Lightning Talk Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

The postdigital paradigm in literary studies (36)

Stephen Abblitt

The term postdigital has in recent years been applied across a broad range of disciplines, including literary studies, to describe an era in which digital media and technologies have become the dominant, if not hegemonic, aesthetic, social, epistemological and ontological paradigm. However, the full effects on literary studies of the new modes of literary production and consumption, the nascent reading practices and literary interfaces, and the inscrutable knowledge infrastructures, which have emerged in this postdigital era, remain unexamined.

This paper articulates a possible framework for understanding the literary object in this postdigital era, and in the twenty-first century classroom. It extends scholarship in critical posthumanism, actor-network theory, new media theory and the digital humanities into the field of literary studies, to describe how the human reader is entangled in complex, mutable networks of socio-material and technical relations which foreground the reading experience. It then unpacks the current print-based assumptions of literary studies, considering how the discipline might broaden and deepen its own theoretical, methodological and pedagogical approaches to the postdigital literary object and its interpretation. Finally, turning toward a critique of to the traditional signature pedagogy of literary studies, close reading, it speculates on the impact of these developments on the present and future of postdigital literary pedagogy.