The arc and the machine

Narrative and new media

By Caroline Bassett

The arc and the machine


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7343-4
  • Pages: 228
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: April 2014
  • BIC Category: Popular culture, LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Literature & literary studies / Literary theory, Society & social sciences / Popular culture, Cultural Studies, Social & cultural anthropology


The arc and the machine is a timely and original defence of narrative in an age of information. Stressing interpretation and experience alongside affect and sensation it convincingly argues that narrative is key to contemporary forms of cultural production and to the practice of contemporary life. Re-appraising the prospects for narrative in the digital age, it insists on the centrality of narrative to informational culture and provokes a critical re-appraisal of how innovations in information technology as a material cultural form can be understood and assessed.

The book offers a careful exploration of narrative theory, a sophisticated critique of techno-cultural writing and a series of tightly focused case studies. All of which point the way to a restoration of a critical - rather than celebratory - approach to new media. The scope and range of this book is broad, its argumentation careful and exacting, and its conclusions exciting.


1. Narrative machines
2. 'Beautiful Patterns of Bits': cybernetics, interfaces, new media
Part 1: The thing itself: technology and determination
Part 2: Contemporary technocultures
3. Those with whom the archive dwells
4. Annihilating all that's made? legends of virtual community
5. 'Just Because' stories: On Elephant


Caroline Bassett is Reader in Digital Media in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex

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