New Visualities: Hybrid Media in Post-National Digital Spaces (Toronto, Canada, April 30-3, 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

This panel seeks papers that examine how hybrid, multimodal, and new media forms influence visual culture in a time when the popular mode of creation, distribution, and consumption is gradually shifting from print to digital displays.

In addition to the upheaval caused to traditional media by the current transition from print to digital technologies, the simultaneous emergence of hybrid and new media forms necessitates closer analysis, especially as it regards representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and disability across media platforms and in new forms appropriating tropes from other print or screen-based media.

Moreover, visual idioms must now inevitably be seen as occupying a post-national digital space where images circulate widely beyond borders and far from their original contexts. Such recent examples as Occupy Wall Street's use of visuals to communicate a social and political agenda, Anonymous' use of the Guy Fawkes mask to both obscure identity and create a sense of community, the Arab Spring's use of social media to organize protests, and the 2009 Iranian election protests' international reach all testify to the continued power of images to move, mobilize, and affect change when distributed through digital and new media platforms.

But do traditional media boundaries still matter in an online world visually dominated by news feeds, infographics, webcomics, listicles with embedded video, and endlessly remixed image-and-text memes, all of which become part of the same never-ending flow of information easily shared across social networks and national boundaries? And if not, how do we make semiotic sense of the online and digital worlds? How do new and emergent digital media forms and technologies change the underlying structures as a result of their digital mediation? And what is the impact of digital mediation on the acts of reading, seeing, and experiencing?