March 30-31st, 2012
Yale University, New Haven, CT
23rd annual Graduate Student Conference
“Media determine our situation.” The dictum of Friedrich Kittler is
probably one of the most important and far-reaching coming out of the study
of German literature in the last decades. In the spirit and on the paths of
the late Friedrich Kittler we invite scholars of all fields to explore
mediatic practices and their constitutive value of the past and the
present. One guiding conundrum is the question of “textuality.” Text and
textual practices are the center around which humanities rotate. More than a
hundred years after print lost its monopoly as the guiding medium of
cultural production with the invention of audio/visual media we still use
“text” as our primary approach to media, that is, text retains its monopoly
as the medium of cultural interpretation. With Derrida’s claim that
“everything is a text,” the inflation or favoring of only one medium over
any other was ennobled. Meanwhile those non-textual media that had already
taken over the mediatic practices of the everyday were dismissed.
But is this practice still valid? Is the “secondary orality” (Ong) that we
live in really still as text-based as we perceive it to be? In an age where
we have already thoroughly traced the alterative influence that the media
had on texts in the last 150+ years (cf. Kittler), in an age when the
presence of the author in the media is prevalent, that emphasizes the Oprah
book-club over the text of the novel itself, in an age of Kindle and iPads
that have changed media and text consumption practices, where performances
(be they political or artistic), film, TV and video games have replaced the
printed text as the media of the public imaginary, should “text” still be
our primary focus and approach? And to what extent have disciplines already
opened themselves up to non-textual mediatic practices?
The keynote address will be given by Wolfgang Ernst [HU Berlin]
Wolfgang Ernst teaches media theory and media studies at the
Humboldt-University Berlin. His books include: Das Rumoren der Archive.
Ordnung aus Unordnung, Im Namen von Geschichte. Sammeln– Speichern –
(Er-)Zählen and Das Gesetz des Gedächtnisses. Medien und Archive am Ende
(des 20. Jahrhunderts).
Selected writings by Wolfgang Ernst in English:
and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Abstracts should be limited to 300 words.
We welcome papers on topics including, but not limited to:
• Limitations of ‘text’ as a metaphor for all media, from print to audio-visual
• What does it mean to ‘read’ a film or a piece of music?/ What are the hermeneutic strategies or methods of exegesis specific to each medium?
• ‘German’/’American’ media studies
• The return of orality in media [audiobooks, oral poetry, oral authorship]
• authors, auteurs and the concept of “text” reconsidered
• post-textual typography
• personal soundscapes [from the walkman to the ipod]
• graphics vs text
• index/icon/symbol and the digital
• alphanumeric codes as text?
• personal media aesthetics: from imagining lives as novels to lives as films
• lyrics turn to sound samples – text and (non)textuality in music
• personal (tele-)presence vs textual absence
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