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A Migration Between Media

Frequently in True North, Strickland makes reference – and hypertext may be, even in poetry, primarily a medium and method of annotation – to Muriel Rukeyser’s 1942 biography of Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903). From this source comes the narration of an incident, of a sort to help posterity recognize a man “of whom,” says Rukeyser, “so few stories have been told” (224): Gibbs spoke only once in a Faculty Meeting, during protracted, tiring debate on elective courses: should there be – more English, more Classics? More? Or less. They were astonished to see him rise, after thirty-two years, though familiar […]

Architecture as a Narrative Medium

Dorothy wants to leave Oz, the land of spectacle, so she chants “There’s no place like home,” three times to awake in familiar grey Kansas. That’s a far cry from Vienna and Paris, but in Beatriz Colomina’s Privacy and Publicity, these European cities provide the backdrop for a discussion of home. Focusing primarily on the houses and interiors designed by Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier, Colomina argues that architecture, far from being immune to the influence of mass culture as traditional architectural thinking has it, was influenced by mass media such as advertising and photography. As Colomina writes: The building […]


There are blow jobs and then there are blow jobs. The volumes at hand deal with both figurative and literal examples of the genre. And they manage to range over, as well as map, the landscape of what is loosely called print journalism in book form. They reveal not just hidden agendas, but the transformation journalism has undergone at the end of the twentieth century. One might first note the obvious: they are all written by men. There are books written by women inspired by Bill Clinton’s life and loves (Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning), but these are, in the […]

The Medial Turn

Following such foundational studies as Robert Nadeau’s Readings from the New Book on Nature (1981), N. Katherine Hayles’s The Cosmic Web (1984), David Porush’s The Soft Machine (1985), and Tom LeClair’s The Art of Excess (1989), Strehle and Johnston continue to work with a remarkably stable canon whose authors have “turned to modern science and technology for alternative concepts of narrative necessity and thematic organization” (Johnston 64). In the distributed network of alternatives that these mainstream studies have created, Pynchon occupies the shifting center, Barth and Coover persist in the academic margins, Gaddis and McElroy stand in perennial need of […]

Media, Genealogy, History

Remediation is an important book. Its co-authors, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, seem self-conscious of this from the outset. The book’s subtitle, for example, suggests their intent to contend for the mantle of Marshall McLuhan, who all but invented media studies with Understanding Media (1964), published twenty years prior to the mass-market release of the Apple Macintosh and thirty years prior to the popular advent of the World Wide Web. There has also, I think, been advance anticipation for Remediation among the still relatively small coterie of scholars engaged in serious cultural studies of computing and information technology. Bolter […]

Harry Mathews’s Al Gore Rhythms: A Re-viewing of Tlooth, Cigarettes, and The Journalist

Reviewing Harry Mathews is an onerous task, for the review is a taxonomical genre, and Mathews defies classification. Perhaps it is best not to assess his writing but to process it. One could leaf through it using one of his own devices, such as “Mathews’s Algorithm” – a literary machine he invented which recombines given elements according to a simple, elegant procedure. Indeed, Mathews’s texts – which include Oulipian exercises, poetry, translations, reviews, short fictions, memoir, and novels – read as if generated by an algorithm with a few bugs still in it. Mathews has characterized his singular prose style […]
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Alire: A Relentless Literary Investigation

1999 will mark the 10th anniversary of the web-based literary journal Alire. The journal – created in January 1989 by the Parisian group L.A.I.R.E. (Lecture, Art, Innovation, Recherche, Écriture), which included Philippe Bootz, Frédéric Develay, Jean-Marie Dutey, Claude Maillard, and Tibor Papp – is known as the oldest multimedia journal in Europe, and certainly one of the oldest in the West. Before the arrival of CD-ROMs, before the Internet explosion, the journal was already publishing poetry written for and intended to be read through computers. The tenth anniversary will be an occasion to return to several of the pathways located […]

Poetry in the Electronic Environment

Stephanie Strickland on the translation of poetry from print to screen. Talk given at Hamline University, St. Paul, MN, April 10, 1997 I want to start by evoking some of the many times that poetry is not a “book” of poetry: for instance, Prospero’s Books, a film, itself a version of Shakespeare’s theater poem, “The Tempest”; poetry videos, poetry spots on the radio; and many kinds of live performance, from slams to sonic poetry. We have also, today, for the first time, hypertext. Poems, and collections of poems, can be composed as, or into, hypertext, using the many specific capabilities […]

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Voice, Vision, and the Prosthetic Subject in Dancer in the Dark

Sound is not voice. The desire for it to be so, however, seems to lie at the heart of much compelling art, music, and film. How we feel about this desire – that to be human at all is to thoroughly take that desire for granted or, conversely, that to live in post-Enlightenment (much less postmodern) culture is to see that desire as romantic in the worst possible sense – is a question visited upon audiences with the most uncanny and disconcerting force in Lars von Trier’s film Dancer in the Dark. When the film was first released in May […]
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Un Policier sur la Police: The Gritty Reality Behind the Fonts You Read

on the ghost in the machine: the font as spiritual medium in CD-ROM poetry design “No one up here pays attention to reviews. We don’t care about reviews. Frankly reviews are mostly for people who still read. Like most of the written word, it is going the way of the dinosaurs. Most people get their information from the cinema and electronic media. I don’t know any actors or people in show business who have any serious interest in what is written about our world.” – Bruce Willis Up to now, setting type on a computer has followed a logic of […]
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