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Literature as Medium, Literature among Media: Shifting Paradigms of Research

Class at Faculty of Arts |


I. Introduction

II. What is a Medium? Genealogy, Theory, Definitions (Guillory, Benjamin, Elleström)

III. Cultural Techniques: Writing, Memory, Digital Text (Ong, Stiegler, Hayles)

IV. Literature as Medium: Intermediality, Immersivity, New Media (Wolf, Ryan, Zuern)


The aim of the course is to familiarize its participants with current thinking about mediality and media in the context of literary studies. Although the discourse of contemporary humanities is permeated by media theory, in literary studies the concept is relatively new and open to different interpretations.

During the seminar we will discuss texts by significant figures of media theory who directly address literature or work within a broader media framework with literature as part of an overall picture. Two questions will run through the whole course: the problem of the genesis and development of individual media, as well as the general concept of medium, and the possibility of replacement of the paradigm of arts by the paradigm of media.

First we will focus on the concept of media, its genealogy, theory, and definitions (John Guillory, Walter Benjamin, Lars Elleström). Then we will discuss mediality of texts within the framework of three consecutive cultures defined by writing, printing, and digital communication, with regard to the relationship of text, technics, thinking, and memory (Walter J.

Ong, Bernard Stiegler, Katherine N. Hayles).

Finally we will concentrate on distinctive aspects of mediality of literature: literary intermediality, immersivity vs. interactivity, and contemporary electronic literature (Werner Wolf, Marie-Laure Ryan, John David Zuern). The course will also include seminars dedicated to interpretations of literary texts in media framework (Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Sally Rooney).