CFP: [Computing-Internet] seminar at American Comp. Lit. meeting, Long Beach, April 2008

full name / name of organization: 
Nathan Faries
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Wars of the Worlds, or “It’s Lovely to Meet You, But You’re in My Seat.”

The advent of new technologies promises the arrival of new media, which
leads inevitably to new ways of telling stories. The new upstarts threaten
previous modes of narrative with inglorious retirement or at least
threaten a strain on the pocketbooks of those who earn their livelihood by
the old trade. In Plato’s Phaedrus, the god Teuth presents writing to King
Thamus and thereby sounds the death knell for oral culture; we are
teachers of literature rather than oratory because of that mythical
encounter and the real transformations in media that it represents. As our
textual culture reluctantly gives way to more visual media, to what extent
do these new arrivals push us as “people of the book” toward departure?
How far should we compromise with new media? What should we fight to
        My essay on the 1953 film The War of the Worlds will serve to
describe one painful shift within the visual media cultureâ€"from the
dominance of film to the rise of televisionâ€"that may serve as a model of
what has been happening to “traditional” literature over the past century.
Our discussion will broaden to address any or all such media wars
throughout history: revolutions in printing, in stagecraft, in gaming. We
will return constantly to the issues of literary pedagogy. What should we
teach? How should we teach it? If written text is not the origin or
necessary “norm” of literature, why should we resist the idea of a canon
open to all narrative media?

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Received on Tue Oct 23 2007 - 08:55:55 EDT