Coda: Immaterial Labour and the Modernist Work of Literature

  • Morag Shiach
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter draws on the concept of ‘immaterial labour’ to explore two key questions: ‘What is the work of literature?’ and ‘How might literary writing best be theorized as “work”?’ The activity of literary writing has proved peculiarly resistant to many theoretical and historical framings of and approaches to labour. The chapter thus proposes that the concept of ‘immaterial labour’ offers a new theoretical and historical framing that generates significant insights into the nature of literary work. Through readings of a range of modernist works, it argues that examining them in relation to ‘immaterial labour’ can enable a fresh approach to some of the ‘difficulties’ in theorising literary writing as a form of work.


Antonio Negri Dorothy Richardson Immaterial labour Marcel Duchamp Marcel Proust Michael Hardt Modernism Maurizio Lazzarato Neoliberalism Precarity Samuel Beckett 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morag Shiach
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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