The Poetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative  book cover
1st Edition

The Poetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 27, 2022
ISBN 9781032423203
December 27, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book uses attention as a prism through which to interrogate the literary text. It starts from analyses of the changes that the mediasphere and communication technologies have brought for the contemporary subject, submitting him/her to the tyranny of a new attention economy. My point is that the contemporary novel and memoir resist such influences and evince a great deal of resilience by promoting an "ecology of attention" (Citton) based on poetic options whose pragmatic effect is to develop an ethics of the particularist type. To do this, I draw on critical and theoretical literature hailing from various fields: psychology, but also more prominently phenomenology, political philosophy, and analytical philosophy (essentially Ordinary Language Philosophy), alongside the ethics of care and vulnerability. By using a selection of fictional and non-fictional narratives, I address such issues as social invisibilities, climate change, AI and cognitive disability and end up drafting a poetics of attention.

Table of Contents



  1. The Attention Economy
  2. A Relatively Recent Category
  3. An Ethical Apparatus
  4. Attention to the Ordinary
  5. Turning towards Literature

Chapter 1: Social Invisibilities

  1. Refugee Tales

    1. Showing
    2. Ghosting
    3. Caring
    4. Raging

  1. Exploring the Closet
    1. Visibilities
    2. Shifting Perceptions
    3. Ending with a Whimper

  2. Wandering with Intent
    1. Investigating the Ordinary
    2. What Matters

Chapter 2: Embedded Visibilities

  1. Seeing the Land
    1. Observing what Is Lost
    2. The Anti-Pastoral
    3. Relationalities
    4. Inventorying

  2. On the Same Spectrum
    1. Collecting the Mundane
    2. Perceptual Realism
    3. Consideration(s)

  3. Discordant Scales
    1. Echoes and Portents
    2. Acknowledging the Anthropocene
    3. Inescapable Entanglements

Chapter 3: Of (Wo)men and Machines

  1. The Time Will Come…
    1. A Time out of Joint
    2. Machines that Mimic Minds?
    3. Quandaries
    4. Beyond Exceptionalism?

  1. Artificial Perception

2.1. An Unwonted Focus

2.2. AI Vulnerability

2.3. Machine Vigilance

Chapter 4: Disabled Brains

  1. Linguistic Impairment
    1. Varying Attentional Tides
    2. Perceptual Immediacy
    3. An "Ethics from down under"

  2. Autobiography and Cognitive Disability
    1. Doubles
    2. Oscillations
    3. Relationality über alles




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Jean-Michel Ganteau is Professor of Contemporary British Literature at the University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (France) and a member of the Academia Europaea. He is the editor of the journal Études britanniques contemporaines. He is the author of four monographs: David Lodge: le choix de l’éloquence (2001), Peter Ackroyd et la musique du passé (2008) and The Ethics and Aesthetics of Vulnerability in Contemporary British Literature (2015), The Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention in Contemporary British Narrative (Routledge 2022, forthcoming). He has published extensively on contemporary British fiction, with a special interest in the ethics of affects trauma criticism and theory, and the ethics of vulnerability, in France and abroad (other European countries, the United States), as chapters in edited volumes or in such journals as Miscelánea, Anglia, Symbolism, The Cambridge Quarterly, and so on.