Thesis Advisor: Heather Houser Reader: Chad Bennett Topic: The effect of media and criticism on the perception of Jonathan Franzen and his three most recent novels. Motivating questions: - A: What impact does the media and publishing industry have on public perception of authors? What is the historical basis for this phenomenon? - B: How does Franzen’s work diverge from the public perception, and what developments in the nature of media have made such a divergence possible? The significance of each motivating question: - A: There is a tradition of the media turning authorial persona into a commodified object, especially in regards to the idea of the “Great American Novelist.” Franzen, despite being lauded as such, has yet to enter the conversation. - B: Franzen’s celebrity is a vital example of the extent to which media can control and shape information, especially in regards to the commodified images of celebrities. Your primary sources: - Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections, The Discomfort Zone, How to Be Alone, Freedom, Farther Away, Purity. - Philip Weinstein: Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage Secondary sources: - Ribbat, Christoph. “Handling the Media, Surviving ‘The Corrections: Jonathan Franzen and the Fate of the Author” - Punday, Daniel. “Audience Today: Between Literature and Performance.” Chapter 6 of Computing as Writing. - Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. The Anxiety of Obsolescence: the American Novel in the Age of TV - Poole, RJ. "Serving the Fruitcake, Or Jonathan Franzen's Midwestern Poetics." - Rebein, Robert. "Turncoat: Why Jonathan Franzen Finally Said 'no' to Po-Mo." - Barlow, Aaron. Star Power: The Impact of Branded Celebrity - Driscoll, Beth. The New Literary Middlebrow: Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century - Guins, Raiford, and Omayra Z. Cruz. Popular Culture: A Reader - Moran, Joe. Star Authors: Literary Celebrity in America - Rubin, Joan S. The Making of Middlebrow Culture - Kaufman, Scott Eric. “5 More Quintessentially Franzen-esque Reasons to Hate Jonathan Franzen” - Grossman, Lev. Jonathan Franzen: Great American Novelist. Approach: - 1. Establish Franzen’s persona. 2. Explore the history of manipulation of persona. 3. Talk about commodification, kitsch, and TV.