Digital Humanities and the Study of Intermediality in Comparative Cultural Studies
by Steven Totosy de Zepetnek — Purdue University and Purdue University Press
April 15, 2013 – 18:18
Digital humanities and the study of intermediality in comparative cultural studies is about how intermediality influences the negotiation of culture(s)—in theory and application—and how, cultural practices shape the use of (new) media and their social significance. The notion of intermediality—a concept of old, but with renewed perspectives and practices in digital humanities—raises a number of issues including social and cultural practices, pedagogy, aspects of globalization, the cultural industries, the publishing of scholarship online, etc. A paradox is that neither social theories concerning modernity, modern publicity or the media, nor humanities theories regarding different cultural forms, types of texts, or genres have paid enough attention to the fact that "the past and present of contemporary culture and media are indeed part and parcel of multimodal and intermedial culture and media" (Lehtonen, Mikko. "On No Man's Land: Theses on Intermediality." Nordicom Review 22.1 : 71). The processing, production, and marketing of cultural products such as music, film, radio, television programs, books, journals, and newspapers determine that today almost all aspects of production and distribution are digitized. Culture today is multimodal as it makes use of technology, as well as symbolic forms (Lehtonen, Mikko. "On No Man's Land: Theses on Intermediality." Nordicom Review 22.1 : 75). Hence the relevance of the study of intermediality and digitality in various humanities and social sciences disciplines and fields. Similar to intermediality studies, digital humanities is (an emerging) field of study both with regard to the construction of theoretical frameworks and their application in the study of culture and the application of new media technology including pedagogy, the publication of scholarship, etc. At a time when many disciplines and fields in the humanities and social sciences are defined as processes of multi-, inter-, and trans-medial construction, interaction, and practice, the development and study of their encounters take on a primary relevance to scholarship and this perspective is a primary point of departure.
Intermediality is a phenomenon for the creation of new forms of artistic and critical innovation, among others to find ways for their distribution (i.e., open access to scholarship published on the world wide web), new scholarship about intermedial and interdisciplinary perspectives of old and new products of culture, the link(s) of cultural communities in cyberspace, and to be applied as a vehicle for innovative educational practices. Discursive practices including visualities form a complex (inter)medial network of signifying practices which construct realities rather than simple representations of them. Socially constructed meaning or what we call and practice as "culture" take place through processes of the negotiation of stories, images, and meanings; that is, through constructed and contextual agreements, power relations, and their authorization and legitimation of social positions and loci. Therefore, the ways (inter)medial discursive practices are produced, processed, and transmitted are relevant for research and practice and this occurs, increasingly, in digital humanities. (see Digital Humanities and the Study of Intermediality in Comparative Cultural Studies. Ed. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek. West Lafayette: Purdue Scholarly Publishing Services, 2013. http://www.thepress.purdue.edu/titles/format/9781626710023 & New Perspectives on Material Culture and Intermedial Practice. Ed. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, Asunción López-Varela Azcárate, Haun Saussy, and Jan Mieszkowski. Thematic Issue CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 13.3 (2011): http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol13/iss3/).
Image on front page by Gary Hayes and available on Flickr.