Novels and Imperialism

While working on the Network Culture book, I’ve been thinking about the absorption of identity politics into a globalized idea of art and literature (what Bourriaud labels as "altermodern").
 
On a global scale, this parallels the absorption of dialects into a national language during the early modern state. As this happened, dialects did not just disappear, but rather continued to exist and were even incorporated into literature. 
 
Wlad Gozich and Nicholas Spadaccini have reflected on this with respect to the novel Don Quijote: 
 
“Its famous dialogical structure represents an attempt to inscribe as many discourses as possible within its frame. The only question is who can read them. In a sense, the answer is: the state. Only the state can claim to be the adequate subject for reading a novel like the Quijote. … In practice this means that such a novel serves to provide its readers with an experience of what it is like to look at things from the perspective of the state…” (citation)
 
The ideal reader of Don Quijote takes in the text from the perspectival viewpoint of the omniscient narrator, occupying the position of the state itself to embrace the different dialects within the text (or nation) as one whole. Today’s reader takes in the diversity of global art and literature from the position of our contemporary master reader, Empire. 

So, too, if the novel allowed colonial powers such as the British to create a new shared cultural field that they could share with their subjects in the form of a medium posited as universal, superseding existing structures, the Internet promises a single world order, made possible through technology, undoing the specificity of the local except as it continues to exist for cultural consumption. 

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