Nicholas Paige is a professor in the Department of French at UC Berkeley. The bulk of his teaching and research concerns the early modern period, essentially the 17th and 18th centuries. His latest book (forthcoming from Cambridge UP) is Technologies of the Novel: Quantitative Data and the Evolution of Literary Systems. The study, which was supported by a Guggenheim fellowship, aims to be the first quantitative history of the novel: it traces the incubation, development, and subsequent abandonment of a variety of formal devices via a systematic sampling of the production of French- and English-language novels over the years 1600-1830. Drawing from studies of the evolution of technological artifacts, Paige argues that the novel is not one evolving (or “rising”) entity, but rather a system composed of discrete forms in constant but patterned flux. His previous book, Before Fiction: The Ancien Régime of the Novel (U Penn Press, 2011), awarded the 2013 ASECS Gottschalk prize for best book on the 18th century, offers a history of the novel from the point of view of fictionality (here, the notion that literary characters need not be “real people”); some of the methodological points raised in that study propel the data-driven approach of Technologies of the Novel. His current long-form project is on the making and unmaking of aesthetic hierarchies in literature and the visual arts from the Renaissance to the present.
Research Expertise and Interest
17th- and 18th-century French literature and culture, history and theory of the novel, quantitative literary history and digital humanities, aesthetics and image theory, cinema (French New Wave)