Print technology and the discovery of the new world have often played a major role in the construction of our visions of modernity by means of a mass-produced imagery set in motion by the increased circulation of goods, people, and ideas across transcontinental routes. Such characterization of “modernity,” however, too quickly risks erasing the pre-existent in ways that have become utterly familiar to the field of American studies: what is presented as new and innovative, has a history extending already from the conceptualization of the American continent itself as the “discovery” of a “new world.” As Edmundo O’Gorman’s notorious argument highlighted, the act of discovery would have to be recast as “a process of invention” (The Invention of America, 1961)
The advent of digital technology and networked instantaneous communication, globally hyper-linked databases, elusive “electronic elsewheres” of cloud computing and augmented realities, in conjunction with the acknowledgment that many of the top computer manufacturers (Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Apple) are located in America, seem to create the premises for a renewed “invention of America.” As the digital poet John Cayley remarks in “Screen Writing: A Practice-Based, Eurorelative Introduction to Electronic Literature and Poetics”, “the ‘new’ of new media, the ‘hyper’ and ‘cyber’, the ‘digital’ and ‘electronic’, all these prefixes and the characterization they encourage have the effect of removing history and locatedness” (605) in digital creative practices. As a consequence, the American environment too quickly risks appearing as a natural or neutral setting for electronic forms of expression.
Although digital humanists, new media scholars, and literary critics often examine electronic artefacts produced in America and characterized by diversity of topics, concerns, and approaches that can be reconnected with the multicultural diversity of the American continent, they seldom foreground the implications of their cultural characterization. Such tendency generates a need to identify the specific role American digital forms of representation are currently playing in articulating a post-national, post-racial, post-ethnic, post-gender literacy in the electronic apparatus by conflating it in the universalizing interpretation of the post-humanist paradigm increasingly associated with technological culture. Our scholarly project aims therefore at reflecting upon a set of interconnected questions about how an integral understanding of the non-neutral characterization of the digital can be carried out from a great diversity of perspectives that transcend American geographical, historical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries.
To what extent are current digital theories developed in the US driven by a supposedly neutral attention to the medium? To what extent do the range of digital forms of expressions and the methodologies employed in their analysis happen to exceed the alleged paradigm of “media-specific” analysis? And how might the formal and technological approaches to digital poiesis be ideally situated within a history of artistic practices related to (North) American culture?
We welcome paper proposals that explore cultural issues related to American digital and technological modernity from a fluid, heterogeneous, comparative, international perspective. In other words, contributions should deal both with the ways in which international perspectives can re-articulate the cultural logic of the digital and with the specific ways in which digital media studies and digital scholarship (tools, theories, practices) developed in the Americas can be regarded, re-thought, reconfigured, and even questioned from international perspectives.
We invite submission of abstracts (500-word length max) and one-paragraph bio by no later than February 20, 2014.
We expect final papers to be of 25-30 page length. Essays’ final versions should follow the RIAS Style Sheet.
Please send your abstract and one-paragraph bio to:firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact e-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors: Mauro Carassai and Leonardo Flores
Mauro Carassai is a PhD candidate at University of Florida. He holds a Masters of Arts in American Literature and Culture from University of Leeds (UK) and was a Fulbright visiting student at Brown University in 2007-2008. His research combines literary theory, Ordinary Language Philosophy, and digital literatures within the larger frame of American literatures and American studies. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Culture Machine, LEA Almanac (MIT Press), and Digital Humanities Quarterly. He was a 2010-11 HASTAC scholar.
Leonardo Flores is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez Campus and the Treasurer for the Electronic Literature Organization. He was the 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. His research areas are electronic literature, poetry, and preservation of first generation electronic objects. He is the lead writer, publisher, and editor of a scholarly blogging project titledI ♥ E-Poetry (http://iloveepoetry.com). For more information on his current work, visit http://leonardoflores.net.