This essay approaches Richard Wright’s naturalist novel Native Son (1940) as a statistically informed project that explores probability and potentiality not as theoretical concepts but as material and historical phenomena instantiated by the emerging statistical governance of the New Deal state. I demonstrate the ways Bigger is rendered as information throughout the novel to show that Wright’s work anticipates how the state was increasingly relying on nonvisual, informatic processes of perception, foreshadowing the racialized data of the digital age.
Everybody’s Statistical Record: Richard Wright and the Determinations of Late Naturalism
DEVIN WILLIAM DANIELS is Visiting Assistant Professor of Literatures in English at Bryn Mawr College. His research focuses on twentieth-century literature and film, information technology, and the state. His other work is published or forthcoming in Mediations, English Studies in Africa, Contemporaries at Post45, and Hyped on Melancholy.
Devin William Daniels; Everybody’s Statistical Record: Richard Wright and the Determinations of Late Naturalism. Representations 1 November 2023; 164 (1): 115–136. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2023.164.5.115
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