CANCELED Varieties of Digital Literary Studies: Macro, Micro, Meso?

March 23, 2020 - 12:00pm

Williams Hall 623

UPDATE: This event has been CANCELLED due to the COVID-19 Outbreak

Digital literary studies constitutes a broad church.  However, the field tends to divide into, at one pole, quantitative, macro-level studies of historical literary texts and, at the other pole, close-readings of individual born-digital literary works, typically hyper-avant-garde in conception.  There is, in practice, little interplay between the two groupings.  This paper sketches a proposed ‘meso’ space in between the two extant levels.  Drawing on work in book history and literary sociology, this mid-level approach would examine digital technology’s role in recasting contemporary mainstream literature: powerful new digital intermediaries; blurring of author/reader/reviewer roles; and algorithmic scrutiny of formerly opaque cultural processes. 

Acknowledging the existence of this digital literary sphere prompts urgent follow-on questions for the literary studies discipline: what are the proper objects of our analysis; what modes of discourse are appropriate to talk about them; where should such work take place institutionally; for what audiences; and via what pedagogical practices?

The paper will sketch new pathways for literary studies to engage fully with the digital present.

Simone Murray is Associate Professor in Literary Studies at Monash University, Melbourne and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her book Mixed Media: Feminist Presses and Publishing Politics (Pluto Press UK/U.Michigan P, 2004) was awarded the 2005 DeLong Book Prize by the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.  Her second monograph, The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation (Routledge US, 2012) has been widely reviewed in English-, French-, German- and Swedish-language publications.  Her third monograph, The Digital Literary Sphere: Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018), examines how the internet has transformed literary culture.  A new book, Introduction to Contemporary Print Culture: Books as Media, is about to go to press with Routledge UK (2020).