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Corridor

Media Architectures in American Fiction

2013
Author:

Kate Marshall

Corridor

How neglected architectural spaces act as media in modern American novels

Corridor offers a series of conceptually provocative readings that illuminate a hidden and surprising relationship between architectural space and modern American fiction. By paying close attention to fictional descriptions of some of modernity’s least remarkable structures, Kate Marshall discovers a rich network of connections between corridors and novels, one that also sheds new light on the nature of modern media.

Corridor is a remarkably provocative account of the fictions and psychologies that inhabit the architectural spaces of modern life. By paying close attention to the plumbing, duct work, air shafts, and other forms of infrastructure that invisibly shape our built environments, Marshall provides a brilliant blueprint for reflecting on just how self-knowingly literary works can materialize the worlds that make them.

Mark Goble, University of California, Berkeley

Corridor offers a series of conceptually provocative readings that illuminate a hidden and surprising relationship between architectural space and modern American fiction. By paying close attention to fictional descriptions of some of modernity’s least remarkable structures, such as plumbing, ductwork, and airshafts, Kate Marshall discovers a rich network of connections between corridors and novels, one that also sheds new light on the nature of modern media.

The corridor is the dominant organizational structure in modern architecture, yet its various functions are taken for granted, and it tends to disappear from view. But, as Marshall shows, even the most banal structures become strangely visible in the noisy communication systems of American fiction. By examining the link between modernist novels and corridors, Marshall demonstrates the ways architectural elements act as media. In a fresh look at the late naturalist fiction of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, she leads the reader through the fetus-clogged sewers of Manhattan Transfer to the corpse-choked furnaces of Native Son and reveals how these invisible spaces have a fascinating history in organizing the structure of modern persons.

Portraying media as not only objects but processes, Marshall develops a new idiom for Americanist literary criticism, one that explains how media studies can inform our understanding of modernist literature.

Awards

Media Ecology Association’s Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture

Corridor

Kate Marshall is Thomas J. and Robert T. Rolfs Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.

Corridor

Corridor is a remarkably provocative account of the fictions and psychologies that inhabit the architectural spaces of modern life. By paying close attention to the plumbing, duct work, air shafts, and other forms of infrastructure that invisibly shape our built environments, Marshall provides a brilliant blueprint for reflecting on just how self-knowingly literary works can materialize the worlds that make them.

Mark Goble, University of California, Berkeley

The issue in Corridor is not just about how corridors (and ventilation shafts, sewage systems, halls, wires, and pipes) figure into the American novel, but rather about an unsettling and multilayered problem of communication in the modern world. The movement of dust, sound, people, and even power all point to the paradox of our mediated condition, and as we follow Kate Marshall’s analysis, we come to the philosophical core of the book, which revolves around nothing less than the crisis of the soul. Marshall’s aim is not to produce some sort of negative in this, but rather to teach us as readers how to get deeper into the labyrinthine series of motions that in essence make us modern.

Mark Jarzombek, MIT

Corridor offers a series of conceptually provocative readings that illuminate a hidden and surprising relationship between architectural space and modern American fiction.

HTMLGIANT

Like the fictional works he discusses, Marshall’s account of the corridor delights in the mundane, finding in spaces seldom examined a critical feature of modern experience.

Configurations

Corridor

Contents

Preface: “All That I Need Is a Hallway”
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Corridoricity

1. Becoming Media in An American Tragedy
2. Infrastructural Modernity
3. The Flu and the Media, or Contagion 1918
4. Corridors of Power
Epilogue: Open Plan

Notes
Bibliography
Index