defining “new media”

I’m reading Wyoscki et al’s Writing New Media, and Anne Wysocki offers a definition of “new media texts” that I find quite interesting:

I think we should call “new media texts” those that have been made by composers who are aware of the range of materialities of texts and who then highlight the materiality: such composers design texts that help readers/consumers/viewers stay alert to how any text—like its composers and readers—doesn’t function independently of how it is made and in what contexts. Such composers design texts that make as overtly visible as possible the values they embody. Considering new media texts in this way, I think and hope, helps us to see where openings for agency are within the new media texts we compose.

Under this definition, new media texts do not have to be digital; instead, any text that has been designed so that its materiality is not effaced can count as new media. (15)

Wysocki, Anne Frances, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Cynthia L. Selfe, and Geoffrey Sirc. Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2004.

This entry was posted in English 584 Postcritical Perspectives in Literacy Studies (Spring 2009), New Media. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to defining “new media”

  1. Ris says:

    It’s a very good point: hypermedia, new media, playful surfing of texts, whatever is not limited to digital documents. Jerome Mcgann’s Radiant Textuality does a good job expanding on this point, especially in relation to showing us how all poetry meets the definition of new media. Highly recommended text.

  2. chris_v says:

    Which media theorists do you feel are most important to your work right now? or, which ones do you find the most interesting?

    I’ve been warming up to the idea of trying to write media theory again, so I’m interested in trading resources.

    Also, does anyone still cite Marshall McLuhan these days?

  3. Michael says:

    Right now, off the top of my head, Donna Haraway, McLuhan, Jeff Rice, Johnson-Eilola, and Anne Wysocki are probably biggest on my minds. But of course, the last three deal mostly with composition.

    I don’t think the question is: does anyone still cite McLuhan? I think that few cited McLuhan for years, and that for a while he started to be cited again (at least in English studies). I’d say he’s referenced, nowadays, but not discussed much in depth.

  4. Travis says:

    Michael, did I tell you my thesis is now on Wysocki’s work in new media? I love this chapter that the definition is found in, and I’m actually sifting through it right now for Lisa’s class. Wysocki’s five openings are what I’m shaping my seminar paper around.

    A quick note about McLuhan: what I’ve seen is that he’s mostly used as an example of technological determinism, although I’m not sure that’s entirely fair to his work; doesn’t seem to me that he’s still studied in great depth, like you mentioned.

  5. Michael says:

    Travis, Way cool topic change! That’s exciting and interesting! Have you contacted Anne at all? If not, you should. She’d be amenable to any questions, I’m sure.

  6. Travis says:

    I haven’t yet, but I do plan to. I feel like that’s some kind of strange line I’m not ready to cross until I’m familiar up to my eyes with her work and the work of people she’s close to (like Johnson-Eilola). Silly probably, but I’m looking forward to it. She has spent considerable amount of time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, too, which is strange but cool.

    And I may have mentioned this, but I accepted Vicki’s offer of a third year with the WIC program, and I have the okay from all parties involved, which is also very cool. Should give me some time to really build a thesis I’m happy with and maybe present some papers.

  7. chris_v says:

    Cool stuff — I’m not familiar with the comp theorists, but I’m curious about which media theorists influence their work.

    Lately I’ve been trying to figure out if McLuhan could be considered a genealogist (of media) in the sense of Nietzsche and Foucault’s genealogy (or Deleuze’s geology). I agree that McLuhan (like Marx) is so much more than a technological determinist.

    I’ve found that Deleuze and Guattari (although not necessarily in collaboration) have some interesting things to say about media — Deleuze in his Cinema books, and Guattari’s concept of post-media sprinkled throughout his works.

    Contemporary media theorists whom I like include Matteo Pasquinelli, Franco Berardi aka Bifo, Geert Lovink, McKenzie Wark, Steven Shaviro, Jonathan Beller, and Rob Horning. I’m not sure if you’ll find any of them helpful, but Rob Horning’s blog often touches on the intersection of consumerist culture, social networks, and the production of texts. And Matteo Pasquinelli’s essays do an excellent job of calling out the theoretical weaknesses of the emerging free/commons culture.

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