Literary Secretaries, Secretarial Culture

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Secretaries are the hidden technicians of much literary (and non-literary) writing; they also figure startlingly often as characters in modern literature, film, and even literary criticism. Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture brings together secretaries' role in the production (and, more surprisingly, consumption) of modern culture with interpretations of their function in literature and film from Chaucer to Heidegger, by way of Dickens, Dracula, and Erle Stanley Gardner. These essays probe the relation of office practice to literary theory, asking what changes when literary texts represent, address, or acknowledge the human copyist or the mechanical writing machine. Topics range from copyright law to voice recognition software, from New Women to haunted typewriters and from the history of technology to the future of information management. Together, the essays will provide literary critics with a new angle on current debates about gender, labour, and the material text, as well as a window into the prehistory of our information age.