Ravenstein Seminar 2014: Materiality of Literature

Simon Morris invited to guest lecture at Ravenstein Seminar 2014: Materiality of Literature, in Amsterdam organized by Utrecht University  and OSL on the invitation of Professor Kiene Brillenburg Wurth, 5-7 February 2014.

‘If the book no longer exists as a carrier of information, it may exist to distribute something else.’ Irma Boom (bookdesigner/artist)

With the digitization of society, the form and function of the book as the central carrier of cultural information is changing rapidly. Nowadays literature and the literary experience have to compete with other media experiences and forms of cultural transmission, such as social media. How do new forms of media influence the structure of our perception? And in relation to literature, how are processes of reading and writing affected by these medial changes? These questions draw our attention to the materiality of literature: the differences (and similarities) between the works of print culture and electronic culture, between the experience of the physical book and the digital artwork and the different ways in which the book can be perceived as a concrete and tangible carrier of information.

The theme ‘Materiality of Literature’ wishes to place literature within a broader media field and emerging debates on the materiality of culture by focussing on this central question: how can and should literature and its effects be studied in a changing media landscape? With this theme Ravenstein 2014 wishes to address fundamental questionsabout media history, media specificity and the current form and function of literature.


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