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To Literature and Beyond: Medium and Media in Comparative Context

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Organizer: Michael O'Krent

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The discipline of Comparative Literature often seeks to give space to numerous, if not all, approaches to the study of literature. What can be gained by thinking through the ways in which comparatists widen the scope of their work to include media other than literature? The increasing contemporary relevance of digital media and new media creates opportunities for dialogue with the study of “older” cultural forms such as writing, painting, sculpture, and theatrical performance. This panel invites papers that test, question, and explore the methodological differences that characterize literary studies as a field of knowledge separate from other medium-oriented fields such as art history, film and visual studies, and media studies, as well as the similarities that invite engagement between the scholarly communities of multiple media.

Questions of interest may include (but are not limited to): How can medium be redefined or retheorized when literature is given a substantial role? What are the stakes of asserting that, for example, book studies is a form of media studies? What do art history and literary history have to offer each other? To what extent are media studies concepts such as Henry Jenkins’s “convergence culture” or Marsha Kinder’s concept of the “transmedia” in tension with the techniques of close reading and textual analysis? How might a literary discipline’s approach to culture, identity, and language change when multiple media are introduced? How can the comparative study of literature speak to the practices found in newer forms such as videogames, social media, and virtual (or “mixed”) reality? What does medium mean to Comparative Literature?

All papers that deal with the methodological implications of working in two or more media are welcome.


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