Reading at the Social Limit: Affect, Mass Culture, and Edgar Allan Poe

Harry Clarke, Illustration for “Ligeia”

This book represents an effort to think theoretically about Poe’s work in the context of theories of democracy and social belonging. It advances the idea that Poe’s work had a uniquely sophisticated engagement with the fast-evolving protocols of mass democracy and mass entertainment of his era. It uses what was at the time of writing versions of ideology critique that seemed to make best sense of Poe’s tonally ambiguous work.

In one sense, the book I am finishing now–Graphic and Atmospheric: What the Re-Mediation of Poe Tells Us About Transmedial Aesthetics–is the sequel to Reading at the Social Limit.

Michael Moon:

“This is a brilliant exploration of Poe’s writing in relation to the formation of modern mass subjectivity.”