Blog Round Up 1: Bibliotics, Verve, Hypertext, and Aura

We are beginning the semester by trying to think through the question of digital textuality. In concrete terms, we might imagine ourselves wondering: how does the fact of digitization change our study of works of literature (and, indeed, culture more broadly—a breadth worth remaining sensitive to, especially for you folks interested in film, new media, and visual culture)? Does it? This is a question most appropriate to media studies and we might fairly wonder if it is relevant to works of literature (etc) at all. After all, we don’t study paper, do we? (And here, students of book history and bibliography should already be on high alert).

In our first set of blog posts we find folks picking up discussions from our first meeting as well as venturing into (and off from) the essays and chapters we’re reading this week; the discussions are sufficiently numerous that I’ll leave the potential for cross-pollination until class meets.

In this week’s posts:

  • Adam Kozaczka follows a footnote from Kirschenbaum in order to explore nineteenth century textual materiality and forensics as practiced by Persifor Frazer. In Frazer, Adam finds: “a kind of inter, extra, meta (and maybe even hyper) –textual[ity]. Adding a nineteenth century voice to the ‘is literature data?’ debate, Bibliotics expands the concept of ‘text’ by locating the technical aspects of writing as evidence.”
  • EM pleasantly amplifies a note from our first meeting by tracing Stephen Marche’s fascination with Macbeth‘s “rooky wood” to Empson, in order to tease out a more sensitive reading of the relationship between “literature” and “data.” Along the way he suggests something potentially scandalous: “The goodness or badness or literary scholarship is a question, simply, of verve.” I’ll reserve my own scandalized response for the comment thread.
  • Staci ruminates on remediation and wonders about the contradictions inherent in the model of relation between media Bolter & Grusin’s account. She focuses in particular on their description of hypertext and their claim that “replacement is the essence of hypertext,” wondering to what extent this description falls into the trap Kirschenbaum describes, of treating new media as fleeting and ephemeral.
  • Jordan’s post treats of sacred cows and petting zoos, in order to find, in Latour and Lowe’s rejection of Waler Benjamin’s famous account of aura a lingering (and, to Jordan I take it, pernicious) residue of auratic conservatism. At the heart of this critque is Jordan’s insistence: “Interpretation != replication.” I take it that Jordan (in the spirit of Benjamin?) wants to preserve the progressive tendency of the former against the conservative tendency of the latter—and doing so requires us to not, as Latour & Lowe do, so easily collapse them.

I’ll see you folks tomorrow evening.

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