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Article

Hannah McGregor

Podcasts are a new kind of digital text that demands new analytical approaches rooted in an understanding of the medium’s history, affordances, and politics. Emerging at the intersection of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and digital audio technology, podcasts were originally framed as an accessible medium for amateur creators, an audio version of the blog. Although the early technological challenges of both making and downloading podcasts biased the medium toward the same demographic as tech culture (white men), the constant expansion of affordable recording technology and the lack of industry restrictions have led to podcasting’s rapid growth, with Apple announcing that it had reached 2 million podcasts in 2021. While only a small percentage of those podcasts are capable of drawing large-scale audiences, producers have found success catering to microcommunities through highly niche content. The ability to engage communities is enhanced by some of the defining characteristics of podcast aesthetics, namely their parasocial intimacy—that is, the tendency for listeners to think of their favorite podcast hosts as “friends in their ears.” Compared with radio, podcasts are less likely to adhere to professional production standards, and podcasters tend to be less formal and more “chatty” than radio hosts are. While podcasting has amateur and DIY roots, however, the success of true crime podcast Serial has contributed to the formalization of the industry around podcasting networks and a shared set of entrepreneurial practices, largely focused on attracting advertisers or otherwise monetizing shows. Although the most financially successful shows are still disproportionately produced in the United States and hosted by white men, the medium has also continued to diversify. The creation of podcasts that speak directly with and from the perspective of communities drives listenership within those communities, which in turn drives further podcast creation; this pattern can be observed in the expansion of African American podcast production between 2010 and 2020, and similar patterns are evident in Indigenous podcasting, queer and trans podcasting, and both international and non-English-language podcasting. The tendency for podcast listeners to become podcast producers can also be seen in the emergence of new podcasting genres. Serial, for example, has inspired a new genre of audio crime fiction, while WTF with Marc Maron has led to a slew of comedian-hosted interview podcasts characterized by an intimate, confessional tone. The huge range of podcast genres, alongside the broad spectrum of production quality, means that podcasts remain a multifaceted medium—and the scholarship about them is similarly multifaceted. Media studies scholars are interested in questions of what defines podcasting and whether a move away from RSS technology to platform-exclusive shows is signaling the end of the medium’s golden age, whereas those looking at podcast genres are more interested in exploring how podcasting has generated a space for new forms of sound-based storytelling. While the most robust field of podcast scholarship focuses on the use of podcasts for pedagogy, scholars have also begun to theorize podcasting through the act of producing podcasts themselves. The incorporation of podcasting into the landscape of scholarly communication points to how the study of podcasting has the potential to transform not just what scholars study but also how scholars do their work.

Article

The Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1861–1865 (also known as “The Cotton Panic” or simply “The Distress”) was largely caused by the Union blockade of Confederate goods, including cotton, during the American Civil War. The economy of the highly industrialized English county of Lancashire was heavily dependent on cotton. The poetry associated with this crisis represents a demographically diverse documentation of emotional response, commentary, and reportage. Almost four hundred poems have been collated and analyzed on the database developed at the University of Exeter, but it is known that there are hundreds more still to be added to this collection, which have yet to be processed or even discovered. The bulk of the poems were recovered from local Lancashire newspapers and other UK publications, but there is also verse published in Australia, France, Ireland, and dozens from publications representing both sides of the American Civil War itself. Almost all of the poetry first saw the light of day in newspapers, and in Lancashire these publications were local to each of the mill towns affected by the crisis. Towns such as Bolton, Rochdale, Blackburn, Preston, and Burnley had grown exponentially in the decades up to the Famine, and their populations, in many cases newly literate, were served by discrete periodicals performing important municipal services as conveyors of news, opinion, entertainment, and advertising. In addition, almost all British newspapers in the 1860s featured a weekly poetry or literature column, and though they sometimes included verse from classic living or historical authors, they often encouraged readers to submit poetry for publication. Cotton Famine poetry provides a window into the feelings and opinions of ordinary people in reaction to one of the most concentrated periods of industrial economic distress in the latter half of the 19th century.

Article

Diana Paola Guzman and Paula Andrea Marín Colorado

Milestones in the history of publishing in Colombia stretch from a little before the arrival of the printing press in the country to the 21st century with the emergence of dozens of independent publishers. Thus, important events in the history of books, publishing, and reading in Colombia in the 19th century intersect with the influence of numerous civil wars and confrontations between liberals and conservatives. In the 20th century, the figure of the modern editor emerges along with campaigns for the mass production of books. In the 21st century, editorial projects seek to resist against the phenomena of editorial concentration.

Article

Toby Malone and Brett Greatley-Hirsch

Digital publishing, from early ventures in fixed media (diskette and CD-ROM) through to editions designed for the Web, tablets, and phones, radically transforms the creation, remediation, and dissemination of Shakespearean texts. Likewise, digital technologies reshape the performance of William Shakespeare’s plays through the introduction of new modes of capture and delivery, as well as the adaptation of social media, virtual reality, video gaming, and motion capture in stage and screen productions. With the aid of the computer, Shakespearean texts, places, and spaces can be “modeled” in new and sophisticated ways, including algorithmic approaches to questions of Shakespearean authorship and chronology, the virtual 3D reconstruction of now-lost playhouses, and historical geospatial mapping of Shakespeare’s London.

Article

Periodicals have been a significant part of Chile’s cultural history. Groups and networks of writers, intellectuals, and artists have orbited around literary and cultural periodicals with the aim of disseminating cultural and aesthetic projects. The study of periodicals addresses dialogues that have moved from the specificities of their disciplinary practice to political and social contexts. Reconstructing the trajectory of periodicals allows for the articulation of a dialogue with the voices that congregate in them to propose, question, and harbor specific currents capable of intervening in the configuration of the disciplines, the theoretical and cultural guidelines that determine an era. Dialogues that at certain junctures can transcend this resonance and expand considerably. The history of Chile as read through cultural and literary periodicals reveals the concerns that the cultural and artistic debate promoted during two distinct periods: during the Unidad Popular project, led by the government of Salvador Allende (1970–1973), and its interruption with the coup d’état that initiated one of the bloodiest and most extensive dictatorships in Latin America (1973–1990). These concerns were articulated within a decisive collaboration of artists and writers during the Unidad Popular and altered under the persecution and rupture with the state during the dictatorship. In these two moments the journals opened debates and proposed and discussed ideas from a specific historical time, along with problematizing the exercise of their intellectual practice and reflecting on the disciplinary limits that sustain them. The analysis of the trajectory of periodicals in the cultural history of Chile recognizes the social, political, and cultural transformations of these two moments in the history of Chile.

Article

In the mid-19th century, the Arabic novel emerged as a genre in Ottoman Syria and khedival Egypt. While this emergence has often been narrated as a story of the rise of nation-states and the diffusion of the European novel, the genre’s history and ongoing topography cannot be recovered without indexing the importance of Arabic storytelling and Islamic empire, ethics, and aesthetics to its roots. As the Arabic periodicals of Beirut and the Nile Valley, and soon Tunis and Baghdad, serialized and debated the rise of the novel form from the 19th century onward, historical, romantic, and translated novels found an avid readership throughout the Arab world and its diaspora. Metaphors of the garden confronted the maritime span of European empire in the 19th-century rise of the novel form in Arabic, and the novel’s path would continue to oscillate between the local and the global. British, French, Spanish, and Italian empire and direct colonial rule left a lasting imprint on the landscape of the region, and so too the investment of Cold War powers in its pipelines, oil wells, and cultural battlefields. Whether embracing socialist realism or avant-garde experimentation, the Arabic novel serves as an ongoing register of the stories that can be told in cities, villages, and nations throughout the region—from the committed novels interrogating the years of anticolonial national struggles and Arab nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s, through the ongoing history of war, surveillance, exile, occupation, and resource extraction that dictates the subsequent terrain of narration. The Arabic novel bears, too, an indelible mark left by translators of Arabic tales—from 1001 Nights to Girls of Riyadh—on the stories the region’s novelists tell.

Article

The Stationers’ Company is one of Britain’s most important cultural institutions. Founded in 1403, it oversaw the regulation of the London’s book trades for several centuries. From the mid-16th century to the end of the 17th, the Company maintained a near-national monopoly over the technology and craft of printing; during that same period, almost every important English printer and publisher belonged to it, and the vast majority of books published in England were printed and sold by its members. It played a crucial role in the development and implementation of modern Anglo-American copyright law, establishing in the 1550s a ‘Register’ for the recording of publishing rights that was still being used in the early decades of the 20th century. Six centuries on, the Company continues to retain strong ties to the printing, publishing, and allied industries. The Company was — and remains — one of the dozens of livery companies that historically regulated London’s crafts and trades. Its national powers, granted to it by the crown in 1557, were exceptional but not unique, and effectively lapsed in 1695. It had oversight of training, labor, wages, and prices, and regularly arbitrated members’ disputes; it also provided vital welfare and social functions for its members and their families. During the early modern period, it was frequently cited in state decrees and legislation that sought to regulate the publication of printed material, but it was never the active censoring body that subsequent scholarship has often claimed. Despite weakening powers from the late 17th century, the Company flourished into the Victorian era, in large part due to its distinctive publishing venture, the English Stock, whose interests it fiercely defended. In 1937 it formally incorporated newspaper makers into its ranks, becoming the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers. The Company’s hall, which houses its archive, is located off Ludgate Hill in central London.

Article

Mark Byron

Close reading describes a set of procedures and methods that distinguishes the scholarly apprehension of textual material from the more prosaic reading practices of everyday life. Its origins and ancestry are rooted in the exegetical traditions of sacred texts (principally from the Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Islamic traditions) as well as the philological strategies applied to classical works such as the Homeric epics in the Greco-Roman tradition, or the Chinese 詩經 (Shijing) or Classic of Poetry. Cognate traditions of exegesis and commentary formed around Roman law and the canon law of the Christian Church, and they also find expression in the long tradition of Chinese historical commentaries and exegeses on the Five Classics and Four Books. As these practices developed in the West, they were adapted to medieval and early modern literary texts from which the early manifestations of modern secular literary analysis came into being in European and American universities. Close reading comprises the methodologies at the center of literary scholarship as it developed in the modern academy over the past one hundred years or so, and has come to define a central set of practices that dominated scholarly work in English departments until the turn to literary and critical theory in the late 1960s. This article provides an overview of these dominant forms of close reading in the modern Western academy. The focus rests upon close reading practices and their codification in English departments, although reference is made to non-Western reading practices and philological traditions, as well as to significant nonanglophone alternatives to the common understanding of literary close reading.

Article

Ken Hirschkop

The concept of “heteroglossia” was coined by Mikhail Bakhtin in an essay from the 1930s. Heteroglossia was the name he gave for the “inner stratification of a single national language into social dialects, group mannerisms, professional jargons, generic languages, the languages of generations and age-groups,” and so on, but it was not simply another term for the linguistic variation studied in sociolinguistics and dialectology. It differed in three respects. First, in heteroglossia differences of linguistic form coincided with differences in social significance and ideology: heteroglossia was stratification into “socio-ideological languages,” which were “specific points of view on the world, forms for its verbal interpretation.” Second, heteroglossia embodied the force of what Bakhtin called “historical becoming.” In embodying a point of view or “social horizon,” language acquired an orientation to the future, an unsettled historical intentionality, it otherwise lacked. Third, heteroglossia was a subaltern practice, concentrated in a number of cultural forms, all of which took a parodic, ironizing stance in relation to the official literary language that dominated them. Throughout his discussion, however, Bakhtin wavers between claiming this heteroglossia exists as such in the social world, from which the novel picks it up, and arguing that heteroglossia is something created and institutionalized by novels, which take the raw material of variation and rework it into “images of a language.” Interestingly, from roughly 2000 on work in sociolinguistics has suggested that ordinary speakers do the kind of stylizing and imaging work Bakhtin assigned to the novel alone. One could argue, however, that heteroglossia only acquires its full significance and force when it is freed from any social function and allowed to flourish in novels. According to Bakhtin, that means that heteroglossia is only possible in modernity, because it is in modernity that society becomes truly historical, and languages only acquire their orientation to the future in those circumstances.

Article

The history of Brazilian print culture is closely connected to the establishment of national literature in the 19th century. Indeed, after three centuries of prohibition of printing activity in the colony by the Portuguese Crown, Impresão Régia, the first legal printing establishment in Brazil, was created in 1808 due to the arrival of the Portuguese royal family during the Napoleonic wars. From the late implementation of Imprensa Régia, which became Typographia Nacional after the independence of Brazil in 1822, to the consolidation of the publishing world in the second half of the century, marked by the controversial French presence, the discourses on literature and print production modes tend to reflect the different circulation spheres. In fact, following the long period of colonization under Portuguese rule, print production modes were implemented simultaneously with the consolidation of a broad print culture, characterized by the growth of newspapers, the circulation of images, and the impactful arrival of the novel. Undeniably, the sudden and concurrent arrival of the two worlds—technical and cultural—in addition to the paradoxical development of the print world, marked by its two technical systems—artisanal and industrial—strongly influenced the material aspects of 19th-century Brazilian publishing production. In this context, under the argument of an alleged precariousness of local print production, writers, critics, typographers, engravers, and bookbinders created literary and editorial polemics in newspapers, magazines, and books that contributed to the very construction of a “literary system.” Despite the intrinsic relationships established between literature and publishing, the multidisciplinary field of the history of the book insists on separating approaches dedicated to the technical production processes and the material analysis of objects of written culture from the approaches dedicated to print circulation and uses. Understanding the contradictions imposed by the simultaneous implementation of two technical systems, which are found when analyzing the traces left by the print equipment supply trade and the conditions to build a printing workshop, contributes to understanding the historical conditions of print production. In this sense, the historiographical perspective dialogues with heritage studies in the notion of printing heritage, understood in its tangible and intangible dimensions, considering the machines and tools of the past, together with the techniques then in use. In fact, while bringing together a set of material, technical, and mechanical elements of different production modes, printing heritage also contains the memories of the human actions that set them in motion.