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<nettime-ann> literature & new media conf in utrecht (july 4-6)
Geert Lovink on Mon, 2 Jul 2007 22:38:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime-ann> literature & new media conf in utrecht (july 4-6)


Re-Mediating Literature

Recent developments in digital and electronic media have stimulated new theoretical reflections on the nature of media as such and ont he way in which they evolve across time. The aim of this conference is to examine how recent technological changes have affected the 'old' medium of literature.

Multimedial and interactive texts, digitalized archives, cyberpoetics, and technological innovations such as foldable screens: together these have influenced the production and reception of literature, along with the ways in which we think about writing and reading. These onging developments call for a critical examination both of the relations between literature and the new media, and of the relations between literary studies and media studies.

The concept of 'remediation' in ourt title thus has a double thrust. Firstly, it refers to the transformative exchanges between literature and the new media: how has digitalization affected literature as a cultural medium? Secondly, 'remediation' indicates a relocation of literary studies within the broader field of (new) media studies: how could literary studies profit from the various analytical tools developed in (new) media studies and, conversely, how could our understanding of earlier phases in the evolution of the literary medium contribute to our understanding of present developments? By working on both these issues, we hope to relocate the place of literature within the milieu of modern media networks and technologies, but also to relocate the aims and practices of literary studies within the field of media studies.

Main themes:

A. New technologies and literary practices - the state of the field: will literature continue to develop as a schizophrenic medium, a hard medium of printed matter and an unstable medium of electronic data at the same time, or will it fork out in one of two directions? How is digitalization affecting reading practices and the circulation of literary texts? What new forms of intermedial and multimedial literatures are emerging?

B. Literature and the new media - the longer view: what new light do recent developments throw on the history of literature as a cultural medium and, conversely, how might insights from the history of the literary medium contribute to our understanding of recent developments? How can literary history be rewritten in conjunction with such media technologies?

C. Media compatabilities and competitions: new media hardly ever completely subject and annihilate older media. Rather, the two tend to co-exist, each taking on different tasks and responsibilities (cf. film and the novel in the earlier twentieth century). At the same time, however, they often interrupt and compete with each other (cf. television and the digital in the later twentieth century). How can this duplicity or compatability and competition be mapped and analyzed, and which are the insights that such analyses might yield into media formations as techno-cultural formations?

D. Disciplinary reolcations: will literary studies become a branch of media studies in the foreseeable future - and if so, how? Will literary studies profit from such a relocation and how will this relocation affects its objects and methodologies?


Marie-Laure Ryan
"Self-Reflexivity in Net-Art"

Self-reflexivity is widely considered by cognitive scientists a distinctive feature of the human mind. It is therefore not surprising that this fundamental thinking process should manifest itself in most human artistic and intellectual projects. The postmodern fascination with self-reflexivity can be attributed to the sense of pastness that permeates turn-of-the millennium culture. But self-reflexivity could also be a response to the curiosity aroused by the development of a new medium in search of its cultural function. By filling the World Wide Web with images and inverted images of its own utilities and by often making these utilities dysfunctional, Net.art invites us to reflect on the kind of immersion in digital culture that fools us into thinking that we fully control the technology that supports it.

Samuel Weber
"'Seagulls': A 'Script-Image' of Walter Benjamin"

No writer-critic of the 20th century was more attentive to intermedial questions than was Walter Benjamin. One of the forms this attention takes is his notion, and practice, of the "Schriftbild". This talk translates and reads this as a 'Script-Image' (Schriftbild). A Script-Image is both a written image, and one that "scripts" a scenario. This presentation will address one particular staging of a script-image: the short piece entitled "Seagulls" (Möwen), one of five that Benjamin wrote in the summer of 1930 during a three-week trip to Scandinavia and then published under the title, "Nordic Sea" (Nordische See). (An English translation will be made available).

N. Katherine Hayles
"Narrative and Database:  Remediating Literature Through Data"

Recently several theorists have proposed that database is replacing narrative as the dominant cultural form, among them Lev Manovich and Ed Folsom. This presentation will argue for that narrative is essential for human communication and culture, but it will also acknowledge that contemporary narratives are transforming through the impact of data. Remediation here implies that the feedback cycle described by Bolter and Grusin in Remediation can also be understood to take place through different cultural forms as well as through different media, where the dynamics are informed not by the hypermediation/transparency dialectic they describe but rather by the circulation through narrative and data.

Jan Baetens
"Novelization and Intermediality"

This paper tackles first of all the major characteristics of the novelization, a very popular although badly known example of intermediality in 20th Century storytelling (not "the film of the book", but "the book of the film"). Il will give a broad historical survey of the genre, which is actually as old as cinema itself, so to speak. In its second part, the paper tries to define what is really at stake when we study this genre, and why it can be interesting to focus closely on such a "minor", and often espised, practice. Finally, this paper presents a short analysis of one or two case studies, among them the novelization of Jacques Tati's "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot" by Jean-Claude Carrière, a famous French screenwriter (his collaboration with Bunuel is still very famous) and author of various novelizations since his first attempt in the late fifties until today( cf. Goya's Ghosts, 2006).

Joanna Zylinska
"Logos bio-ethikos: What If Foucault Had Had a Blog?"

This paper focuses on one particular domain of contemporary media culture which blurs the boundary between the literary
and the literal:blogging. Arguing that blogs aim at creating an experience of ‘total life’ by building intricate systems of connections between online and offline spaces, personae and narratives, I will explore the extent to which practices facilitated by blogging can be interpreted in terms of bioethics. However, bioethics for me is not limited to the study of ethical issues arising from the biological and medical sciences. Rather it becomes a broadly conceptualised ‘ethics of life’, which requires judgement on what we understand by ‘life’ in its different forms, and on what ‘our’ position as those who deem themselves to be ‘human’ is in this bioethics. Interestingly, Foucault associates the practice of self-writing precisely with an ethos of life. The keeping of individual notebooks focused on the recollection of the past is for him ‘a matter of constituting a logos bioethikos for oneself … , an ethics quite explicitly oriented by concern for the self toward objectives defined as: withdrawing into oneself, getting in touch with oneself, relying on oneself, benefiting from and enjoying oneself’. This phrase ‘logos bioethikos’ provides a key for my ereading of bioethics as a practice of good life, always on the way to becoming-a-good-life. But I suggest Foucault has in mind something much more material and direct than just a story about one’s life and about how it should be lived: this practice of self-writing is actually said to produce ‘a body’. Drawing on Seneca, Foucault claims that ‘writing transforms the thing seen or heard into tissue and blood’. From this perspective diaries and blogs are not just commentaries on someone’s life, already lived to this point but also somehow more ‘real’ outside its narrative; rather they are materialisations of it, as I will argue in this paper. In doing so I will show that in blogging this materialisation occurs very much through an enactment of a different, more embodied, aware, and ‘lively’ relationship with technology.

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