Cancelled-Big Books / Big Data Size and Scale in Literature, Digital Media and Architecture

Big Books / Big Data

Size and Scale in Literature, Digital Media and Architecture

University of Amsterdam, 16-06-’20, 16.00

Influenced by digitalization and the rise of big data, we see increasing attention to the topic of size and scale in culture, media, and literature, but also as topics of investigation in the humanities and social sciences at large. Such issues are particularly timely in an era in which processes of digitalization and globalization converge and intersect, and during which the scale on which we consider aesthetic, ethical, and political relations is expanding. This seminar brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss the role of size, scale, monumentality, or gigantism in relation to books and literature, other media, and architecture, in the light of digitalizatiton and datafication.

Henriette Steiner, associate professor Landscape Architecture and Planning, and Kristin Veel, associate professor in the department of Arts and Cultural Studies, both from the University of Copenhagen, will talk about their book A Tower to Tower: Gigantism in Architecture and Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2020). In this work, they map and critique the trajectory of gigantism in architecture and digital culture―the convergence of tall buildings and networked infrastructures―from the Eiffel Tower to One World Trade Center.

Inge van de Ven, assistant professor Culture Studies at Tilburg University, will present on her book Big Books in Times of Big Data (Leiden U.P. 2019), which examines recent trends of size and scale in the novel in terms of the shift from the bound book to the newer materialities of the digital, in works by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, and Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann.

Kiene Brillenburg Wuth, full professor of Literature and Media and Utrecht University, will present on the sublime and the materiality of literature in a digital age.

Registration: please send an email to and do not forget to mention your affiliation.

For RMA and PhD-students, there is the possibility to obtain 2 ECTS for attending the event, reading a selection from Inge van de Ven’s Big Books in Times of Big Data, and writing a short (1000-2000 word) essay on the basis of this. The best essays will be published on Diggit Magazine. For more information and access to the text, contact Inge at

This event is sponsored by NICA and OSL.