This chapter begins with an investigation of encounters between unified wholes and networked connections, a set of relations that has been absolutely fundamental to cultural studies, from early twentieth-century anthropology to recent scholarship on global flows. It then turns to the overlapping of multiple networks, which is a far more ordinary fact of social life—and a more unsettled and unsettling one—than literary and cultural studies has recognized. It develops an understanding of networked form through two readings. The first Trish Loughran's study of print culture in early America, The Republic in Print, which makes the case that multiple, overlapping networks—mail, print, money, and roads—interrupted each other and frustrated the work of consolidating a new nation. The second is Charles Dickens's Bleak House, a novel that casts social relations as a complex heaping of networks that not only stretch across space but also unfold over time.
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