American Lit Remixed identifies a new sound in literature emerging after the digital revolution. It reads works by Jennifer Egan, Sherman Alexie, and others through the lenses of remix theory -- the term Eduardo Navas coined to describe the remix as a form of artistic and cultural discourse -- and the music industry’s preoccupations with nostalgia and authenticity, arguing that digital-age fiction, poetry, and drama remix the music and technology of the past to offer new modes of connecting to self, others, and place. Musical features such as references to popular songs, structural similarities to music recordings, and thematic treatment of the riffing and borrowing endemic within popular music lend a retro sound, feel, and structure to contemporary American texts, even when they refer to life in the digital era. Through engaging with the musical past, literature resists nostalgia and remixes the twenty-first century’s dystopian, disconnected ethos to find possibility and hope for the future. Critics often focus on technology’s negative impact on the music industry, but American Lit Remixed emphasizes music as a source of creative potential in twenty-first-century literature, including new ways of storytelling and relating.
Melissa J. Strong is professor at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP).
Chapter 1: Intro: “a new soundtrack” for American literature
Chapter 2: Fiction on Record: A Visit from the Goon Squad
Chapter 3: Alexie’s iPods and Cover Songs
Chapter 4: Remixes on the Stage and the Page
Chapter 5: Outro
In American Lit Remixed, music talks and fiction sings. Melissa Strong daringly bridges the gap between sound and letters by turning a sharp eye (and ear) to the dialogue between rock 'n roll and contemporary fiction, tracing out a multi-sensory and uniquely American narrative that upends cultural hierarchies and challenges some of our most sacred myths about rock and literature.
American Lit Remixed is an unexpected and refreshing analysis of literary works as mixtapes. Melissa Strong examines the shaping and reshaping that literature and music have performed on each other with their clear reliance on technological innovation. Approached as a literary mixtape in its own right, this book provides a focused analysis of selected creative writing pieces that share a clear lineage with Rock music and its ongoing influence across our sprawling musical landscape.