Shelving books? Representations of the library in contemporary texts

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Established for over two decades, archive studies have often conflated the archive and the library, leading to the theoretical neglect of the latter. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, however, critical and historical works on the library have been on the increase. At the same time, a body of fictional texts offers a very specific representation of the library in the digital age. The literary libraries discussed here – a sample published post-2000, drawn from seven national literatures and representing various genres – champion the codex and construct the library as an affective, nostalgic material space. Acknowledging the ubiquity of digitization whilst nonetheless eschewing a simplistic material/ digital binary, they rework familiar tropes such as the universal library, the library destroyed, and the library as a symbol or repository of cultural memory. Finally, these are spaces of (gendered) familial psychic dramas, tracing oedipal conflicts, family romances and troubled transgenerational legacies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
JournalComparative Critical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017


  • Library
  • Digitization
  • Codex
  • (un)heimlich


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