Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s “Breeze Avenue Working Paper”
This chapter proposes that the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen the emergence of a new transmedia form: the megatext. Megatexts are unreadably large yet concrete aesthetic and rhetorical objects, produced and conceived as singular works, and depend upon digital technology and collaborative authorship for their production. Using the working paper for Richard Grossman’s forthcoming three million page “novel” Breeze Avenue as a case study, this chapter offers a theory of speculative criticism for approaching these massive cultural artifacts. Drawing upon Timothy Morton’s concept of the hyperobject and suggesting that megatexts have roots in literary postmodernism, Fest argues that megatexts respond to the conditions of the Anthropocene and open up new spaces for imaginative reading, creation, and understanding in contemporaneity.
I would like to thank Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg for their efforts to bring this volume into print and for their editorial guidance, along with the anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments and suggestions. I owe a debt of gratitude to Racheal Fest and Dan Malinowski for their insightful feedback on an earlier draft of this essay. I would also like to thank the students of my spring 2015 Interactive Literature class at the University of Pittsburgh for listening and responding to some of my exploratory ideas about megatexts and Breeze Avenue.
Epigraph drawn from Borges, 118.
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