Digital Poetics and the Multimodal Novel (U of Amsterdam, June 16-18, 2006)

full name / name of organization: 
International Society for the Study of Narrative

Multimodal novels stipulate conceptual shifts in our understanding and experience of literature, according to Wolfgang Hallet. Though the genre label "multimodal novel" is a recent coinage, graphic resources such as experimental typography and layout, images and illustrations, which contribute to multimodal aesthetics, have appeared in novels for centuries. Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, and Edgar Allan Poe utilized the expressive properties of typeface and layout in their narratives. In the early twentieth century, practitioners of the historical avant-garde including Andre Breton and F.T. Marinetti also produced multimodal narratives. In most of these cases, the multimodality of the texts resulted from the author's interest in exploring the affordances and the constraints of writing and printing technologies. Since the 1980s (approx) personal computers and the popularity of digital platforms for reading and writing have offered unique opportunities for innovating narrative forms. As Alison Gibbons observes, "The rise of digital technologies in the late twentieth century has certainly impacted upon the publishing industry; print-based publishing the fact that images and word-image combinations can now be produced cheaply and more easily has resulted in an increase of multimodal works into the mainstream market." Scholars such as N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman have analyzed digital poetics, or the manner in which computers influence narrative forms. In this panel, we would like to examine how digital technologies and interfaces shape the narratives of contemporary multimodal novels available in codex form such as Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, Steve Tomasula's VAS: An Opera in Flatland, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, among many others.

We invite 150-200 word abstracts from graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty who might be interested in exploring narratological issues, perspectives, and challenges posed by "multimodal novels" in the context of contemporary electronic culture to join us as presenters on this panel to be proposed for the International Narrative Conference 2016 at University of Amsterdam (June 16-18, 2016). Here is a list of possible questions to be discussed:

--How do digital technologies affect the temporality or the spatiality of multimodal novels?
--In what ways do technological and economic considerations influence the reception of multimodal novels? What accounts for their increased popularity at present as opposed to the niche markets of the historical avant-garde?
--How do digital technologies affect the representation of bodies and minds in multimodal novels?
--To what extent do digital poetics and multimodal novels complement or complicate existing narratological approaches which often privilege the verbal over other modalities?
--At a time when digital technology makes alternate platforms of reading and writing available, in what ways do multimodal novels prompt us to think about authorial or readerly engagement with books in physical or corporeal terms, and how can we understand this physical interaction in relation to the text's narrative?
--To what extent are the narrative strategies of multimodal novels, produced within the contemporary media ecology, different from or similar to those employed in pre-digital narratives such as Tristram Shandy (1759) or Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife's (1968)?

Please submit abstracts to Corey Efron at efron[dot]2[at]osu[dot]edu or Torsa Ghosal at ghosal[dot]2[at]osu[dot]edu by January 7th, 2016.