Lecture: Introduction to Week 11

“The danger in applying critical models developed for print is that the new possibilities opened for literary creation and interpretation will simply not be seen. Whatever limitations intermediation as a theory may have, its virtue as a critical framework is that it introduces computation into the picture at a fundamental level, making it not an optional add-on but a foundational premise from which to launch further interrogation.” – H. Katherine Hayles, “Intermediation: From Page to Screen,” Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary, 83

The common theme that unified our readings this week, both Hayles’ “Intermediation: From Screen to Page” and Price’s “Edition, Project, Database, Archive: Thematic Research Collection: What’s in a Name?” is the understanding that digital technologies and environments open up new possibilities for how we produce and engage with texts of all sorts. If we fail to recognize this, we risk approaching our new media environment (the digital) with the assumptions and practices of the old (print). To invoke McLuhan, we run the risk of “look[ing] at the present through a rear-view mirror,” and in doing so we risk simply not seeing the new: the new ways of making meaning, the new ways texts can work, the new ways we interact with texts, the new ways we can explore and analyze texts, and the new ways we are called on to interact with them.

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