The Watchman in Pieces


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Surveillance, Literature, and Liberal Personhood

David Rosen and Aaron Santesso

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Price: $65.00
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Spanning nearly 500 years of cultural and social history, this book examines the ways that literature and surveillance have developed together, as kindred modern practices. As ideas about personhood—what constitutes a self—have changed over time, so too have ideas about how to represent, shape, or invade the self. The authors show that, since the Renaissance, changes in observation strategies have driven innovations in literature; literature, in turn, has provided a laboratory and forum for the way we think about surveillance and privacy. Ultimately, they contend that the habits of mind cultivated by literature make rational and self-aware participation in contemporary surveillance environments possible. In a society increasingly dominated by interlocking surveillance systems, these habits of mind are consequently necessary for fully realized liberal citizenship.

David Rosen is associate professor of English at Trinity College, and Aaron Santesso is associate professor of Literature at Georgia Tech.



An ambitious, illuminating, and convincing book. I have rarely been so excited and enlightened by the argument of a literary study as I was by this.”—Edward Mendelson, Columbia University

"The Watchman in Pieces is an erudite, major addition to surveillance studies.  Like Weber, Habermas, and Foucault, though with many differences, the authors are 'rethinking the history of modernity.'"—Patrick Brantlinger, Indiana University

"The Watchmen in Pieces is that rare thing, a well-written academic book. . . . [David Rosen and Aaron Santesso] have helped us toward a far richer understanding of our era and its strange obsession with surveillance."—David Mikics, Modern Language Quarterly

Watchman in Pieces sets out, with impressive scope and sophistication, to attack the vision of panopticism developed in Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1975) . . . as comprehensive as [it is] provocative.”—R. John Williams, American Literature

Winner of the 45th annual James Russell Lowell Prize sponsored by the Modern Language Association.
ISBN: 9780300155419
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
376 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
10 b/w illus.