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15 AUGUST 2013

Print is Flat, Code is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis

"Many critics see the electronic age as heralding the end of books. I think this view is mistaken. Books are far too robust, reliable, long–lived, and versatile to be rendered obsolete by digital media. Rather, digital media have given us an opportunity we have not had for the last several hundred years: the chance to see print with new eyes and, with that chance, the possibility of understanding how deeply literary theory and criticism have been imbued with assumptions specific to print. As we continue to work toward critical practices and theories appropriate for electronic literature, we may come to renewed appreciation for the specificity of print. In the tangled web of medial ecology, change anywhere in the system stimulates change everywhere in the system. Books are not going the way of the dinosaur but the way of the human, changing as we change, mutating and evolving in ways that will continue, as a book lover said long ago, to teach and delight."

(Katherine Hayles, 2004)

Katherine Hayles (2004). "Print is Flat, Code is Deep: The Importance of Media–Specific Analysis" Poetics Today, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 2004, pp. 67–90.



2004analogue and digital • analogue resemblance • bookscodecritical enquirycritical practices • cyborg reading practices • digital coding • digital media • distributed cognitive environments • electronic age • electronic hypertext • electronic literature • embodied entities • emergent property • end of booksend of printevolving form • instantiation • interpretation of signsKatherine Haylesliterary criticismliterary theorymaterialitymedia ecologiesmedia specificity • media-specific analysis • medial ecology • medium specificitymutabilitynatural languageobsolete medium • physical characteristics • physical specificity • recombination • renewed appreciation • signification • signifying strategies • somnolence • spaces to navigate • specificity of printtextstransformable • versatile medium • women in cultural theory


Simon Perkins
08 OCTOBER 2012

LUDOLOGY MEETS NARRATOLOGY: Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative

"Literary theory and narratology have been helpful to understand cybertexts and videogames. Aristotelian Poetics [Laurel, 1993], Russian formalism [Porush and Hivner, ?], and poststructuralism [Landow, 1992] are some of the different perspectives that have been used to study the subject.

Some authors see cybertexts and videogames as a new form of or as an expansion of traditional narrative or drama. The fact is that these computer programs share many elements with stories: characters, chained actions, endings, settings.

However, there is another dimension that has been usually almost ignored when studying this kind of computer software: to analyze them as games.

The problems of using a 'game' perspective are many. Basically, traditional games have always had less academic status than other objects, like narrative. And because of this, game formalist studies are fragmented through different disciplines, and not very well developed.

In this paper we will propose to explore videogames and cybertexts as games. Our intention is not to replace the narratologic approach, but to complement it. We want to better understand what is the relationship with narrative and videogames; their similarities and differences."

(Gonzalo Frasca, 1999)

Frasca, Gonzalo (1999) 'Ludology Meets Narratology. Similitude and Differences between (Video)games and Narrative'. Originally published in Finnish in Parnasso 1999: 3, 365–71.


1999 • Albert Sidney Hornby • Andre Lalande • Aristotelian Poetics • Aristotles Poetics • Brenda Laurelcausalitycausally relatedcausally related narrative events • chained actions • character • Claude Bremond • computer programme • computer software • cybertext • cybertexts • Daniel Vidart • David Porush • ending • Espen AarsethFILE (festival) • game formalist studies • game perspective • game studiesgame theorygames • George Landow • Gerald Prince • Gonzalo Frasca • Jean Piagetliterary theory • ludology • narrative and videogames • narratologic approach • narratologynew form • Oswald Ducrot • post-structuralism • Roger Caillois • Roland Barthes • Russian formalism • Schaeffer Jean-Marie • setting • similarities and differences • stories • studying games • Todd Hivnor • traditional drama • traditional narrative • Umberto Ecovideo gamevideogames


Simon Perkins
15 JUNE 2012

Audience Research: Reception Analysis

"Despite the (implicit) nominal link to the work on what is also called 'Reception Theory', within the field of literary studies, carried out by Wolfgang Iser, Hans Jauss and other literary scholars (particular in Germany), the body of recent work on media audiences commonly referred to by this name, has on the whole, a different origin, although there are some theoretical links (cf., the work of Stanley Fish) than the work in literary theory. In practice, the term 'reception analysis', has come to be widely used as a way of characterising the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, this work has adopted a 'culturalist' perspective, has tended to use qualitative (and often ethnographic) methods of research and has tended to be concerned, one way or another, with exploring the active choices, uses and interpretations made of media materials, by their consumers.

As indicated in the previous discussion of 'The Media Audience', the single most important point of origin for this work, lies with the development of cultural studies in the writings of Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, England, in the early 1970s and, in particular, Hall's widely influential 'encoding/decoding' model of communications (see the discussion of 'The Media Audience' for an explanation of this model). Hall's model provided the inspiration, and much of the conceptual framework for a number of C.C.C.S' explorations of the process of media consumption, notably David Morley's widely cited study of the cultural patterning of differential interpretations of media messages among The 'Nationwide' Audience and Dorothy Hobson's work on women viewers of the soap opera Crossroads. These works were the forerunners of a blossoming of cultural studies work focusing on the media audience, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including, among the most influential, from a feminist point of view, the work of Tania Modleski and Janice Radway on women consumers of soap opera and romance, and the work of Ien Ang, Tamar Liebes and Elihu Katz, Kim Schroder and Jostein Gripsrud on international cross cultural consumption of American drama series, such as Dallas and Dynasty.

Much of this work has been effectively summarised and popularised, especially, in the United States by John Fiske, who has drawn on the theoretical work of Michel de Certeau to develop a particular emphasis on the 'active audience', operating within what he terms the 'semiotic democracy' of postmodern pluralistic culture. Fiske's work has subsequently been the object of some critique, in which a number of authors, among them Budd, Condit, Evans, Gripsrud, and Seamann have argued that the emphasis on the openness (or 'polysemy') of the message and on the activity (and the implied 'empowerment') of the audience, within reception analysis, has been taken too far, to the extent that the original issue––of the extent of media power––has been lost sight of, as if the 'text' had been theoretically 'dissolved' into the audience's (supposedly) multiple 'readings' of (and 'resistances' to) it.

In the late 1980s, there were a number of calls to scholars to recognise a possible 'convergence' of previously disparate approaches under the general banner of 'reception analysis' (cf. in particular, Jensen and Rosengren), while Blumler et al. have claimed that the work of a scholar such as Radway is little more than a 're–invention' of the 'uses and gratifications' tradition––a claim hotly contested by Schroder. More recently, both Curran and Corner have offered substantial critiques of 'reception analysis'––the former accusing many reception analysts of ignorance of the earlier traditions of media audience research, and the latter accusing them of retreating away from important issues of macro–politics and power into inconsequential micro–ethnographies of domestic television consumption. For a reply to these criticisms, see Morley, 1992."

(David Morley, The Museum of Broadcast Communications)



1970s1980s1990sactive audience • active choices • activity • American drama series • Anna-Maria Seemann • audienceaudience research • Billy Budd • Celeste Condit • Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studiescommunication theorycommunications and cultural studiesconsumersconsumption • Crossroads (television series) • cultural patterning • cultural studies • culturalist perspective • Dallas (television series) • David Morley • differential interpretations • domestic television consumption • Dorothy Hobson • Dynasty (television series) • Elihu Katz • Elizabeth Evans • empowerment • encoding/decoding • ethnographic researchfeminist perspective • Hans Jauss • Ien Ang • international cross cultural consumption • interpretation • James Curran • Janice Radway • Jay Blumler • John Corner • John Fiske • Jostein Gripsrud • Karl Erik Rosengren • Kim Schroder • Klaus Jensen • literary scholarship • literary studiesliterary theory • macro-politics and power • MBC • media • media as text • media audience • media audience research • media audiencesmedia consumption • media messages • media power • media studiesmedia textmessageMichel de Certeau • micro-ethnographies • micro-ethnographies of domestic television consumption • model of communication • multiple readings • Museum of Broadcast Communicationsopennesspolysemy • postmodern pluralistic culture • powerqualitative research methods • reader-response criticism • reader-response theory • reception analysis • reception analysts • reception theory • romance • semiotic democracy • soap opera • Stanley Fish • Stuart Hall • Tamar Liebes • Tania Modleski • television • television consumption • textUnited StatesUniversity of Birmingham • uses and gratifications • Wolfgang Iser • women consumers • women viewers


Simon Perkins

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