New Book Announcement – Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media

11Apr14
Digital Modernism Making It New in New Media
Jessica Pressman
240 pages | 20 halftones | 235x156mm
978-0-19-993710-3 | Paperback & Hardcover | 27 February, 2014
From the book’s Introduction:-
McLuhan not only wrote at the midpoint of the twentieth century, but he is also himself  a midpoint between modernism and digital modernism. Donald Theall writes,” since the mid-point of the century a single name, McLuhan, has brooded ghost-like over social and cultural understanding of the intersection of communication, computers, persuasion, and the emergence of a technoculture.” Moreover, Mr. McLuhan is a bridge between literary and media studies because he adopted the role of the modernist poet/critic in the postmodern period using  an understanding of literature that he gained from the New Critics to explain the age of television. I hope we can now see how retracing McLuhan’s connections to the New Criticism shows how he adapted the practices of an earlier cultural moment to address his own. We can learn from McLuhan and do something similar. Indeed understanding McLuhan in this way serves to remind us that we too can and, indeed, must renovate traditional critical practices to suit the needs of our emergent literary culture.
McLuhan saw the world in the midst of transformation due to media shift, and he offered the following query. Posed in the language of modernism (and of vorticism in particular), it could easily serve as a thesis or a probe for the chapters that follow: “May not our job in the new electronic age be to study the action of the new vortex on the body of the older culture?” Reading McLuhan as both a modernist and a theorist of new media, I answer “the Oracle of the Electric Age” in the affirmative. How exactly to go about studying the new vortex of the electric age and its impact on literature is my pursuit in the following chapters.
The full Chapter One, titled, Close Reading: Marshall McLuhan, from Modernism to Media Studies can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/q3h3adk .
Oxford University Press
OUP listing description:
  • Presents surprising juxtapositions between early 20th-century modernist literature and early 21st-century digital texts
  • Covers canonical work by Joyce and Pound alongside lesser known works of electronic literature by William Poundstone and Judd Morrissey
  • Establishes electronic literature as an important area for modernist studies

Digital Modernism examines how and why some of the most innovative works of online electronic literature adapt and allude to literary modernism. Digital literature has been celebrated as a postmodern form that grows out of contemporary technologies, subjectivities, and aesthetics, but this book provides an alternative genealogy. Exemplary cases show electronic literature looking back to modernism for inspiration and source material (in content, form, and ideology) through which to critique contemporary culture. In so doing, this literature renews and reframes, rather than rejects, a literary tradition that it also reconfigures to center around media. To support her argument, Pressman pairs modernist works by Pound, Joyce, and Bob Brown, with major digital works like William Poundstone’s “Project for the Tachistoscope: [Bottomless Pit]” (2005), Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries’s Dakota, and Judd Morrissey’s The Jew’s Daughter. With each pairing, she demonstrates how the modernist movement of the 1920s and 1930s laid the groundwork for the innovations of electronic literature. In sum, the study situates contemporary digital literature in a literary genealogy in ways that rewrite literary history and reflect back on literature’s past, modernism in particular, to illuminate the crucial role that media played in shaping the ambitions and practices of that period. (Source http://tinyurl.com/pgl7g9u )

Jessica Pressman Jessica Pressman

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One Response to “New Book Announcement – Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media


  1. 1 Digital Modernism featured on McLuhan blog

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