The Slovenian Comparative Literature Association, the Slavic Society of Slovenia and the Faculty of Arts University of Ljubljana announce an international conference entitled “Mediality and Literature”, 24–25 November 2016 at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia).
The Conference Theme
Half a century has passed since the publication of Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Understanding Media (1964), and The Medium is the Massage (1967). Likely the most well-known media critic and theoretician, McLuhan’s books prompt reconsideration of how different media (from handwritten and print to contemporary digital media) influence the way we think, the content and form of (mass) media messages, the various aspects of production, distribution, and consumption of messages. It may be time for contemporary, empirical and media-oriented Slovenian literary studies to take a (re)fresh(ed) look at literary-media relations, at mediality in literature. Thirty years ago, in the mid-1980s, the German literary and media theoretician Friedrich Kittler published Aufschreibesysteme (1985) and Gramophone Film Typewriter (1986), once again causing reassessment of how media technologies had impacted cultural techniques and practices (such as writing, reading), the way in which we think about ourselves and we interact, taking digital media into consideration. A significant amount of time and conceptual differences separate McLuhan and Kittler, and some of their views can be faulted as reductionist, yet their thinking remains provocative and relevant in the digital age, as reprints of some of their books since the mid-1990s attest.
The question of how media technologies and culture, including literature, relate stimulate many possible considerations. Of interest is how the current network of media and cultural techniques changed—and in the digital age continues to change—ways of writing, archiving, distributing, consuming, and processing media messages/literary texts, as well as what “writing-down-systems” (Ger. Aufschreibesysteme) literature employs. Further, the conference will explore the nature of relations between cultural techniques of writing, distributing, and consuming literature. Included are all phases of media and cultural development, meaning various media and literary forms: from oral and written communication to various kinds of electronically and digitally supported writing-down-systems.
As regards media technologies and cultural techniques, various literary forms are of interest, including different media forms and fictional genres. In the field of print media, these are by no means only books, but also newspapers, calendars, flyers, manuscripts, and so forth. Among new media, we have in mind primarily analysis of radio and television, with emphasis on such fictional genres as radio plays, television dramas, and serials, which, at least in Slovenian literary studies, have received inadequate attention, while clearly having broader resonance. (Note but a recent issue of the journal SPIEL, one of the main scholarly forums in empirical literary studies, devoted to the medium of radio.)
Given that mediality of literature depends upon available media technologies and cultural techniques, of equal interest is how literature has historically relied on various media in terms of expression, content, form, and representation (e.g., oral, written, audio, and visual qualities). A further topic of interest is literature and its mediality as a hybrid system in the Internet age, and how different media and various forms of mediality blend and connect.
Finally but not least importantly are the effects of the medial character of literature on reading, including all modes of reception of literary texts (e.g., neurological analysis of effects). This topic, focused on literature’s technological models in the media, calls for analyses based in the humanities and social science, as well as in the natural sciences and technology.
Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. A computer with a LCD projector will be available in the conference hall. Besides Slovene, the official languages of the conference are English, German and other languages; translations into Slovene are guaranteed. The number of presenters is limited. Please submit the title and abstract of the paper (up to 250 words), along with your affiliation, office address and CV (up to 100 words) by March 30. After the paper selection, authors will be informed of the decision by e-mail. After a review procedure, selected papers will be published.
Dr. Urška Perenič, chair of the conference