Digitizing the Past: Historical Narrative and Media Technology

full name / name of organization: 
Kurt Cavender, Brandeis University
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The question of how novels understand their place in an increasingly diverse media ecology has been widely debated in comparative media studies, with scholars such as Daniel Punday and Katherine Hayles arguing that traditional written narrative forms are forced to re-imagine their strengths in the face of increasingly digitized, non-linear forms. However, these critical perspectives have only begun to address the way that this new media ecology shapes narratives of memory, trauma, and event. This panel seeks to theorize the way historiographic fictions are adapting to new and hybrid media forms of historical memory. How are digital technologies affecting the way we narrate historical events? What alternatives to linear narration are made possible by new media, and how might these alternatives help to shape narratives of memory, trauma, and the event? How have established forms such as the novel, and even twentieth-century forms such as film and television, begun to re-imagine their own role in a new media ecology? For this panel both theoretical arguments and readings of specific works are welcome. Topics might include, but are certainly not limited to, the novel's use of or reliance on filmic archival material for historical knowledge; reading film or video game representations of the past; theoretical problems of post-digital historiography or philosophy of history; digital humanities and historicism; new political or ethical projects made possible by media technologies that liberate the past from the constraints of narrative history; and the role of popular news media in constructing public historical knowledge.

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