The Digital Banal: New Media and American Literature and Culture

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Colleges, School and Institutes


The condition of the digital banal exists when we don’t notice the affective novelty of our becoming with digital media. Despite the profound ways digital media shape our present moment, and our ways of thinking the future, it is hard to think of them as novel. Digital media are systems and objects we live through rather than look at, and their usefulness is premised on their becoming banal. By turning to a variety of fictional texts which stage everyday encounters with digital media, The Digital Banal looks to recover the mediational novelty of contemporary life.
This book takes digital media as a dominant logic of contemporary culture and locates its affects in recent novels, essays, comics, film and TV shows. Rather than turn to stories of the technological sublime, The Digital Banal is interested in boring, banal ways culture imagines and narrates everyday technologies. In scenes of waiting for email, watching eBay bids, programming labor, worrying about how many likes you have, and how authentic your online friends are being, we encounter ourselves as new media subjects, and digital media as a tangible, visible aspect of life. Most contemporary literary studies position literature apart from its digital machinations, this book interrogates the ways digital media is always informing narratives of contemporary life.
As data subjects living in networks, and as precarious embodied subjects living at the edge of the world’s resources, we should know digital media as anything but banal. This book offers important, timely methods for seeing the digital banal as a politics of suppression. By reading normative cultural practices of representing everyday life in fiction, essays, reality TV, The Digital Banal recovers disturbances that might become ways to recognize and antagonize our new mediational conditions.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherColumbia University Press
Number of pages241
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Oct 2016

Publication series

NameLiterature Now


  • banal theory, mediation, literature, digital banal, new media studies, novelty