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Local Transcendence cover Local Transcendence spine Local Trascendence back cover
Citation: Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.


[392 pp., ISBN-10: 0226486966, ISBN-13: 978-0226486963]

Book of essays on the methodology of the new historicism and other modes of postmodern cultural criticism in the age of the network and the database (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)

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Citation: “When Was Linearity?: The Meaning of Graphics in the Digital Age.” Digital History. Web. August, 2008. <>

Currents in Electronic LiteracyCitation: “Literature+.” Currents in Electronic Literacy (Spring 2008). <>

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Companion to Digital Literary StudiesCitation: “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Ed. Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007. 3-25

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Citation: “Higher Education and Online Lifelong Learning: Five Theses.” Academy Exchange, Issue 6 (Summer 2007): 34-35.Five Theses

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Citation: “The Humanities: A Technical Profession.” Andrew Delbanco, Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Alan Liu, and Catharine R. Stimpson, The Idea and Ideals of the University. ACLS Occasional Paper No. 63, 2007.

[Note: This paper was first presented as a talk at the Annual Meeting of the ACLS, 8 May 2004, then revised slightly for publication in 2007 in the ACLS Occasional Papers online series. Though this revision stays close to the talk, it adopts some of the changes made for the first published essay version of the paper: the 2005 article (also titled “The Humanities: A Technical Profession”) in Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media, ed. Michael Hanrahan and Deborah Madsen (Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005): 11-26.]

(For an excerpt, see the entry for the above mentioned, closely similar, 2005 article.)

Citation: “Understanding Knowledge Work.” Criticism 47 (2005): 249-60. Essay written as invited response to Johanna Drucker’s and N. Katherine Hayles’s reviews in the same issue of Criticism of The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information

  • Full text — HTML | .pdf (Project Muse)
  • Full text of the reviews of The Laws of Cool to which this essay responds (Project Muse):
    • N. Katherine Hayles, “Attacking the Borg of Corporate Knowledge Work: The Achievement of Alan Liu’s The Laws of Cool” — HTML | .pdf
    • Johanna Drucker, “Humanities Games and the Market in Digital Futures” — HTML | .pdf

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Citation: “A Transformed Revolution: The Prelude, Books 9-13.” William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude”: A Casebook. Ed. Stephen Gill. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 341-75.

[Excerpt from chapter 8 of Wordsworth: The Sense of History.]


Citation: “The Humanities: A Technical Profession.” Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media. Ed. Michael Hanrahan and Deborah Madsen. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 11-26.

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Citation: “The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning.” The Wordsworthian Enlightenment: Romantic Poetry and the Ecology of Reading. Ed. Helen Regueiro Elam and Frances Ferguson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. 149-57.

[Reprint of “The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning,” Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 553-62.]


Citation: Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merrilee Proffitt, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Version 1.1. August 5, 2005. Electronic Literature Organization. Retrieved [date of access]. <>.

This white paper is part of the Electronic Literature Organization’s PAD (Preservation / Archiving / Dissemination) initiative. PAD aims to create methods for preserving or migrating experimental, “born-digital” works of creative literature that are perishing with their original hardware and software environments.

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Citation: “Transcendental Data: Toward A Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse.” Critical Inquiry 31 (2004): 49-84.

  • DOI: 10.1086/427302
  • Full text (post-embargo published version in institutional repository, PDF)
  • Full text (paywalled, Jstor)
  • Full text (paywalled, Univ. of Chicago Press Journals)

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Citation: The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.


[552 pages, ISBN-10: 0226486990, ISBN-13: 978-0226486994]

book spine back cover back cover front cover

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Citation: “Sidney’s Technology: A Critique by Technology of Literary History.” Acts of Narrative. Ed. Carol Jacobs and Henry Sussman. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. 174-94.

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Citation: “Remembering the Spruce Goose: Historicism, Postmodernism, Romanticism.” South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2003): 263-78.

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Citation: William Wordsworth. Ed. Alan Liu. Illustrator, James Muir. Poetry for Young People. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2003.

Jacket blurb: “William Wordsworth’s finest poems take you on a captivating adventure to another time and place. Fantastic color paintings portray the mountains and lakes, and the people who lived by them, that Wordsworth writes about in his lyrical verses.”

[48 pp., 35 illustrations;
ISBN-10: 0806982772,
ISBN-13: 978-0806982779]

William Wordsworth edition for children William Wordsworth edition for children (back)

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Citation: “The Future Literary: Literature and the Culture of Information.” Time and the Literary. Ed. Karen Newman, Jay Clayton, and Marianne Hirsch. New York: Routledge, 2002. 61-100.

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Citation: Bruce Bimber, Kevin Almeroth, Rob Patton, Dorothy Chun, Andrew Flanagin, and Alan Liu. March 4, 2002. Center for Information Technology and Society, University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved [date of access]. <>

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Citation: “Knowledge in the Age of Knowledge Work.” Profession 1999: 113-24.

  • Also available online.
  • See also: Alan Liu, “Reply” to letter from William Pitsenberger regarding “Knowledge in the Age of Knowledge Work.” Profession 2000: 186-88.

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Citation: “The Downsizing of Knowledge: Knowledge Work and Literary History.” Abridged and edited by Randolf Starn. In Alan Liu, Miryam Sas, Albert Ascoli, and Sharon Marcus. Knowledge Work, Literary History, and the Future of Literary Studies. Ed. Randolf Starn. Doreen B. Townsend Center Occasional Papers, No. 15. Berkeley, Calif.: Townsend Center, 1998. 1-22.

[Includes response essays by Miryam Sas, Albert Ascoli, and Sharon Marcus to the original paper delivered at the Townsend Center on March 12, 1998.]

  • Full text of pamphlet (.pdf)

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Citation: “Globalizing the Humanities: ‘The Voice of the Shuttle: Web Page for Humanities Research.'” Humanities Collections 1.1 (1998): 41-56.

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Citation: “The New Historicism and the Work of Mourning.” Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 553-62.

[Special issue of Studies in Romanticism entitled “Essays in Honor of Geoffrey H. Hartman.” Guest editor Helen Regueiro Elam.]

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This is one of the earliest “blog” essays I wrote–so early that it preceded the era of blogs.


Citation: “Should We Link to the Unabomber? An Essay on Practical Web Ethics.” English Department, UC Santa Barbara, 9 October 1995.


Date: 9 October 1995

Background: The Emergence of the Unabomber Manifesto on the Net

Shortly after the publication of the Unabomber’s “Manifesto on Industrial Society and its Future” in the New York Times and Washington Post on Sept. 19, 1995, Time-Warner mounted the Manifesto on its Web server and made it available as a subpage (titled “Unabomber: Tightening the Net”) from its Pathfinder home page. The link to the full text of the Manifesto is accompanied on the “Tightening the Net” page by links to a variety of mainstream media stories and commentary as well as by updates on the FBI’s manhunt. Copies of the Manifesto have subsequently also appeared on other servers on the net.

The Issue: To Link or Not to Link From a Scholarly Research Page

The Manifesto, its context, and its reception are events of major interest to scholars in such fields as science-technology-and-culture, sociology, journalism, etc. This is all the more so because the distinctly academic style of argumentation and language in the Manifesto (which comes complete with the bomber’s endnotes) establishes an intense feedback loop or “reverb” with the academic institutions whose faculty and staff have been among the bomber’s favorite targets–and casualties.

Given the nature of the Manifesto’s original publication history, however (i.e., violently coerced), the ethics of participating to any degree in the further dissemination of the document is problematic. This is certainly the case if one were considering mounting a duplicate of the whole document on one’s server. But it is also the case, however attenuated and primarily symbolic, if one is merely considering creating a link to the document as it exists on someone else’s server.

In the broadest perspective, the Unabomber incident is a uniquely compelling test of the ethics of pure research. . . .


Citation: “The History in ‘Imagination.” Romanticism: A Critical Reader. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995. 84-119.

[Reprint of chapter 1 of Wordsworth: The Sense of History.]


Citation: “Die interdisziplinäre Kriegsmaschine.” Texte zur Kunste, No. 12 (Nov. 1993): 127-37.

[German abridged version of “The Interdisciplinary War Machine,” later published in English in Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database).]


Citation: “The Economy of Lyric: The Ruined Cottage.” Romantic Poetry: Recent Revisionary Criticism. Ed. Karl Kroeber and Gene W. Ruoff. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993. 139-53.

[Abridged reprint of chapter 7 of Wordsworth: The Sense of History.]


Citation: “Local Transcendence: Cultural Criticism, Postmodernism, and the Romanticism of Detail.” Representations 32 (Fall 1990): 75-113.

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Citation: “Wordsworth and Subversion: Trying Cultural Criticism.” Yale Journal of Criticism 2.2 (Spring 1989): 55-100.

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Citation: Wordsworth: The Sense of History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.


[726 pp., ISBN-10: 0804718938, ISBN-13: 978-0804718936]

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Citation: “The Power of Formalism: The New Historicism.” ELH 56 (1989): 721-71.

  • DOI: 10.2307/2873158
  • Open access (published version in institutional repository, viewable online and downloadable as PDF)
  • Paywalled (published version, PDF)
  • Translations of essay:
    • “El Poder del Formalismo: El Nuevo Historicismo.” Nuevo Historicismo. Ed. Antonio Penedo y Gonzalo Pontón. Madrid: Arco/Libros, 1998. 193-261.
    • “Die Macht des Formalismus: Der New Historicism.” New Historicism. Literaturgeschichte als Poetik der Kultur. Ed. Moritz Baßler. Frankfurt am M.: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1995. 94-163.
    • “Il potere del formalismo:il nuovo storicismo.” Trans. Angela Tranfo. L’Asino d’oro 4.8 (November 1993; special issue on “Il nuovo storicismo“): 78-122.


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Citation: Review Article on David Simpson’s Wordsworth’s Historical Imagination. The Wordsworth Circle 19 (1988): 172-81.

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Citation: “Christopher Smart’s ‘Uncommunicated Letters’: Translation and the Ethics of Literary History.” Boundary 2, 14.1-2 (1985-86): 115-46.

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Citation: “Wordsworth: The History in ‘Imagination.'” ELH 51 (1984): 505-48.

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Citation: “On the Autobiographical Present: Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journals.” Criticism 26 (1984): 115-37.

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Citation: “Toward a Theory of Common Sense: Beckford’s Vathek and Johnson’s Rasselas.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 26 (1984): 183-217.

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Citation: “‘Shapeless Eagerness’: The Genre of Revolution in Books 9-10 of The Prelude.” Modern Language Quarterly 43 (1982): 3-28.

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Citation: Alan Liu, “On the Hill,” The Little Magazine (Dragon Press / B. DeBoer) 10.3-4 (Fall-Winter, 1976): 13-24

Short story published in 1976 and included in my thesis for the M.A. in Creative Writing, Stanford University, 1979.  (Full text as PDF)