalgia for the old frontiers of 1920s sexuality, indicated in the Family Weekly giving advice t o modern housewives on such issues as avoidance of nervous breakdowns and the governance of unruly youth advice that seems well beyond her authority given that Loos scrupulously avoided domestic responsibilities throughout her life, and given that her cele brity was predicated on her association with the ribald lifestyle of the flapper. Gourmet Magazine in 1970, offers a glance at how her view of class upheaval continued even into this period of conservativism and sheds light on some of Blondes generation, opening with a catalogue of must have guests to create a successful party: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Mencken, George Gershwin, Tallulah Bankhead, and 7). Loos dutifully dishes on celebrity gossip to chronicle the scandalous behavior befitting the Prohibition drunk glamour of a Jazz Age party. For

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110 bloodcurdling misbehavio r; if Scott was inspired to climb out on a high window ledge, 95). But the standard reminiscence of bygone celebrity gives way to quasi sociological study when Loos tur ns to the role of the requisite bootlegger at such gatherings. The bootlegger, she says, was an integral part of any Prohibition era cocktail out inevitably, at least, if it was any party worth mention. The bootlegger, Loos writes, liquor would run o ut again and the bootlegger would send a confederate for reinforcements a process that could potentially be repeated indefinitely, bringing more and more of the bootlegging workforce into the cocktail party. And the bootleggers were not the only unexpecte d guests at the party. Neighbors would eventually call the police fact that they w ere crashing. One look at Zelda in the buff was all they needed to with an unpredictable mix of Park Avenue elites, law enforcement, and underworld bootleggers. s account, the introduction of bootleggers and policemen into the celebrity a hypermasculine sort of sexuality that she implicitly contrasts with the presumably effeminate masculinity of her celebrity cohort of Fi tzgeralds, Menckens, and Gershwins. It is a conservative brand of manhood that she

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111 idealizes, describing, perhaps to titillate the domestic readership of Gourmet Magazine shooting male se and one suspects, an overstatement if not an outright untruth of the Prohibition era that defiance of the Volste ad Act encouraged an unprecedented intermingling of different sorts of people. bootleggers and policemen into the celebrity gathering remakes the cocktail party as a scen e of heterogeneous mixing akin to the public spaces of a hotel. Of course nothing description of the 1920s cocktail party maintains the spirit of those public spaces, actin g like a contact zone instead of a closed private event. Her affinity for the heterogeneous nature of the cocktail party represents her interest in undermining class stratification with models of social exchange that more resemble a network. The atmospher e Loos describes for the prototypical 1920s cocktail party the continual resupplying of liquor for a party that could last indefinitely, the hegemonic expansion to draw in ever more guests, the volatile mix of different people describes several scenes in G entlemen Prefer Blondes as well. For example, after one (Loos, Blondes 7). And t he party environment attends most of the rest of Lorelei and far from sight.

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112 Dorothy decides i and her widespread sexual experiences further undercut any idea that she is only beginni a span of three days, is not a cocktail party per se, but it does involve all of the elements Loos would later prescribe for a successful cocktail party: social elites, bootl eggers, law enforcement, and a considerable degree of debauchery. Dorothy stocks the party with practically the entire membership of the Racquet Club, all of the dancers from the Follies, the Prohibitionist Judge Schultzmeyer, and bootlegger Joe Sanguinet ti and his Blondes 105). The debut is such an event that the celebrity press has really been very novel, because quite a lot of the guests who finished up at my debut were not the same guests that started out at it, and it really is quite novel for a girl Blondes 106 ). Lorelei seems to take pride in the multivalent contacts that she is able to generate and sustain. Aside from its epic duration, the party is noteworthy for two disruptive functions. ss intermingling, comparable to Dorothy anticipates that the integration of the Racquet Club and the Silver Spray Club y said that by the time the party got into swing, anyone would have to be a genius if he could tell whether he belonged to the

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113 Blondes 105). Anyone would have to be a genius, in other words, to parse out the partiers into their distinct classes. This interpenetration manifests in one instance, wherein the quartet of the Silver Spray Club mergers with that of the Racquet Club and the new ensemble wanted to sing songs that were unrefined, while they wanted to sing songs about Blondes 107). The squabble not only obscures class boundaries as the two clubs converge into one unit, but it als o upends the traditionally classed assumptions about vulgarity and refinement. in the i nterregnum of the private lives to be led under father and husband. That public nature is reinforced by the heavy coverage the debut receives from the celebrity press. w oman. The party is conceived so that she can trick now fianc Spoffard into breaking off the engagement so she can sue him for breach of faith. Shortly after accepting his e should not get married, and he should change his mind and desert a girl, and it would only be to set up an escape clause from the impending marriage. As with the public spaces of the hotel, the debut party provides a space in which Lorelei challenges her confinement to the private sphere, and provides her with an opportunity to invent some kind of arrangement by

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114 which she can finesse the boundaries of public and private gender norms an arrangement she ultimately finds in Blondes marriage to Spoffard allows her to pursue a career in Hollywood. Of the debut xiv Blondes Rather, it is the general rule of the text. As in the public spaces of the hotel, ex changes that muddies the boundaries of public and private, and that for at least a short to another not in a vertical orientation, but according to a constellar model. De that U.S.A. trilogy (1930 36) is the cocktail party, which effectively destroys coherent connections between characters by dimin ishing the connective functions of family, community, industry, or shared plot. Denning writes that in U.S.A. alternative to the domestic space that usually organizes the nov cocktail parties mediate between public and private spaces: the rooms and homes are U.S.A. and I want to argue that Loos manages a similar substitution, displacing mediations predicated on class and gender with the free flowing networked mediations of the cocktail party and the hotel.

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115 I concede that it may be nave to read cocktail parties as truly flattened social spaces where interrelationships are defined by the linkages of networks instead of class of the 1920s there was never a level field between the cel ebrity and the commoner had the bootlegger or policeman been privileged enough to stay around for a while no of social disruption insists on the question: what if socia l organization were based on were the rule? What if the Lorelei Lees of the world were free to fraternize with service workers, bootleggers, and elites alike and vice ve rsa with no regard for the confines of class or gendered boundaries of the public and the private? Sarah Churchwell reads such class dynamics in the interplay between the Lorelei stories and the ads that accompanied them in their original serialization i n Bazar The ads marked their thoroughly middlebrow products as aristocratic, which she democratic aristocracy in which believes, but Loos does not. The democratic aristocrat is precisely the fantasy of th e middlebrow, even Lorelei its corruption of the highbrow and the distinction of taste is not the only means of achieving it. This almost utopian potential is key to Blondes of social heterogeneity via networks.

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116 s use of hotels and the cocktail party to blur the boundaries of public and private and create heterogeneous networks demonstrates the centrality of mentioned in the introductio n, a central feature of the modern period was its lively public culture that grew out of newly crafted leisure time and the urban milieu, lit by advances in electrification and facilitated by the growth of public transportation. But the spaces of this pub lic culture are immensely important to the cultural logic of modernism, as the public gatherings created a centralizing gravity that acted against the atomizing impulses of private domesticity. In other words, the tension between public culture and privat e domesticity maps rather neatly over the fundamental dialectical tension of modernism centralization and dispersal, totality and fragmentation and the networks of public and private that Lorelei manages to create in Blondes perform an important mediation of those polarities.

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117 CHAPTER 4 U.S.A. TRILOGY U.S.A. trilogy (1930 36) is in some respects as epic as the work itself. Common, for example, is the position that Michael Denning takes on the tr wing admirers, while the undisputed sense that his early works are his finest made him a difficult from a radical political art to an apolitical formalism, and thus never won the allegiance count for a spike in interest in the author and the trilogy in the early 1980s: a 1980 Modern Fiction Studies special issue dedicated to U.S.A. biography of Dos Passos of the same year, and chapters in several books through out the decade. Nor does it account for the late 1990s revival in Dos Passos scholarship perhaps partly fueled by the 1996 publication of a Library of America edition of the U.S.A. trilogy in which Denning himself is a key figure. Yet on the whole these remain as minor peaks of interest, and in American literary scholarship the U.S.A. trilogy is not exactly gone, but is close to forgotten. Perhaps more than any other modernist work, the U.S.A. trilogy insists on a totalizing vision of its fragments, and a ccordingly its form offers a framework that turn of the century readers should recognize, if only implicitly, as a network construction. nation as a clear articulatio n of the cultural logic of modernism: a dialectical tension between the tendency of dispersal and the desire to maintain some kind of unifying

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118 identity for the nation. In this representation of national space, and especially U.S. history, Dos Passos expl ores the dialectic of fragment and totality that is the defining tension of American modernism. In a move that is representative of the centrality of networked figuration in high modernist formal experimentation, Dos Passos creates formal networks to medi networked configuration as a conceptual tool to think not only the dynamics of national which in part develop ch aracterological networks of fictional figures, place the network That the fragment is a standard trope deployed by the moderns is a truism among sc holars of modernisms. The U.S.A. is noteworthy, however, in its intensification of the formal experiments already seen in Winesburg, Ohio (1919) or in Jean Too Cane (1923), to name just two of the efforts to totalize its set of fragments into some kind of whole organism. To negotiate these two dialectical tendencies, fragmentation and totalization, the architecture of Dos from 1900 through the late 1920s. Thomas Ludington, the authoritative biogra pher of ject, Dos Passos offers something like a constellar model of the study of history.

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119 The distinction of U.S.A. employing four discrete modes for this historical narrative. As Denning notes, Dos Passos re some sixty eight Newsreels, fifty one Camera Eyes, twenty seven biographical sketches, and fictional narratives centered on twelve anchoring character threads (170). Denning ar magical unity of the title itself, U.S.A. architectu re seems to perform a specialized task in the service of that totalizing Newsreels offer newspaper copy, advertisements, and popular song lyrics to narrate the history an d zeitgeist of the period. The Camera Eye, which scholars often recognize as a stream of experience of the period biographic al sketches outline a punctuated history via great man of history portraits of Woodrow Wilson, Eugene Debs, Andrew Carnegie, Thorstein Veblen, and the Wright Brothers, to name but a few of the figures whom Dos Passos explores alongside their interventions into U.S. history and culture. The fictional component narrates the developments of the period through a matrix of characters experiencing different segments of the historical spectrum. versial among way

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120 f The 42 nd Parallel (1930) for the New Masses though perhaps not quite representative given fictional modes. as the lamented that the Camera Eye passages bear no strong relation to the character way conveyor Saturday Review piece on 1919 (1932) treated the non o f The 42 nd Parallel wanted to eliminate altogether the Newsreels and Camera Eyes from their edition (Ludington 287). New Republic review of The Big Money (1936) 137 39). Cowley even revisited that review a year later to argue that the Camera Eye segments perform the function of maintaining interiority that prevents U.S.A. from being fictional modes should indicate the ext ent to which the ambivalence of noise assessment prevailed among reviewers of the U.S.A. trilogy,

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121 What I find distinctive about this fo rmal architecture is that it offers a networked vision of the United States and of narration itself. Dos Passos de centers the character threads by introducing that element third, behind the first volleys of Newsreels and the Camera Eye that inaugurate Th e 42 nd Parallel With the plot driven narration marginalized from its usual position of authority, U.S.A. proceeds to locate its project in the interstices of the four narrative nodes that compose its vision of the United States. In keeping with the Fordi st language Dos Passos chose to describe the by filling in the gaps left by the other modes, but the narration is not as strictly linear as ve it. Instead, the narrative modes stage a complicated tension between linear and constellar movement, much as the actual Fordist workplace did in its reliance on subsegmentation. On the one hand, each separate mode unfolds in roughly chronological orde r, in the movement of a conveyor. For example, the Newsreels start with the dawn of the new century, cover the tumult of the war years, and move on to the first Florida land boom and other hallmarks of the Roaring 20s. And the other narrative modes follo w that trajectory, with the character threads presenting minor exceptions in the movement from one dominant character to story. But linear strategy of subsegmentation. The Fordist paradigm operates on the division of labor, where separate tasks are performed by separate workers on separate assembly lines, and that ture: a division of narrational labor that assigns four modes of representation to four distinct segments of narrative that move

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122 along as conveyor belts that are paradoxically autonomous and independent. That Fordist interdependence of distinct narrative tasks sets up a constellar mode of production. In other words, the structure of the trilogy is that of a network comprised of four anchoring nodes. We can see this networked narration on display in a sequence of each of the four modes in 1919 with each mode providing a different treatment of the events of Armistice Day. In the fictional mode, the action of Armistice Day is related through Joe Williams, whom we first met as he deserted the merchant marine in Buenos Aires. Joe is in France when the news comes, and he enjoys the exuberant scene was dancing in the kitchen and they poured the cook so many drinks he passed out cold and they all sat there singing and drinking champagne out of tumblers and cheering the allied flags that girls kept ca 1919 187) partly with his trademark womanizing. Newsreel XXIX, which immediately follows the Joe Williams piece, conveys the objective history of the event with headlines reporting the actual signing of the Armistice as well a House the crowd sang The Star Spangled Banner under the direction of Byron R. O so on (Dos Passos, 1919 189). The thirty sixth Camera Eye relates the experience of 1919 191). The biographical sketch at the end of this sequence is a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, and while the Armistice itself gets only glancing treatment

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123 1919 195) th e sketch neatly situates Wilson in the context of the Dos Passos, 1919 197). Still, the quadrangulated sequence of Armistice Day rather oversimplifies the networked narration that organizes U.S.A. Its sequential grouping, uninterrupted by other matters of history and experience that interpenetrate the tril ogy, puts the mechanism of network narration on prominent display, but the sequence is not fragments rarely provides such a concise examination of one punctual moment wit h such tight thematic clustering. More often, U.S.A. displays a more diffuse, more truly constellar narration of a wide the new century. One of the more pronounced issues narrated across the bre adth of the trilogy is the development of the public relations industry. The impact of public relations is demonstrated, in part, in the trajectory of the Newsreels across the trilogy. As Caren Irr shows, the arc of the Newsreels moves from news related advertisements that dominate The Big Money (53). The Camera Eye follows this alk the streets and walk the streets inquiring of Coca Passos, Big Money a founder of the PR field someone like Ivy Lee or Edward Bernays would not have

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124 b een surprising and f Passos, Big Money 38). Stabilizing those diffuse engagements with public relations in the non fi ctional modes is an anchoring thematization of PR across the character fictionalized America and one of many characters working in the field throughout U.S.A. are vital threads that establish the importance of PR in The 42 nd Parallel And while his featured profiles expire with the first volume, Moorehouse has cameos in the profiles of Joe Williams and Dick Savage in 1919 and of Charley Anderson and Dick Savage in The Big Money and these are but a few of the many characters who figure prominently in the PR industry. In both cases, the punctual event of Armistice Day and the development of public U.S.A is a composite of these fragmentary perspectives performed by the four narrative modes. But it is the cooperation, not the severance, of those fragments that is telling here. The four modes of narration in U.S.A. are not merely perspectivism, as in Wal vantage points from which to view American history. Rather, they cooperate as a network to reflect the very networking of that history. For instead of a dias pora of fragments performing abject disconnection, the structure of U.S.A.

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125 attempt at formal totalization. The formal logic of U.S.A. transforms the mo dernist aesthetic of fragmentation into a constellation of nodes, a network. The buzzword that dominates the bulk of scholarship on U.S.A. film. As newsreels edited by Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov in the Kino Pravda series (1922 25), and in naming one of his narrative modes The Camera Eye, Dos Passos invokes n avant garde philosophy of montage performed in Man with a Movie Camera (1929). David Kadlec observes that by the mid debt to Vertov was an open secret and that Vertov was proud to be known for influencing Dos Passos (307). Kadlec debt to Vertov in his 1928 tour of Moscow and Leningrad, when he attended some of backed productions of [Sergei] Eisenstien and (307). Montage remains a mainstay of U.S.A. criticism so much so that many scholars seem to feel compelled to integrate it into their arguments or argue against it when at his own writing an intrinsically satisfying craft, his omniscient fictional form comes from the

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126 collisions that underlie U.S.A ges the issue of montage, observing the many literal collisions in the narrative of cars, airplanes, and so on montages whose organizing principle is the collision between th ese equally inadequate system of formal experimentation. The aesthetics of montage are a foundational scholarly force to be reckoned with, as Tichi, Irr, and a host of other Dos Passos scholars can attest. Framing the trilogy in terms of montage provides a helpful visual analogy for the text and rightly asserts Dos it does not fully engage the logic of U.S.A. what many readers understand as U.S.A. the formal logic of montage, and provides a richer context for understanding Dos In the montage experiments of modern film and even the photography and advertis ements that experimented with the new technology of the half tone press in the 1880s 1 old meanings are overturned and new meanings are produced by different techniques sequential revolutions, overlays, split images, mirrored images, and so on. The produc tive capacity of montage, according to traditional scholarship on this practice, lies in the collisions it creates, in the violent contrast of juxtaposed images. 1 See Chri Montage and Modern Life, 1919 1942 (1992) pages 22 28 for a more detailed account of the lineage and evolution of montage in the visual arts.

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127 T his is the force of montage for Irr, who reads the four narrative modes as operating on an o rganizational principle of collision. A networked reading of montage, however, focuses not on the collisions, but on the collaborative moments the technique facilitates. Such collaboration is, after all, way co narration are distinct, to be sure, but they produce meaning in their collaborative not colliding or disjunctural narration of history, as in the networked narration of Armistice Day and other developments and events that Fordism, producing meaning not by violent juxtaposition but by the cooperation of separate functions that are simultaneously isolated and integrated, nodal and networked. Denning argues t is a critique of rationalized labor (170). But if we view this narrative architecture in terms of production instead of managemen t, then Fordist subsegmentation comes to the fore and we can understand how the four narrative modes cooperate. U.S.A. dimensional force of montage, but the logic of its productive capacity is fundamentally different from the theo ries and practices of montage that rely on collision. Disjunctural montage and networked montage both operate on a constellar model, but networked montage has the separate goal of totalization logy. And this networked montage may be a uniquely American intervention. Christopher Phillips argues that, in contrast to the European and Russian experiments with montage, by the t as a

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128 means to evoke the flux and discontinuity of the modern world, but as a way to represent a dominant social theme in late trends in emphasizing the networked interdependence of the separate narrative modes instead of their dispersal. Such an adoption of European and Russian montage into the c ontexts dialectic of modernist narrative, balancing the polarities of fragmentation and totalization with the mediating figure of the network. A networked reading of U.S.A. Moreover, it allows us to read in U.S.A. the playing out of the cultural logic of American modernism. It is no lo standard narratives for modernism necessitated by rapid social chan ges that demanded radically new means of representation or simply that it borrows montage techniques from avant garde film. Instead, we must begin fitting U.S.A. into a narrative for the emergence of the network as the dominant figure of aesthetic experim ents in high modernism. U.S.A. : The United Six Degrees O f America a clich commonplace of contemporary film and televi sion. Not only had characterological networking already been explored by others in the modern period, but Dos Passos himself had

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129 experimented with it in Manhattan Transfer his sprawling ode to New York City published in 1925. Ludington reminds us that i n many ways, the fictional element of U.S.A. if one node of the narrative structure weighed just a bit more than others for Dos Passos, it would be the character threads: between them, moving from one field to the Again, Dos Passos aimed to transmit the historical content of the period through the networked body of characters. The architectural networking of the form is matched in the networking of the content, with individual characters refracting the developments the primary nodal construction of U.S.A. through which the historical and social developments resonate. In The 42 nd Parallel J. Ward Moorehouse is the figural manifestation of the developments in public relations, as we saw above, and several others like G.H. Barrow and Dick Savage carry that banner throughout the remainder of the trilogy. Joe Williams fig ures the tumultuous war years in 1919 and Ben Compton does the same for labor movements during that fueled Roaring Twenties throughout The Big Money And the other key character th reads

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130 with a handy synechdochal figuration of the major developments in American history. And so the individual characters act as another system of nodes that support t he four Within the fictional narrative mode, the individual characters are nodally connected to each other not just to the broader networking schemes of U.S.A. to narration. U.S.A. takes a narrative structure that is increasingly common in contemporary narrative production: the six degrees theorem. Under the totalizing network of vast schemes of American history performed characters. disconnection. Michael Denning, for example, writes that the organizing principle of the fictional narration is disaggregation contemporary reviewers: Perhaps the most striking thing and unsettling aspect of U.S.A. is the lack of any coherent connection between the characters: no family or set of families constitutes the world of the novel; no town, no neighborhood, or city serves as a knowable community; no industry of business, no university or film colony unites public and priv ate lives; and no plot, murder, or inheritance links the separate destinies. (182) And for that reason, Denning concludes that the fundamental social unit of U.S.A. is a cocktail party, a function that, he argues, marks the climax of each of the three volu mes. U.S.A. the

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131 party is not only a social structure and a symbolic space, it is a nar rative kernel, one of characters interrelate, Denning argues, their fundamental disconnections override the ligatures that hold them together. aggregation in the locus of the cocktail party is warranted, given the profile of literal cocktail parties in the culmination of each volume and in the aura of socialite Eveline Hutchins, and given the figurative cocktail party of to u who have but little in common throughout the trilogy (Dos Passos, Big Money 444). And it is a reading to which I am sympathetic, as it serviceably addresses the lack of organic connections throughout the s reading does not go far enough in explaining the logic of the U.S.A. is a false projection of a traditionally ordered narrat ive. Instead, making sense of that disaggregation on its own terms is If one is grasping for a handy figure to reconcile the characters who appear and reappear, who gather and diverge, whos e connections to each other are so often mediated by third parties, one need look no further than the network. Let us consider Bingham enjoy the spotlight of a chapter tit led after his name. Instead, we only see him through the character The 42 nd Parallel The Big Money but memorable. Mac answers a want ad listed f or The Truthseeker Literary Distributing

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132 Co., Inc. by Emmanuel R. Bingham, D.D. They travel the countryside, posing as purveyors of moral pamphlets but are quick to advertise other, less pious wares: Bingham stocks such scandalous tracts as The Queen of the White Slaves and tells one freely, describing the deplorable licentiousness of life in the big cities, ranging from a dollar to five dollars. The Complete Sexology of Dr. Burnside 42 nd and abandons Mac to fend for himself. He does not resurface until deep into The Big Money when Dick Savage is assigned to h andle a public relations account for medication and diets appearance is fleeting. Bingham, the advocate of clean liv ing, convinces Savage to account. His only subsequent appearance in the text is indirect, as Savage and the Moorehouse PR firm lobby food legislation on his behalf and arrange favorable publicity on radio and newsreels though not, I should clarify, the Newsreels of the complementary narrative mode. the kind of detail common in characterological networks that for some smacks of contrivance, and that for has no family or community ties to bind him t o other characters. In fact, his wandering lifestyle may make Bingham one of the most fully disaggregated of all of U.S.A.

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133 characters. And his social isolation is reinforced by his complete marginalization from s: Bingham is unnecessary to demonstrate the frequency of such tangential crisscrossing is any indication, the network of relationships Mac to Bingham to Savage to Moorehouse to Charley Anderson, and so on is the important discovery that Dos Passos wants to reinforce with characters like Bingham. As I suggested earlier, that very networking is the basic unit of social organization within the fictional mode of organize the novel makes for an important reconception of the nation one that decentralizes the national space to rearticulate notions of community, rootedness, and belonging. A major aspect of that networked conceptualization is the contingency that runs throughout the fictional narrative mode. The appear ances and reappearances, the meetings and departures these nodal connections tend to take place by chance. s, Dick activist Ben Compton, and aspiring actress Margo Dowling an improbably wide and inclusive social circle to travel in. Or, to belabor the point with one particularly rich case indeed, the party that concludes The Big Money Mary French briefly glimpses Margo Dowling.

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134 House and her advocacy for Sacco and Vanzetti, and Dowling has been something of a foil character, self involved and materialistic in her fervent pursuit of stardom. The connection is a s regular as those of a porcelain doll under a mass of paleblond hair turn for a second to smile at Big Money 442). Mary and Margo are not introduced, and have really no awareness of eac h other, sparks at the cocktail party. The very lack of intimacy in this last connection gets to the heart of what many criticize as disorganization, disaggregation, or ato mization in the fictional narrative mode. Without a shared community of place or work, without a common relation to an ongoing plot, and without so much as an introduction, it is hard to see any connection between Mary and Margo. In fact, the only thing they have in common is Eveline Hutchins, their mediating link. This dearth of intimacy gets to the issue of knowability, the lack of which Denning finds so troubling. It is true: whatever connections there are between these characters, there is rarely e nough to constitute a knowable community. Even in the case of family, most characters carry a high degree of estrangement: Joe Dowling, Mary French nearly all of the major char acters are deeply alienated from their families in some way or another. And in the absence of any knowable community to assemble these characters, one might not be completely mistaken to conclude that contingency is the organizing principle of the social in the fictional narration.

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135 It is a mistake, however, to read the shortages of intimacy and knowability as constituting a narrative of dispersal. Instead, the fictional mode of U.S.A. insists on the interconnectivity of its networked characters, and while those relationships may lack totalizing impulse. As with the fragmented narration of U.S.A. the fictional mode of narration are best understood as pol arities of a dialectical tension between dispersal and unity a tension mediated by the networks that connect the characters and the polarities themselves. Moreover, the fleeting encounter between Mary and Margo demonstrates the important work of charactero logical networks as a conceptual tool. Precisely because institutions such as class or ethnicity, their relations hold forth a flattening of the social sphere. In other wor ds, absent of relational determinants, these characters mix freely and are able to invent new affiliations and new social formations. It is hard to imagine another context in which a lowly labor activist like Mary could inhabit the same space as a rising bourgeois as it is in her practice also carries the potential of creating new groups that her politics cannot control and that might well subvert hierarchies of class, r ace, work, and gender in ways that she might not imagine. None of this is to say that rs insist on the possibility of new social formations rising out of radically flattened social bodies.

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136 Recognizing the stabilization of these diasporic figures into a network is key to understanding the connective logic that prevails in U.S.A. and that is the defining their interconnection is not to say that they are, in fact, disconnected. The feelings of alienation are undeniable, especially regarding relations to their fa milies, but it is also clear that Dos Passos strives to show their networked interrelations to the reader. This networked reading not only resolves misgivings one might have concerning the ligns the project of his modes of narration. Above all, a networked reading of U.S.A. enables us to perceive the interconnections that do take place in the absence of l igatures such as place or family. It would be unsound to label these relationships intimate or knowable, but it g the networking of these characters enables readers of U.S.A. to grasp the social scale theorized by Dos Passos, one that holds out the potential for radically new means of social affiliation. Network s O f History The U.S.A. tworks the fictional mode defining tension of the period, the dialecti c of unity and dispersal, totality and fragment. rethink national space in response to dramatic changes initiated by the s social, economic, and technolog ical developments. Alongside similar projects to rethink

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137 national space and the organization of national community via the figure of the network from intellectuals like Randolph Bourne, and alongside technological developments such as the radio that compe lled Americans to rethink their interconnections to each importance of networked figuration to bridge its two polarities. And as a marker of intellectual history, U.S.A. makes a unique intervention into network thinkin g, inscribing the central dialectical tension of modernism onto the very work of historical analysis. Aside from its radical formal innovation, U.S.A. as a conceptual tool not only to imagine new formations of the national space, but also to rethink the work of history. For Denning, the meat of Dos a reasonable assertion given Dos argues that each mode of narration, each node of U.S.A. Eye performs the wo of the period, and the character 72). This U.S.A. narrates the decline and fall of t he Lincoln republic, but it would be myopic to assume that this narrational strategy applies only to the content of U.S.A. U.S.A. trilogy as a kind of historical documen tary, but I want to argue that the ramifications of U.S.A.

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138 The Newsreels, as Irr has show n, turn more and more from news reporting to advertisements. The role of the Camera Eye is progressively diminished there are twenty seven in The 42 nd Parallel fifteen in 1919 and only nine in The Big Money showing a demotion of the importance of interi ority throughout the trilogy. The character threads follow a movement toward decay and corruption, with The Big Money marking a finale of failures: Charley Anderson dies of peritonitis, Margo Dowling cannot make the jump into talkies and is headed for ob scurity, Dick Savage prepares to take French is so disillusioned with her social work that she considers suicide. The biographical sketches chart a similar path, progress ively focusing less on thinkers, inventors, and labor heroes, and more on monopolists and captains of industry. demonstrates that they share a common project what Denning wou ld call the narration of the decline and fall of the Lincoln republic. But it takes another step to discern what exactly each narrative mode is doing to advance that project. The Newsreels ruminate on the problem of the apparatus of culture and its compl icity in the rise of a new consumer society. The Camera Eye focuses on subjectivity, and illustrates its diminishment in an age of reification. The character threads narrate the struggles of workers, though it would be hard to characterize all of them as working class given the diversity of work performed by the various figures. And the biographical sketches act as figurations of the ruling class, as captains of industry ascend over inventors, thinkers, In each case, the narrative mode operates within the boundaries of one corner or another of the politics of capital. In

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139 other words, U.S.A. early twentieth century, but moreover with the ve ry project of historical materialist analysis. Such an approach to the study of history is not without precedent among Dos oraries. Walter Benjamin, ever committed to the figuration of the constellation, explores the constellar nature of h istory in several of his later works For suicide, Benjamin writes, Historicism contents itself with establishing a causal connection between various moments in history. But no fact that is a cause is for that very reason historical. It became historical posthumously, as it were, through events that may be separated from it by thousands of years. A historian who takes this as his point of departure stops telling the se quence of events like the beads of a rosary. Instead, he grasps the constellation which his own era has formed with a definite earlier one. (263) In other words, the study of history is not the ossification of a continuum of inevitable events, but a stud y of the breaks and disjunctures of history as well as the ligatures that give it shape. That understanding of historicism is also evident in The Arcades Project Drawi ng on the networked constitution of montage, Benjamin calls for a constellar methodology of historicism to take root in the Marxist tradition: The first stage in this undertaking will be to carry over the principle of montage into history. That is, to ass emble large scale constructions out of the smallest and most precisely cut components. Indeed, to discover in the analysis of the small individual moment, the crystal of the total event. And, therefore, to break with vulgar historical naturalism. To gra sp the construction of history as such. ( Arcades 461 ) but as a constellar assembly of various paths taken and abandoned across time. It is a

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140 conception of history that is symptomatic of the dialectic of modernism in its refusal of a monolithic narrative of history, and in its reliance on networked figuration to mediate that falsely unified narrative linearity. One might add that such a conceptualization of history c arried a similar appeal for both Dos Passos and Benjamin. As a rejection of linear inevitability, this model of history turns the focus of study to alternate paths that might have been taken a sort of counterfactual that would have appealed to Dos Passos in his lament for the Lincoln republic, or to Benjamin in his despair at the rise of Fascism in Europe. U.S.A. never indulges in outright counterfactual fantasy, as the ultimate state of ruination and failure of the Lincoln republic demonstrates. But Dos heterogeneity of history gestures toward the different routes the U.S. could have taken: interest as an entertainer, but also in her advocacy for Sacco and Vanzetti paths and others as equally viable elements of a networked system. Moreover, it would be wrong to conclude that a networked mode l of historicism texture of history, and privileges the myriad nature of experie nce over the post hoc nature of narrativization that tries to boil history down to a single, linear narrative thread. That commitment to the texture and multitudinousness of history drives U.S.A. jection of linear history proposed by

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141 model of subsegmentation a model not only of narration, but of historicism, given Dos e history of the early twentieth century. And it is precisely this result of U.S.A. intervention into network thinking. A networked reading of U.S.A. illuminates not only networks to mediate the dialectical impulses to totalization and fragmentation, but also the politics that U.S.A. locates as intrinsic to the materialist analysis. U.S .A. balance the fragment and totality at both the level of form and content. But Dos equally te lling. From this networked model of historicism U.S.A. derives the depth of rocky entry into the twentieth century. But moreover that networked model inscribes ont o historical analysis the central dialectical tension of American modernism, setting history as a field of play between the polarities of unity and dispersal.

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142 CHAPTER 5 S THE DAY OF THE LOCUS T It is fitting that for a figure so committed to the art of self fashioning, the fiction of Nathanael West has so regularly been subjected to the currents of criticism across the various periods of the last century. After all, this is the Nathanael West who would change his name from Nathan Weinstein in order to evoke a genteel New Englander air and suppress the Jewish identity that caused him anxiety; who would forge a high school transcript for admission to Tufts; who would hijack the transcript of a Tufts c lassmate named Nathan Weinstein for admiss ion to Brown. And given these acts of authorial self fashioning, it seems appropriate that the works themselves have been fashioned by critics to meet the needs of their own periods. When West died in 1940, a mere twenty four hours after F. Scott Fitzge death, the few obituaries that marked his passing reflected his neglect by the critics of the day. His age was routinely misreported, the titles of his works bungled, the name of his wife confused with his sister in were littered with erroneous details, they were also completely overshadowed by the coverage of Beginning with the 1957 edition of his Complete Works West was put to use i n the service of late modernist antagonism toward popular culture. Rita Barnard argues that the heyday of West scholarship from the mid fifties to the mid good measure on a particular interpretation of his work: one that casts his writing as a battle between art and the cheap clichs and disorder of mass culture, a battle from and solves the problem of the vacuous and vicious culture represented

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143 resurgence of interest in West in the 1990s keyed by scholarship by Barnard, Caren Irr, Robert Seguin and Jonathan Veitch as well as by the 1997 Library of America plac es West in proximity to, if not quite in the mainstream of, the tradition of cultural radicalism in his criticisms of the massified consumer society. What has remained constant throughout these fashionings of West is the recognition of his commitment to co nceptualizing the crowd a figure that I argue is a the masses, which in his renderings also takes on a networked constitution. West sustained interest in the masses is not the mark of a Party line proletarian novelist, as he was mostly ambivalent in his political commitments, but it does indicate a career long interest in new forms of s ocial organization that were emerging during the modern according to the critical political milieu of different periods, and within that ongoing discussion I want to cal l attention to the networked nature with which West represents the crowd and the masses. For never in West is either figure a monolithic, uniform fused group. Instead, West represents the crowd, and with an allegorical remove the masses as well, as a net work of diverse interests and actors. any readings that would have him either celebrate or abhor the social potential of crowds. And complicating that ambiguity is his fict masses that often associated the political subjectivity of the masses with the putatively

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144 violent behavioral characteristics of the crowd a trait that was symptomatic of the way many modernists tended to conceptualize th e possibilities of spontaneous public networked body helps readers bypass the typical politicized binary of crowds that they are either a revolutionary force of progress or a revolting force of vulgarity. This is irresolvable in his fiction. In other words, thinking about these crowds as networks t, but its form. Or, to put it still another way, an emphasis on networks enables us to think not about what a crowd is but what it does as a representation of the social. As a networked social body, the crowd stages a ialectic of homogeneity and atomization, providing a concise figure that negotiates the cultural logic of modernism. Beyond being networked social bodies, formation modeled on connectivity, if not quite fully on coll networked crowds and masses hold forth a truly democratic potential though it is a democratization that for West is to be neither glorified nor regarded with horror. And in d as a figuration of potential social development of network thinking that, due to the general diminishment of public space over the twentieth century, marks a form of networked theorization that is largely absent from the contemporary field of network thinking, further marking the unique modes of network aesthetics in modernism as well as the dialectical tensions of the period that conditioned them.

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145 emps, O The Era O Published in May of 1939, The Day of the Locust received modest reviews. lmost Precisely what that crowd scene meant, however, was up for debate. George Milbur n, reviewing for the Saturday Review of Literature noted the vividness of the final scene: Hollywood premiere, a picture of an American Walpurgis Eve that must make anyone who Time substance New Republic Edmund Wilson found resonance in capable of anything. The daydreaming purveyed by Hollywood, the easy romances that always run tr review hints at the allegorical reading of this scene that would become the standard: that the crowd figures the masses in their ugliest, most violent potentials. The scene at the pr emiere, after all, complemented the uniquely modern sense that the crowd was becoming the central unit of social organization. Urbanization was more often talked about in terms of human density than in terms of infrastructure. Americans experienced the e ntertainments emerging at the turn of the century amusement parks, baseball parks, and of course movie palaces as inextricably public,

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146 crowded spaces. And the milieu was conducive to spontaneous aggregations as well. In The Great Crash, 1929 John Kennet h Galbraith, the Keynesian economist and advisor to Kennedy, details the crowds gathering outside the New York Stock Exchange on Black Thursday formed in part because of a failure in network technology : the stock tickers had fallen hours behind because of the volume of trading, creating uncertainty as to just how badly details the event: Outside the Exchange in Broad Street a weird roar could be heard. A crowd gathered. Police Commissioner Grover Whalen became aware that something was happening and dispatched a special police detail to Wall Street to insure the peace. More people came and waited, though app arently no one new for what. A workman appeared atop one of the high buildings to accomplish some repairs, and the multitude assumed he was a would be suicide and waited impatiently for him to jump. Crowds also formed around the branch offices of brokera ge firms throughout the city and, indeed, throughout the country. Word of what was happening, or what was thought to be happening, was passed out by those who were within sight of the board or the Trans Lux. (104 05) that the observers seemed to have no idea what they were gathering for must have made for a great deal of concern on the ground. What were these people gathering to do? Was it information they were after? Or rubbernecking? Or was riot on their minds? I relate the story, however, not to underscore the simmering menace of such crowds, but to emphasize its spontaneity: crowds during the modernist period could come and go without any coordination whatsoever a stark contrast to public gatherings today, an d a tendency that, for many observers, gave the crowd a charge of dreadful unpredictability. crowd scene was the long shadow cast by Gustav Le Bon, the French sociologist and social psychologist

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147 whose seminal text The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind predicted in 1895 that the The Origins of Crowd Psychology (1975), that Le Bon worked in the specifically Frenc h situation of responses both to alleged failings of the French Republic and to democratic ing Freud to the contexts of German sexuality and intellectual history as if he had no broader commonplace Mary Esteve reminds us of passing remarks from Friedrich Nietzsche, who in Beyond Good and Evil James, whose preface to The Principles of Psychology (1890) characterized the turn of crowded century focused not on emergent trends of urbanization or immigration, but instead advanced two foundational fallacies of the crowd, its makeup, and its relation ship to society. First, Le Bon posits the crowd as a completely monolithic, uniform body. His fundamental premise is that in a crowd each individual yields her consciousness to the fused consciousness of the crowd. He writes: Under certain given circumst ances, and only those circumstances an agglomeration of men presents new characteristics very different from those of the individuals composing it. The sentiments and ideas of all the persons in the gathering take one and the same direction, and their con scious personality vanishes. A collective mind is formed, doubtless transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics. (Le Bon 23 24)

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148 demonstrates what today a singular movement toward a shared goal that for Le Bon was often tinged with ideas of heredity akin to the tenets of scientific racism. What is important to observe here is not the results of the collective mind, but that i t acts as a completely homogenous unit with no internal diversification. Second, Le Bon pursues a pernicious conflation of crowds and the masses a conflation that could later be extrapolated to the relationship between the crowd and the emergent mass cultu collective mind almost always demonstrate a barbarism that is projected from the passage Le Bon writes: Crowds are only powerful for destruction. Their rule is always tantamount to a barbarian phase. A civilisation involves fixed rules, discipline, a passing from the instinctive to the rational state, forethought for the future, an elevated degree of culture all of them conditions that crowds, left to When the structure of a civilisation is rotten, it is always the masses that bring about its downfall. (18) The slippage from crowd to mass absurd that the masses, a term Le Bon uses in reference to the working classes and to ethnic minorities, would be equated to the behavioral characteristics of a crowd N s argument hinges on just this association. The terms are disentangled easily enough: a crowd is a locally experienced spontaneous social formation, whereas the masses are an abstractly imagined social body. But the legacy of their conflation in scholar ship and in literature is so pervasive that maintaining the though a

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149 influence. Neither of these fallaci es were the sole markers of crowd thinking when The Day of the Locust arrived in 1939 another moment when attention was turned to thinking the crowd and the masses in the light of the spread of Fascism in Europe. Russ Castronovo, for example, argues again among turn of the century scholars. Castronovo shows that progressive sociologists recognized the democratizing potential of crowds as well as their destructive, irrational capacities, and he points to th e pioneering American sociologist Robert Park, whose 96). Ne crowd theory certainly colo cene from The Day of the Locust part of a common project notably advanced in A Cool Million his 1934 novella defies association with Le rowd takes the shape of the network and imagines social formations that would flatten institutional barriers like class and ethnicity. Before earlier work to study the c ontinuity of his networked representation of the crowd and his treatment of the slippage from crowd to masses. This survey will illustrate the

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150 positions. Cool Crowds: Democr atic Form, Fascist Content demonstrating a sustained interest in new modes of social organization that were just appearing during the modern era. However, t he novel A Cool Million: Th e Dismantling of Samuel Pitkin (1934) bears scrutiny for its strictly politicized crowds. Equally as volatile as the crowds of The Day of the Locust the crowds of A Cool Million offer a note s work, with a social aggregation that is clearly malevolent and unmistakably politicized in its parody of Fascism. A Cool Million indicates a great deal of anxiety over the ease with which the masses may be manipulat ed. And this is a concern that also bears a relationship to the crowd, the traditional figural rendering of make sense of its break from the aesthetics of Miss Lonelyhea rts the first novella West published in 1933 A Cool Million is what Michael Denning pithily refers to as an rism, mimicking not only character and plot sequences, but also providing near perfect matches of sentences and paragraphs. 1 In that respect, it certainly is a tale of the delusion of the masses by 1 Satire Newslette r 3, no. 1 (1965) and A Cool Million as Alter Ball State University Forum 21, no.

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151 the impossible, mythical success narrative. On his quest to make millions, young Lemuel meets setback after setback, each leaving him further from material gain than before: he is ripped off by con men several times; a case of mistaken identity lands him in jail and further depletes his wealth; he is pressed i nto service as a homosexual sex slave, which results in his arrest, a shakedown by a public attorney, a plea deal, and his release to the streets, penniless. And those financial calamities reflect the bodily deformations he endures along the way the remov al of his teeth, the loss of an eye, the amputations of a thumb and a leg, and even a scalping. For every step Lemuel takes toward the American dream of wealth and leisure, he seems to take several more back to poverty and infirmity. But while A Cool Mil lion is a tale of the deception of the masses by the bootstraps mythos, it is also a tale of the American masses becoming duped into Fascism. While he sinks into the underworld of crime and extreme poverty, Lemuel becomes acquainted with a distinctly Fasc ist impulse circulating among the breadlines of the who first sends Lemuel out into the world on the promise of American opportunity maxims. But Lemuel meets him again years later after Whipple has fallen on hard times, as he stands outside a Salvation Army canteen drumming up support for his new Million 172). Whipple espouses a populism that is an unmistakable parody of Fascism, and it is no accident that the bulk of the scenes addressing this

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152 parody center on two crowd gatherings each of which demo nstrates the manipulation of crowd and masses in the march toward Fascism. strictly delimited group of people. Working for a traveling freak show that doubles as a Commu nist propaganda organ, Whipple finds an opportunity to advance the Leather against the propagandizing leader of the traveling show, and is met with a disproportionately vi Lynch him! Although a good three quarters of its members did not know whom it was Million spreads in a grisly comedy up mostly of older men, had somehow gotten the impression that the South had again and prepared to die in its def Million a full blown riot, resulting in the parading of African passage clearly parodies the Southern stereotypes of racism, anti Semitism, and anti Catholicism, and it also demonstrates the easy manipulability of a crowd. And the ease with which the crowd fragments into these sects suggests that these sects were already a part of the crowd that it is not a breakdown of a coherent unit that is at work, but the revelation of the factions that were already inside it. But Whipple would not be deterred by this failed attempt to realize his Fascist vision. The novel concludes with a second crowd scen

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153 the masses of the nation. After Lemuel is made an involuntary martyr for the Leather regime. Whipple presides over a parade commemorating Lemuel as propaganda for the National Revolutionary Party. The streets of New York are overcrowded with youths parading down Fifth Avenue in his honor. They are a hundred thousand strong. On te with jaunty tail, and on every shoulder Million 237). When the parade reaches the reviewing stand, tenets. The crowd in observance of Pitk Million 238). The dissonance, like the dispersal of the crowd of Southern whites, demonstrates heterogeneity within the crowd. But that comes as little solace, as the mass deception of the crowd signals the manipulation of the entire nation toward the embrace of Fascis m. controlled by a mechanism akin to hypnosis. The crowd operates, he writes, in a special sta te, which much resembles the state of fascination in which The conscious personality has entirely vanished; will and discernment are lost. All feeling and thoughts are bent in the direction by the hypnotiser.

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154 Such is also approximately the state of the individual forming part of a psychological crowd. He is no longer conscious of his acts. (Le Bon 31) it is an over Instead, West provides clear evidence that these crowds, even while they are in flammatory speech to the southern whites, the crowd separates into three factions the first heads to the opera house that staged the freak show, the second heads to defend the Confederate flag on the courthouse flagpole, and the third proceeds to the s principal stores and to free their relatives from jail each of which is itself an internally homogeneous crowd. The diversification of that crowd, alongside the very while a spontaneous body can be manipulated as a single organism toward violence, toward Fascism, and so on it still retains a distinctly networked character. That these crowds maintain internal diversification may seem like a commonplace, but it is impo unit. M ore importantly, the networked diversification of these crowds also challenges the assump simpl y Fascist. Emphasizing the networked elements of these crowds instead of simply reading them as monolithic units doing allows us to see how the networked constitution of crowds actually undermines their m anipulability. In the case of the Southerners, the fact crowd demonstrat ion of its own factionalism is at cross

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155 the parade signals that the crowd can never be shoehorned into perfect orthodoxy, leaving room or at least hope while it is easy enough for Whipple to stir up the animosities of these crowds, it is another thing entir ely for him to direct them into concerted action. Their interests are too diverse to be controlled. Perversely, these diverse interests groups which political, ethnic, or religious group shall the Southerners persecute? and how best to celebrate the hero Pitkin? signal a democratic form to these crowds that appear Fascist in content Given their relationship to Whipple, the explicitly politicized crowds in A Cool Million offer counterpoint to those of The Day of the Locust which, notwithstanding their a bsence of politicians or political rallies, are often understood as expressing concerns about Fascism. Crowds were, after all, commonly associated with the rise of Fascism in A Cool Million purportedly advanc es Recognizing the tensions of those politics expre ssion of Fascist sentiment while their form persists as a decentralized, diversified democratic body crowds and on the masses with a reading that foregrounds the democratic possibilities of these networked bodies. This reading of the crowds in A Cool Million allows us to see, even in the most politicized of crowds, the formal renderings of the social that are also at work in The Day of the Locust

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1 56 Movies And Masses I n The Day Of T he Locust U A Cool Million the famous scene in The Day of the Locust has no explicit political motivation, and it carries a deep ambivalence on matters of class. T hese characteristics extend to other crowded scenes of the text. What these figurations of crowds and the masses, is their deployment of the Hollywood novel genre. By the time The Day of the Locust was published, most of the conventions of the genre were well established tropes of the promised land of glitzy opportunities, the fallen woman who fails at acting and turns to prostitution, and so on. As John Parris Springer l The Day of the Locust The Postman Always Rings Twice (1935) You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up Hope of Heaven (1938). For West, the Hollywood novel was a logical focus given his longstanding interests in surrealism and in thematics we would today liken to those of postmodern simulation. His unique intervention into the Hollywood novel genre is to use it as a window onto the entangled figures of the crowd and the masses, and the culture industry thematics that accompany the genre allow him another opportunity to think through the form and cont ent of crowds. representation of crowds should come as no surprise, because movie theaters were one of the primary sites of crowd theorization and especially anxiety over the power of the crowd during the early 1900s. With the advent of the first moving picture projector

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157 in 1896, the nickelodeon theater emerged as a space typified by rowdiness and crowdedness that was inseparable from its working class, immigrant patronage. Accordingly, the nickelodeon was a major locus of intellectual output, not only over the products of popular culture consumed there, but also for the articulations of the crowds drawn there their democratizing potential, their potential for societal corruption, and so on. The nickelodeon was so deeply associated with the crowd, Russ Castronovo shed its dodgy background of immigrant and working explains the milieu that set the demands for the shift from the nickelodeon to the more respectable, middle In comparison to the limited range of people w ho could purchase pricey theater tickets, a 1910 survey of film audiences in New York City concluded that 72 percent of all moviegoers came from working class backgrounds. Despite this breakdown, early movie audiences could not be standardized, as they ar e today, into the singular identity of an absorbed spectator but instead remained something much more uncertain and much less Movies were not simply for or about crowds; this new art form might be productive of them. (142) That the film industry produces crowds was easily recognized in the era of the nickelodeon, and this became one aspect of the narration of the crowd in The Day of the Locust West places the crowds of The Day of the Locust in his own present, well after the decline of the nickelodeon era, though the residual association between film and the immigrant crowd remained. But by this time, with film had become a much more widely consumed commodity. Michael Denning

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158 iod Works Progress family member to attend the movies: once a month on the former, and once a week on consumption (25). So at the publication of The Day of the Locust the movie theater occupied a dual space regarding the crowd and the masses. On the on e hand, it still other hand, the movie theater had become the locus of a truly mass consumer society, severed from its putatively metropolitan locale and its class specifi c makeup to begin to saturate the entire nation. From this dual position, simultaneously linked to the crowd of the nickelodeon era and the masses of the contemporary film industry, The Day of the Locust recognizes the entanglement of these two figures and their mediation by the industries of mass culture. And that dual dynamic begins well before the apocalyptic crowd scene that concludes the novel. The introductory passage, wherein Tod Hackett observes the studio backlot scene of extras marching toward t heir set, pales in comparison to the climactic finale, but it is important to see how it establishes some of the intersections of the crowd, the masses, and the mass media, effectively framing The Day of the Locust between bookends of crowd scenes. Hacket t looks out over his set and costume design materials to see an army passing below his window. It is the usual backlot conceit: to fool the reader that an event is actually happening only to reveal that event was merely

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159 the stuff of a Hollywood stage or backlot. The telling detail however, lies in (West, Locust 21). T indicates the falsehood of the Hollywood representation of military regimentation as if reflecting the very massification of film itself. It also suggests the very audience of such a cultural comm odity, which is simultaneously commodified as a product of the film industry and is reified as a figure of the masses. In other words, the simile likening the army of cast and crew to a mob has the effect of evoking the specter of the raucous crowds. And such a nickelodeon audience is replicated in the crowd that gathers to watch r a screening of Le Predicament de Marie, ou La Bonne Distraite a piece about an oversexed family and their maid that sets up a correspondingly oversexed scene in the theater, building up sexual tension in the film and within the au dience until the film re el breaks down and ruins any hopes of a climactic payoff spectators Even as the projectionist is preparing to start the film, the crowd of moviegoers is boisterous: nd the others joined in. They Locust 44). But the rowdiness is more than a performance or another signal of the affect of the Estee cohort. Rather, it muddles the classed nature of crowds across the text. As Robert Sequin writes in Around Quitting Time

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160 one hint that West intended this as a fairly crucial moment comes when the us once more of The Cheated the ori ginal title of the book, and establishes the fact that we are at some level not to understand these high living Hollywood socialites as distinct from the scrambling lumpens who populate the rest of the novel, that some deeper fictional identity unites them (104) The result is that West effectively extends the qualities of the nickelodeon audience to the uppercrust of Hollywood. It is no coincidence that this ambivalence over the politics of class would involve of titles West tinkered with as he was editing the manuscript for publication reflects a wavering uncertainty of his sociological project to cast the crowds and the masses as heroes of class warfare, or as victims of class antagonism, or as the vulgar byp roducts of reckless culture industries. The version that Random House first accepted was entitled The Cheated but in intervening drafts West also considered The Grass Eaters Cry Wolf and The Wrath to Come as viable contenders for the title. Biographer Jay Martin reads The Grass Eaters Cry Wolf underscores the doltishness and manipulability crowd scene, and The Wrath to Come clearly emphasizes the prophetic apocalypticism of the violence that the crowd scene engenders, as if foretelling outright revolution. In each case, the working titles and even the final title bear a distinctly charged e lement of mass psychosis in intimating the reflects the ambiguities in the politics of the crowds that remained in the text after the title was decided.

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161 The Cheated the o nly working title to be drawn from the text, stands alone in demonstrating the conflation of the crowd and the masses and their relation to the apparatus of mass culture. It is, as Seguin notes, shouted by a moviegoer at Ms. on of the thwarted cinematic sexual climax. And in the taut their slack minds and b odies. They have been cheated and betrayed. They have Locust 193). The preceding lines acknowledge ked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. This daily diet made sophisticate Locust 192). The chain of signification is typical of crowd representation, with the crowd here figuring the masses both of which, in this case, are mediated by hazardous properties of the mass media. 2 Tod earlier describes these people Locust 23). The is traditionally denied an allegorical reading, but the riotous mediated by the linkages of the mass culture industries. 2 West had experimented with the language of mass media betrayal in Miss Lonelyhearts wherein the p rotagonist, himself an advice columnist for a major newspaper, sees a crowd forming along a street in the Bronx and thinks to himself that dreams

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162 gather for a movie premier is progressively de But again West muddies the class makeup of the crowd, perhaps reflecting his general ambivalence on the classed nature of these social formations. Seguin co strictly a working class or lower servations on writes, All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at Locust 192) Sequin, studying the makeu his diversifies considerably our sense not coincidentally the class most often associa ted with German Fascism in one moment and describing it as composed of a range of white and blue collar workers the next. By eschewing traditional class striations with this nebulous, flattened aggregation, West again deploys a social body that is democ ratic in form. T hat muddiness of the classed element of the crowd is perhaps further illuminated by a contrast of the language West considered for earlier draft s of the apocalyptic finale. penultimate version of The Day of the Locust class] Angelenos would be first, but their brothers all over the country would follow. Only the ). West ultimately withdrew the direct language of class antagonism, but such antagonism still underlies

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163 the distinctly classed nature of the crowd, as the narrator describes the constituency of e who looked tough, nor could he see any working men. The crowd was made up of the lower middle class, Locust 191). Diminished in its revolutionary tone, the more ambiguous classing of this crowd that rem ains in the published version demonstrates some of the slippage from crowd to masses that typifies turn of the earlier work. But it is important to recognize that West does not stage the masses as havi ng an inherent inclination toward violence, as Le Bon argued. Instead, the crowd violence. The bias against the crowd is evident at the earliest moment Tod sees it. The narrator describes his observation of the policemen trying to keep the roads open for had to arrest someone, they joked good naturedly with the culprit, making lig ht of it until Locust of their heroes and heroines, the crowd would turn demoniac. Som e little gesture, either too pleasing or too offensive, would start it moving and then nothing but machine guns would stop it. Individually the purpose of its members might simply be to get a Locus t 190). W hile intense anxiety surrounds the formation of the crowd, the crowd itself is placid. It causes the police some logistical problems, periodically bulging out into the streets, and it is loud ells, pierced occasionally by a

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164 Locust 190). Never, however, does the crowd demonstrate a potential for anything more than unruliness. The anxiety demonstrated by the police, Tod, and a reporter covering the premier is wholly out of step w mundane nature, and they only receive post hoc justification after the crowd is set into crowd into motion is telling: while the crowd do es not act collectively to redress numerous sexual assaults, it is only induced to violence by an act of violence. The crowd is rendered as a mirror or as a vessel, only ref lecting the qualities cast onto it or into it, and the result is a refusal to present the crowd as inherently malevolent. Of course the most viscerally striking aspect of this crowd is its penchant for violence so much so, I think, that it threatens to ove rshadow some of the democratic politics it carries in its formal composition. For even as the crowd at the movie premier turns toward violent expressions of frustrated desires, its formal organization remains as a network of diverse interests. In advance that the narrator describes as having, if not exactly agency, then a distinct sense of be hustled and shoved out of habit and because it lacked an objective. It tolerated the police, just as a bull elephant does when he allows Locust 191). Later, caught in the melee of the crowd, Tod expe landmark, he tried to work toward it by slipping sideways against the tide, pushing hard

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165 when carried away from it and ri (West, Locust 196 97). The crowd, Tod begins to realize, resembles the angry the painting that Tod has been planning th roughout the text. On the surface of both of these passages, the crowd appears to be monolithic in its apocalyptic drive, bearing a sharing collective. ication, the networked properties that hold it together. Inside the lurching mass of people, Tod begins to recognize different divisions within the crowd. One segment spasms with the jostling of bodies, with men grabbing after the torn dress of a young g irl. Another segment is so the antics of their more animated counterparts and discuss how the riot was initiated in the first place (West, Locust 198). And even below th segmentation, Tod encounters the individuals of the crowd in some profile, bringing into relief the nodal constitution of the crowd. Homer Simpson, the dull Midwesterner who comes to California to bask in the sun, weaves through th e crowd, and Tod sees Loomis, the event that sets the crowd into tumult (West, Locust 193). In the violent segment of the crowd, Tod can see the anonymous young girl whom he c hivalrously body and torn dress. In the docile segment of the crowd, he is able to eavesdrop on the Locust 199). These

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166 segmentations of the crowd into separate modes of being in the crowd and into individuals monoli thic faade with an interior structure akin to a constellation. unruly crowds simply in terms of their unruliness privileges traditional essentialisms about crowds and the lower emphasize the networked form of these bodies highlights a completely different politics of the crowd one that is democratic in its flattening of social strata and its diversity of interests In the case of the crowds in A Cool Million that network form undercuts the The Day of the Locust that networked form offers a utopian angle to crowd formations, positioning them not as instruments of violence, but as organizations defying a central control and especially decoupling crowds and masses from their stereotypical association with working and lower middle classes. By politicize them, as formalist studies so often tend to do. Instead, a study of the networked form of these crowds re politicizes them by demonstrating the democratic nature of the ir organization precisely against the typical associations between crowds and violence that tend to treat the working and lower middle classes with distrust or worse. None of this, however, resolves the binaries that tend to dominate the discussion of We whether they are revolutionary or revolting, or whether they are the domain of the working and lower classes or that of the entire class hierarchy. Instead,

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167 to see how West envis ions a social organization founded on principles of connectivity not to be confused with the solidarity of collectivity. To consider these crowds as networked figurations means that we should also pay attention to the nature of their mediating links. In The Day of the Locust those mediating links, the ligatures of the networks that constitute his crowds and masses, are the connective forces of mass culture industries. These are the links that bind the crowd at Ms. organization of the network is the means by which West addresses the substance of th e network the mass media that comprise it. And it is this relationship between the industries of mass culture and the democratizing potential of networked crowds that Networking Democracy one, because it speaks to a social space that may have expired with the passing of the period of modernism was uniquely situated to express the experience of mass culture and the public, both of which have precipitously declined since (and because of) the Cold War years. She surveys the 1934 sinking of the Morro Castle off the coast of Asb ury Park, New Jersey, which brought about a gathering of as many as a quarter million people that was facilitated by sensationalizing media coverage, beachside vendors supplying souvenirs of the event, and reduced railway fares meant to spark New Jersey to urism

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168 reminiscent of the crowds gathering spontaneously before the Stock Exchange on Black Thursday, though of a completely different scale a drawn from the anecdote of the Morro Castle crowd are twofold. First, it demonstrates s the beachside scene as confirming the insidious political forces of charismatic Morro Castle demonstrates the remove we feel today, after the late modernist turn of the Cold War era, from the possibilities of that kind of spontaneous formation in the first place given the atomizing forces of suburbanization, home entertainment technologies, and the increasing privatization of public spaces. F undamentally, Hegeman writes, the scene at the sinking of the Morro Castl e and not because the press covered it in Though it is true that spontaneous publ ic gatherings still appear at the sites of sensational murders Morro Castle provoked, precisely because we are now less familiar with the forms and norms of public entert (Hegeman 300).

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169 ting, among other causes, the turn away from public popular entertainments like amusement parks, dance halls, and the raucous movie theaters of the nickelodeon era (300). Nicolaus Mills offers a potential explanation in declining rates of unemployment, po inting to the start of World War II class crowd such a prominent feature of American life in the 1930s disappeared. In the eighteen months between June, 1940, and December, 1941, the number of unemployed people dropped from 8.5 aggregation marks a momentous, if generally under appreciated, development in twentieth century American history. My primary goal in invoking arrangement but to highlight the very specific historical context in which West invests his project in the representation of the cr owd and mass media description of modernist social space as itself reflective of the cultural logic of modernism, as it situates modernist space as itself mediating the dialectical tension of centralization and dispersal. For if West is relying on a networked figure of the crowd, as has been the contention of this paper, and if conditions fostering the public nature of crowds give us a unique position to explore a mode of network theorization that responds to an inextricably modernist situation, and in fact underscores the uniqueness of the modernist situation. In other words, the historical delimitations of the so called rajectory of network theorization by isolating this

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170 particular form of network representation to the modern period, whereas other forms, like the characterological mode of six degrees narration, persist into the present. Or, to put it still another way, i t is as if we are looking at an ideational fossil record and seeing an early variant of network thinking that simply did not adapt to survive into contemporary network discourses. 3 Mass media has certainly penetrated American social organization to an eve n greater degree today, so why is its manifestation during the modern period so often accompanied by crowds? At the heart of this historically distinct figuration of the network is an equally unique vision of democracy. And that should come as no surpris e, because democracy was one of the major stakes conflation of crowd behavior and the unruliness of the masses stems from his worry destruction of those religious, political, and social beliefs in which all the elements of our civilization are even if they sometimes allowed that formulation the stain of a demonized irrationality (94). Even today democracy is the central terrain of contemporary scholarship on the modern The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in Am erican Literature (2003), for example, advances the thesis that democratic populace without, however, harboring any specific political contention, they, as discursive figures, made visible the idea of a 3 This is not to discount the work of many contemporary theorists for example, Michael Hardt and Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009), both of which articulate a need for an unrealized, truly lateral society of public or common access in response to the striations of glo balization. But these remain calls for a certain kind of social organization, not reflections of an actually lived public experience like the one Hegeman positions as passing with the moderns.

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171 categorically separate sphere, wherein this politically defined populace could be seen as engaged in distinctly non political, but nevertheless deeply attractive and arguably humanly essential, activity. (3) Be autiful Democracy (2007) studies how discourses of the over the aesthetics of mass culture and those of upper class refinement (5, 17). From the declined era of the inextricably linked to the hopes and anxieties of democracy. What does it mean to have a networked figuration of democracy in this period that saw the rise and fall of the crowd? In the modern least in part, an equality of condition. That kind of social organization is suggested in as figure of a truly flattened social org The Day of the Locust is rigidly classed, it is true, but as an independent figure the crowd gestures toward a society where each individual bears equal relation to the networked whole a formulation borne out in the de classed c rowds of A Cool Million The networked dynamics of the crowd, then, evoke a democratic sentiment that preserves an equality This networked vision of democracy, part and parcel of the publ ic culture that Hegeman identifies as an intrinsically modern phenomenon, perhaps repositions the crowd as a figure not of collectivity but of connec tivity. And that particular brand of connectivity was facilitated by the mass media outlets of the day that brought so many into a common culture or at least gave the appearance of such a common culture in contrast to the social stratifications of past er as. This re articulation

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172 of the crowd would emphasize its flattened, networked internal dynamics over the pernicious stereotypes long associated with so the form of the crowd offers a utopian vision of social organi zation, though, as we have seen, the representation of its content tends to craft a particularly malicious rendering of the working classes. Such a shift in focus from the collective to the connective allows us to imagine the possibilities of a truly flatt ened, public social organization an organization well absent from American experience since the scene of the moderns. The passage of the century has only brought more connective ligatures of mass media, but a deepening engagement with crowds has not accom panied them. The crowd is, I hasten to add, a focus almost solely on six degrees of separation structures in film. One might argue that is the nature of these mass media that have changed, favoring a more atomizing mode of reception home entertainment systems, cellular reception of phone calls, news, and video, and so on that in turn determines a more atomized mode of social organization. But such an explanation would ove rlook the similar functions of atomizing technologies of the modern period such as the phonograph parlors of the 1890s and early 1900s that were an important element of creating habits of entertainment consumption. 4 What has changed seems more likely to b e ideologies of the public in a shift toward privatization a force motivating the collapse of civic and social institutions that Robert Putnam chronicles in his 2000 book Bowling Alone of crowds registers an ambivalence about the sp ontaneous manifestations of such 4 Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements (1993): 120 34.

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173 public social formations, but even that ambivalence holds a utopian charge in the potential for a truly democratized social organization. That ambivalence seems completely disregarded today by the near complete abandonment of crowd thinking and representation that is needed to reconsider the crowd as a model of networked organization.

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174 CHAPTER 6 CODA Nathanael investment in the crowd is but one manifestation of the myriad forms of network narration that occupied American modernism as a way of negotiating Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the networked forms of Cane and John Dos U.S.A. trilogy. To illustrate the breadth of the network narrative during this period the constellar element of the genre that I have tried to demonstrate with this collage like study of disparate texts I want to c onclude with a brief study in contrast. Because it exemplifies the kind of generic conventions David Bordwell ascribes to the network narrative, and indeed because it is one of the primary texts scholars point to C rash (2005) provides a useful counterpoint to the modes of network narration I have been discussing in American modernism. Crash is symptomatic of a spate of films arriving in the mid 2000s Alejandro Babel Syriana both rele ased in 2006, for example that are built upon the same six degrees of separation formula as 6 the television drama I discussed in the introduction. Together, these films and others released in the same narrow window called attention to the genre that Bo rdwell and others were touting as a relatively new development. The winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, Crash outlines in Poetics of Cinema ( 2008), as it stages chanc e as the motivator of the and locates i ts fundamental tension between accident and destiny. By isolating its

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175 connective devices solely to the characterological mode o f interpersonal networks, Crash provides a case study in some of the ideological assumptions that inform contemporary understandings of the network narrative genre, as well as the discourses of networks across the humanities. The film revolves around eight character threads, many of which manifest in pairs of figures: Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), police partners and lovers; Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Jean Cabot (Sandra Bullock), a wealthy, white, politically prominent c ouple carjacked early in the film; carjackers brother of the upstanding Det. Graham Waters; Farhad (Shaun Toub), the owner of a convenience store, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh); Cameron (Terrence Howard) and Christine Thayer (Thandie Newton), an upperclass black couple struggling after she is molested by a racist LAPD officer; officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon), the racist cop whose father is suffering from the side effects of a urinary tract infection, and officer Tom Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), an idealist cop disgusted by the molestation who tries to vindicate himself when encountering Cameron Thayer the next day; Daniel (Michael Pea), a Hispanic locksmith and father of a y oung, lower class family. Such a survey may seem an excessive detour, but of course that very kaleidoscopic profusion of characters is precisely For the film offers very little in the way of plot beyond the marginal stories of each charac ter thread, stories that are insignificant beyond the coincidences that drive the characters into intersection. Typical of contemporary understandings of network narratives, the film focuses on the atomized

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176 characters themselves and the chance intersectio ns that draw them into loose connections Those chance connections often take place in the violence of a car crash. This is More often, the drawing of relational l ines simply occurs through chance encounters For example, the idealist officer Tom Hansen picks up a hitchhiker whom the audience recognizes as Peter Waters not realizing that that afternoon he had been pursuing Waters in the near carjacking of Cameron T hayer. During the car ride, Hansen takes an argument escalates to a tragic misunderstanding that results in Hansen shooting his passenger. And it gets worse for Hansen : the audience knows that the victim of his bullet was the wayward brother of Detective Graham Waters, a fast rising lawman who This contingent d entanglements is perhaps the defining feature of the network narrative, as Bordwell describes it. In terms of its characterological networks and its contingent connections, Crash is more or less interchangeable with its peers, distinctive only in its ove rtly multicultural organization. It is fair to note, however, that there are other films from this period that conform to the characterological mode of network narration wh ile also nodding toward other means of thinking networks. Syriana for example, sketches the connective lines between commodities, markets, and people through the global oil trade, buttressing its characterological structure with treatment of the material mediators that facilitate the

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177 the contemporary manifestation of network narratives in film as wholly invested in a characterological brand of networks. The isolat ion of this mode of network narration in contemporary films confines the Crash the network is ultimately less a tool for systemic analysis of the discursive and material conc erns of race in America than it is a means for studying the subjective experience of race through a variety of perspectives an emphasis on, say, poverty. This winnowing of the field both in terms of aes thetics in form and content, and in terms of the critiques staged by network narratives in contemporary narrative production draws a sharp contrast with the broad field of the genre in American modernism. Beyond the sheer aesthetic diversity of networking narrative is their expansive use of the network as a conceptual tool. For these writers, the network provided a versatile conceptual tool for thinking the dynamic changes of their milieu and not only the interconnections of people, but also the networked constitution of systems like race, class, history, and democracy, as my chapters have tried to demonstrate. Moreover, such films demonstrate a residual trace of modernism i n our contemporary discourses of networks. In a way, the characterological networks of films like Crash function somewhat similarly to the networks we have seen in the public spaces of the hotel or in crowd figuration. A characterological network relies on person to

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178 crowds erode institutional boundaries such as class and ethnicity. Whether it is in the U.S.A. trilogy or in postmodern manifestation s of the network narrative like Crash characterological networks hold out a utopian wish for a social organization that is unmediated by institutional determinants. In fact, this rendering of networked representation might well represent a nostalgia for precisely the public culture of the modern period that organized public spaces and crowds as key articulations of the cultural logic of modernism. If that is the case, then the nostalgia of characterologically networked films like Crash signals a rather s elective memory for social organizations, but it forgets that those networked figuratio ns also provided the moderns with conceptual tools to think democratic and even collective modes of the social perhaps as telling a marker of historical amnesia as it is a shortcoming in our social imagination today. Nascent and unarticulated though they o ften were, networked representation mark a breadth of engagement with the possibilities for networks that contemporary network narratives seem uninterested in exploring. Part of this winnowing down may reflect the residual na ture of networks in contemporary narrative and theoretical production, which I earlier described as a trace of the cultural dispersal. If that claim holds, it could well be that the onset of the digital revolution and other developments toward the close of the twentieth century resulted in a closing of the field of network possibilities a post hoc redefinition of the boundaries of networked

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179 representation as well as To consider the network as a central figure of American modernism not only informs an intellectual history network discourses with their origins in the early twentieth century, but also brin with the way that modernists were beginning to think their own milieu.

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180 LIST OF REFERENCES Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers New York: W.W. N orton, 2006. Print. Barnard, Rita. The Great Depression and the Culture of Abundance: Kenneth Fearing, Nathanael West, and Mass Culture in the 1930s New York: Cambridge UP, 1995. Print. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes Illus. Ralph Barton. New York: Penguin, 1998. vii xxiv. Print. Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project 1982. Trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Ed. Rolf Ti edemann. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 2004. Print. --Illuminations Trans. Harry Zohn. Ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1969. 253 64. Print. Blake, Casey Nelson. Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford Chapel Hill, NC: U North Carolina P, 1990. Print. Poetics of Cinema New York: R outledge, 2008. 189 250. Print. Blass, Thomas. The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram New York: Basic Books, 2004. Print. War and the Intellectuals: Collecte d Essays, 1915 19 Indianapolis: Hackett, 1999. 107 23. Print. Carey, Gary. Anita Loos: A Biography New York: Knopf, 1988. Print. Castronovo, Russ. Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era Chicago: U Chicago P, 2007. P rint. Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society 1996. 2 nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000. Print. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the Politics Middlebrow Moderns: Popular American Writers of the 1920s Ed. Lisa Botshon and Meredith Goldsmith. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2003. 135 64. Print.

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181 Ciccorrico, David. Reading Network Fiction Tuscaloosa, AL: U Alabama P, 2007. Print. Rev. of U.S.A. by John Dos Passos. The New Republic 9 September (vol. lxxxviii): 134. Microfilm: New Republic v. 84 90 (Aug 14, 1935 May 5, 1937). Reel 13. --The Big Money by John Dos Passos. The New Republi c 12 August 1936 (vol. lxxxviii): 23 24. Rpt. in John Dos Passos: The Critical Heritage Ed. Barry Maine. New York: Routledge, 1997: 135 39. Print. Crash Dir. Paul Haggis. Perf. Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Tony Danza. 2005. Lio ns Gate, 2005. DVD. The Crowd. Dir. King Vidor. Perf. Eleanor Boardman, James Murray. 1928. VHS. Warner Home Video, 1998. VHS. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1980. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1987. Print. Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century 1997. New York: Verso, 1998. Print. irms in the United States, 1920 Men and Organizations: The American Economy in the Twentieth Century Ed. Edwin J. Perkins. New York: G.P. 50. Print. Dos Passos, John. The 42 nd Parallel 1930. New York: Ma riner Books, 2000. Print. --. 1919 1932. New York: Mariner Books, 2000. Print. --. The Big Money 1936. New York: Mariner Books, 2000. Print. T he Composite Novel: The Short Story Cycle in Transition New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995. 1 19. Print. Esteve, Mary. The Aesthetics and Politics of the Crowd in American Literature New York: Cambridge UP, 2003. Print. Fjellman, Stephen M. V inyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America San Francisco, Westview, 1992. Print.

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182 Ford, Karen Jackson. Split Gut Song: Jean Toomer and the Poetics of Modernity Tuscaloosa, AL: U Alabama P, 2005. Print. Frank, Waldo. City Block New York: Dar ien Conn, 1922. Print. --. Our America New York: Boni and Liverwright, 1919. Print. Frederic, Harold. The Damnation of Theron Ware 1896. New York: Penguin, 1986. Print. Galbraith, John Kenneth. The Great Crash, 1929 1954. Boston: Hough ton Mifflin, 1972. Print. Goldberg, David J. Discontented America: The United States in the 1920s Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999. Print. Grand Hotel Dir. Edmund Goulding. Perf. Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford. 1932. Warner Br others, 2008. DVD. Grand American Hotels New York: Vendome, 1989. 11 37. Print. Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire 2004. New York: Penguin, 20 05. Print. American Literary History 12.1 2 (2000): 298 317. Project Muse Web. 27 May 2009. --. Patterns for America: Modernism and the Concept of Culture Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. Print. --Blondes American Literary History 7.3 (Autumn 1995): 525 54. Project Muse Web. 10 Feb 2010. New Masses Dec. 1931: 16 17. Print. Representative Short Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century: Studies in a Literary Genre The Hague: Mouton, 1971. 13 25. Print. U.S.A The Suburb of Dissent: Cultural Politics in the United States and Canada during the 1930s Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1998. 45 67. Print. James, Henry. The American Scene

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183 Jameson, Frederic. Postm odernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism 1991. Durham: Duke UP, 2003. Print. 1919 by John Dos Passos. Saturday Review 19 March 1932 (vol. viii): 600. Rpt. in John Dos Passos: The Criti cal Heritage Ed. Barry Maine. New York: Routledge, 1997: 106 09. Print. --. The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861 1901 New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1934. Print. Modernism/modernity 11.2 (2004): 299 331. Web. 6 October 2008. Kaplan, Justin. When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age New York: Viking, 2006. Print. ican Short Story Sequence Definitions Modern American Short Story Sequences: Composite Fictions and Fictive Communities Ed. J. Gerald Kennedy. New York: Cambridge UP, 1995. vii xv. Print. Kennedy, P.C. Rev. of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos, Appassionata by Fannie Hurst, Rock and Sand by Naomi Jacob, The Apple of the Eye by Jane England, The Quiet Lady by Anges Mure Mackenzie, The Grand Young Man by Esme Wingfield Stratford, and Chains by Henri Barbusse. New Statesman 22 May 1926. New Statesman 27 (April Oct. 1926): 142 43. Print. Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan 1978. New York: Monacelli, 1994. Print. Larson, Edward L. Summer for the Gods The Scopes Trial and Americ Debate over Science and Religion 1997. Basic: New York, 2006. Print. Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor Network Theory New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print. Le Bon, Gustave. The Crowd: A Study of th e Popular Mind 1895. New York: Viking Press, 1960. Print. Littell, Robert. Rev. of Cane The New Republic 26 December 1923 (vol. xxxvii): 126. Rpt. in The Merrill Studies in Cane Ed. Frank Durham. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1971. 32 33. Pri nt. Fate Keeps on Happening: Adventures of Lorelei Lee and Other Writings Ed. Ray Pierre Corsini. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1984. 58 61. Print.

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184 --Fate Keeps o n Happening: Adventures of Lorelei Lee and Other Writings Ed. Ray Pierre Corsini. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1984. 53 61. Print. --. But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes 1928. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professiona l Lady and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes Illus. Ralph Barton. New York: Penguin, 1998. 125 243. Print. --Fate Keeps on Happening: Adventures of Lorelei Lee and Other Writings Ed. Ray Pierre Corsini. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1984. 95 99. Print. --. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady 1925. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes Illus. Ralph Barton. New York: Penguin, 1998. 1 123. Print. Ludington, Townsend. John Dos Passos: A Twentieth Century Odyssey New York: E.P. Dutton, 1980. Print. Char The Short Story Cycle: A Genre Companion and Reference Guide New York: Greenwood Press, 1989. 1 22. Print. Martin, Jay. Nathanael West: The Art of His Life New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1970. Print. McGurl, Mark. The Novel Art: Elevations of American Fiction after Henry James Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001. Print. Mencken, H.L. Rev. of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos. The American Mercury 7.25 (Jan. 1926): 127. Print. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West Saturday Review of Literature 20 May 1939 (vol. xx): 14 15. Rpt. in Critical Essays on Nathanael West Ed. Ben Siegel. New York: G.K. Hall, 1994. 67 68. Print. Mills, Nicolaus. The Crowd in American Literature Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State UP, 1986. Print. Mizruchi, Mark. The American Corporate Network, 1904 1974 Sage Library of Social Research 138. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1982. Print.

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185 Montgomery Massi Grand Hotel: The Golden Age of Palace Hotels; an Architectural and Social History. New York: Vendome, 1984. 147 53. Print. Munson, Gorham. Waldo Frank: A Study New York: Boni & Liveright, 1923. Print. The Contemporary American Short Story Cycle: The Ethnic Resonance of Genre Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2001. 1 17. Print. Nasaw, David. Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements New York: Basic Boo ks, 1993. Cane : Self as Montage and the Drive toward American Literature 72.2 (June 2000): 275 90. Web. 10 December 2008. Collage Ed. Jeanine Parisier Plottel. New York: New York Literary Forum, 1983. 5 47. Print. Montage and Modern Life, 1919 1942 Ed. Matthew Teitelbaum. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. 20 35. Print. Rev. of Cane Dial January 1924 (vol. lxxvi): 92. American Periodicals Series Web. 11 December 2008. Rev. of The Day of the Locust Time 19 June 1939 (vol. xx): 84. Rpt. in Critical Essays on Nathanael West Ed. Ben Siegel. New York: G.K. Hall, 1994. 69. Print. Rev. of G entlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos. Boston Evening Transcript 25 Nov. 1925: 8. Print. Rosenfeld, Paul. Men Seen: Twenty Four Modern Authors New York: The Dial Press, 1925. Print. Roth, Henry. Call It Sleep 1934. New York: Picador, 1 991. Print. Rudel, Anthony. Hello, Everybody!: The Dawn of American Radio New York: Harcourt, 2008. Print. Sandoval Strausz, A.K. Hotel: An American History New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print. Scruggs, Charles, and Lee VanDemarr. Jean Toomer and the Terrors of American History Philadelphia: U Pennsylvania P, 1998. Print.

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186 Seguin, Robert. Around Quitting Time: Work and Middle Class Fantasy in American Fiction Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2001. Print. Sinclair, Upton. Rev. of The 42 nd Para llel by John Dos Passos. New Masses April 1930 (vol. v): 18 19. Rpt. in John Dos Passos: The Critical Heritage Ed. Barry Maine. New York: Routledge, 1997: 87 91. Print. Springer, John Parris. Hollywood Fictions: The Dream Factory in America n Popular Literature Norman, OK: U Oklahoma P, 2000. Print. Thomas, Jean Collage Ed. Jeanine Parisier Plottel. New York: New York Literary Forum, 1983. 79 102. Print. Thompson, Frank. Lost Films: Importan t Movies That Disappeared New York: Citadel Press, 1996. Print. Shifting Gears: Technology, Literature, Culture in Modernist America Chapel Hill, NC: U North Carolina P, 1987. 194 216. P rint. Toomer, Jean. Cane 1923. Ed. Darwin T. Turner. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988. Print. --A Jean Toomer Reader: Selected Unpublished Writings Ed. Frederik L. Rusch. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. 101 04. Print. --A Jean Toomer Reader: Selected Unpublished Writings Ed. Frederik L. Rusch. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. 17 18. Print. rnism: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Arizona Quarterly 66.1 (Spring 2010): 115 43. Print. West, Nathanael. A Cool Million: The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin. 1934. Nathanael West: Novels and Other Writings Ed. Sac van Bercovitch. New York: Library of America, 1997. 127 238. Print. --. The Day of the Locust 1939. New York: Signet Classics, 1983. Print. --. Miss Lonelyhearts 1933. Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust New York: New Direction s, 1962. 1 58. Print.

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187 Whalan, Mark. Race, Manhood, and Modernism in America: The Short Story Cycles of Sherwood Anderson and Jean Toomer Knoxville, TN: U Tennessee P, 2007. Print. Unanimisme and the Poetics Literature and Technology Research in Technology Studies, vol. 5. Ed. Mark L. Greenberg and Lance Schachterle. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh UP, 1992. 177 205. Print. Williamson, Jefferson. The American Hotel: An Anecdotal History New York: Knopf, 1930. Print. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West New Republic 26 July 1939 (vol. 99): 338 39. Rpt. in Critical Essays on Nathanael West Ed. Ben Siegel. New York: G.K. Ha ll, 1994. 72 74. Print.

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188 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Wesley Beal received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hendrix College in 2004 before coming to the University of Florida for grad uate study. He received a Master of Arts degree in 2006, with a the sis on the conspiracy genre. During his doctoral study, he held a Grinter Fellowship and a Masse y Dissertation Fellowship. His work in the classroom yielded two teaching awards: a University Writing Program teaching award and the prestigious VanderWerf Award, which is granted to the single highest rated teacher in the Graduate School each year As a graduate student at the University of Florida, he published on the submerged postcolonialism of Blade Runner in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies and publ ished a version of his m Genre U.S.A. trilogy is forthcoming from Digital Humanities Quarterly as part of a special issue he is co editing. After graduation, he begins a visiting assistant professorship at Lyon College. He and his wife Courtney are excited to know that their first child will be born an Arkansan.