Signal or Noise? Information Theory and the Novel

Gunders, John (2006) Signal or Noise? Information Theory and the Novel. Double Dialogues, 3: 1-11.

Author Gunders, John
Title Signal or Noise? Information Theory and the Novel
Journal name Double Dialogues
ISSN 1447-9591
Publication date 2006-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
Issue 3
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Place of publication Melbourne, Australia
Publisher School of Communication & Creative Arts, Deakin University
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subject C1
420218 Literary Theory
751001 Languages and literature
Abstract In the context of a hostile funding environment, universities are increasingly asked to justify their output in narrowly defined economic terms, and this can be difficult in Humanities or Arts faculties where productivity is rarely reducible to a simple financial indicator. This can lead to a number of immediate consequences that I have no need to rehearse here, but can also result in some interesting tensions within the academic community itself. First is that which has become known as the ‘Science Wars’: the increasingly acrimonious exchanges between scientists and scientific academics and cultural critics or theorists about who has the right to describe the world. Much has already been said—and much remains to be said—about this issue, but it is not my intention to discuss it here. Rather, I will look at a second area of contestation: the incorporation of scientific theory into literary or cultural criticism. Much of this work comes from a genuine commitment to interdisciplinarity, and an appreciation of insights that a fresh perspective can bring to a familiar object. However, some can be seen as cynical attempts to lend literary studies the sort of empirical legitimacy of the sciences. In particular, I want to look at a number of critics who have applied information theory to the literary work. In this paper, I will examine several instances of this sort of criticism, and then, through an analysis of a novel by American author Richard Powers, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, show how this sort of criticism merely reduces the meaningful analysis of a complex literary text.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 20:37:06 EST