Category Archives: Novels

Economics, Finance, Capital—and Literature?

Thanks largely to the recent recession, economics has become—for perhaps the first time since the 1980s—a central part of public discourse in America. Economists such as Paul Krugman have become household names, difficult economics texts such as The Black Swan have topped the New York Times Bestsellers list, and hard-to-grasp financial issues such as debt ratings and currency valuations have made it into presidential stump speeches. Within such a context, the de facto position of the humanities with respect to economic logic—that it is either exterior or antithetical to humanistic thought—has been increasingly hard for literature and other humanities disciplines to maintain. The last few years have thus seen an increased interest by both humanities scholars and scholarly organizations in the possibility of a rapprochemont with the discipline of economics.

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Narrative Worlds: A Provisional Definition

In everyday parlance, the word world usually means one of two things. Either it describes a planet—and all of its countries, inhabitants, and natural features—or it describes a confined domain of human experience; that is, a milieu (as in “the world of professional boxing”). We use world in the first sense when engaging in scientific, environmental, or political discourse and in the second when speaking in a sociological or anthropological mode. If you were to browse through recent scholarship in video game studies, transmedia storytelling, and digital-era fiction, however, you’d discover a third usage, employed in discussions of twenty-first-century (and late-twentieth-century) fiction and narrative. Few new media scholars offer explicit definitions of what world means in this context, but in their application of it to fictional texts and intellectual properties they clearly intend for it to signal a new model for understanding narrative. By approaching fictional texts as worlds, it would seem, emphasis shifts from the study of stories themselves to that of the imaginary settings or spheres in which stories happen. It thus becomes possible to think of storytelling as what Henry Jenkins calls “world-building” or, in Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s rendition, the authoring of “vast narratives.”

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DLC as Marketing Tool

After having dinner at a restaurant in a local strip mall, Cultural Production’s imaginary consumer Joe decides to check out the hobby store located a few doors down. Joe, an avid player of the World of Warcraft online game, does not regularly buy the kind of products this store sells, but he enjoys browsing what’s available. On this particular evening, however, a new product catches Joe’s attention: a World of Warcraft trading card game. Joe would like to give the game a try, but has some reservations: the cards are expensive, they may be difficult to learn to play, and they will require that Joe find someone else with whom to play them. Plus the art—at least compared to the other trading card games sharing shelf space with this one—is sub-par.

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