Comparative Textual Media

Comparative Textual Media

Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era

Edited by N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman

Proposes a new paradigm for the humanities by recognizing print as a medium within a comparative context

344 Pages, 6 x 9 in



Comparative Textual Media

Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era

Series: Electronic Mediations

Edited by N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman

ISBN: 9780816680047

Publication date: December 1st, 2013

344 Pages


8 x 5

"The clear theoretical, methodological, didactic, and institutional program of this book and the electrifying qualities of the essays that illustrate it make Comparative Textual Media not only a landmark publication, but a sign of hope for textual studies in general."—Image (&) Narrative

"Comparative Textual Media mounts a successful argument for rethinking the way textual production is considered, and for situating printed matter among other media as an object of study itself."—Information & Culture

"Comparative Textual Media is carefully arranged into three parts each containing four essays, which interact so beautifully with one another that readers will most benefit from reading each individual section in its entirety."—Journal of Modern Literature

"An intense body of work."—Neural

For the past few hundred years, Western cultures have relied on print. When writing was accomplished by a quill pen, inkpot, and paper, it was easy to imagine that writing was nothing more than a means by which writers could transfer their thoughts to readers. The proliferation of technical media in the latter half of the twentieth century has revealed that the relationship between writer and reader is not so simple. From telegraphs and typewriters to wire recorders and a sweeping array of digital computing devices, the complexities of communications technology have made mediality a central concern of the twenty-first century.

Despite the attention given to the development of the media landscape, relatively little is being done in our academic institutions to adjust. In Comparative Textual Media, editors N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman bring together an impressive range of essays from leading scholars to address the issue, among them Matthew Kirschenbaum on archiving in the digital era, Patricia Crain on the connection between a child’s formation of self and the possession of a book, and Mark Marino exploring how to read a digital text not for content but for traces of its underlying code.

Primarily arguing for seeing print as a medium along with the scroll, electronic literature, and computer games, this volume examines the potential transformations if academic departments embraced a media framework. Ultimately, Comparative Textual Media offers new insights that allow us to understand more deeply the implications of the choices we, and our institutions, are making.

Contributors: Stephanie Boluk, Vassar College; Jessica Brantley, Yale U; Patricia Crain, NYU; Adriana de Souza e Silva, North Carolina State U; Johanna Drucker, UCLA; Thomas Fulton, Rutgers U; Lisa Gitelman, New York U; William A. Johnson, Duke U; Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, U of Maryland; Patrick LeMieux; Mark C. Marino, U of Southern California; Rita Raley, U of California, Santa Barbara; John David Zuern, U of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

N. Katherine Hayles is professor of literature at Duke University. She is author of several books, including How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics and Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary.


Introduction. Making, Critique: A Media FrameworkN. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman

Part I. Theories1. TXTual PracticeRita Raley2. Mobile Narratives: Reading and Writing Urban Space with Location-Based Technologies Adriana de Souza e Silva3. The .txtual Condition Matthew G. Kirschenbaum4. From A to Screen Johanna Drucker

Part II. Practices5. Bookrolls as Media William A. Johnson6. Dwarven Epitaphs: Procedural Histories in Dwarf Fortress Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux7. Reading Childishly?: A Codicology of the Modern SelfPatricia Crain8. Print Culture (Other than Codex): Job Printing and Its Importance Lisa Gitelman

Part III. Recursions9. Medieval Remediations Jessica Brantley10. Gilded Monuments: Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Donne’s Letters, and the Mediated Text Thomas Fulton11. Reading Screens: Comparative Perspectives on Computational Poetics John David Zuern12. Reading exquisite_code: Critical Code Studies of Literature Mark C. Marino