• The Mediated Nature of Literature: Exploring the Artistic Significance of the Visible Text

      Margolis, Joseph, 1924-; Feagin, Susan L., 1948-; Wolfsdorf, David, 1969- (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)
      My goal in this dissertation is to shed light on a practice in printed literature often overlooked in philosophy of literature. Contemporary works of literature such as Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Irvine Welsh’s Filth each make artistic use of the features specific to printed literature such as font and formatting. I show that, far from being trivial aberrations, artistic use of font and formatting has a strong historical tradition going back to the Bucolic poets of ancient Greece. When these features deviate from traditional methods of inscription and perform some artistic function within the work, they are artistically significant features of the works themselves. The possibility of the artistic significance of these features is predicated on works of printed literature being visually mediated when one reads to oneself. All works of literature are mediated by some sense modality. When a work of printed literature is meant to be read to oneself, it is mediated by the modality of sight. Features specific to this method of mediation such as font and formatting can make artistic contributions to a text as well. Understanding the artistic significance of such features questions where we see literature with respect to other art forms. If these features are artistically significant, we can no longer claim that works of printed and oral literature are both the same performative art form. Instead, philosophy of literature must recognize that works of printed literature belong to a visually mediated, non-performative, multiple instance art form separate from the performative tradition of oral literature.