Spider Web, Labyrinth, Tightrope Walk explores the shifting functions of the network as a metaphor, model, and as an epistemological framework in US American literature and culture from the 19th century until today. The book critically inquires into the literary, cultural, philosophical, and scientific rhetoric, values, and ideological underpinnings that have given rise to the network concept. Literature and culture play a major role in the ways in which networks have been imagined and how they have evolved as conceptual models. This study regards networks as historically emergent and culturally constructed formations closely tied with the development of knowledge technologies in the process of modernization as well as with an increasingly critical awareness of network technologies and infrastructures. While the rise of the network in scientific, philosophical, political and sociological discourses has received wide attention, this book contributes an important cultural and historical perspective to network theory by demonstrating how US American literature and culture have been key sites for thinking in and about networks in the past two centuries.