Blog Post

The Walking Dead Media: Technologies of Transmediality

January can be the cruelest month. It's often hard to come back to life after the December holidays, especially when it is dark and cold in the mornings and the world is still reticent to accept it is time to get our act together once more.

I am in Bristol, one of my favourite UK cities and one of the friendliest places I've been to. It is an incredibly vibrant place where inspiration is found in every corner, so I am very excited I will participate in a symposium organised by the Worldwide Universities Network, titled "Technologies of Transmediality." 

The symposium will take place at the Wickham Theatre of the University of Bristol. It starts this afternoon and finishes on Saturday evening. The event will feature keynote addresses by:

 

  • Prof Mike van den Heuvel (Wisconsin), The Performance of Science.
  • Prof Jeff Smith (Wisconsin), Popular Music, Intermediality and the Screen.
  • Prof Sarah Street (Bristol), Technicolor and Transmediality.
  • Prof Phillip Thurtle (Washington), Theories of Intermediality.

 

 

According to the programme, there will also be "a performance by the company Bodies in Flight which incorporates different media in its contemporary live performances, introduced by Prof Simon Jones (Bristol), and a screening of extracts from films and television programmes which involve the import/impact of popular music as transmedial experience, compiled and introduced by Dr Kevin Donnelly (Southampton)."

On Saturday my presentation will focus on the idea of zombie culture as a paradigmatic example of transmediality, concentrating on a reading of The Walking Dead, the ongoing American monthly comic book series created by writer Robert Kirkman in 2003, in comparison with its TV series adaptation, also called The Walking Dead.

walking dead slide

I will briefly explore the rich matrix of transmedial intertextuality preceding the comics and TV series, and will combine the terminologies used by Walter Benjamin (innervation), Thierry Groensteen et al (transecriture; trans-semiotisation)and Pascal Lefevre (adaptation, visual ontologies) to discuss how the motif of "the walking dead" represents the organic rebirth of "dead media" in the particular materialities of different media, such as film, television and performance. 

Based on a comparative close reading of the TV series adaptation of pages 10-12 of The Walking Dead No.1 (October 2003) (and of the "adaptation" from original script to comic) I will link the concept of transmediality to multi-authorship, materiality and translation and the accompanying changes they impose on format and reception. As a comic book with a multiple existence in different publication formats and languages, The Walking Dead exemplifies comic book culture's inherent transmedial nature. 

I will let you know how it goes.

 

I have copied the complete programme below:

Panel

Name

Paper title

Historical perspectives: form and genre

Friday 11am

Chair: Dr Kristian Moen

DOLAN, Josie

Technologies of truth telling in biopic narratives

FRYER, Paul

Opera and the Silent Film

RODRIGUEZ-AMAT, Mon

Rhyming, singing, telling, building: transmediatically forging Germany

SMITH, Susan

Come on Baggy, get with the beat: Transmediality and the Animated Musical

Transmedial performance

Friday 4pm

Chair: Dr Paul Clarke

BESWICK, Katie

Transforming the Council Estate: screen and stage in SPID Theatre Cos 23716

COHEN, Deborah

Korean Nonverbal Performance: A Hybrid Performance Art

REYNOLDS, James

Transmediality and the Uncanny in the devised theatre performances of Robert Lepage and Ex Machina

ROSS, Julian

Variations of Transmediality in Takahiko limuras film and video performances

Transmedia texts and narrative

Saturday 11am

Chair: Dr Ika Willis

ABBA, Tom

Writing Transmedia

DOVEY, Jon

Web Drama? Designing Transmedial narrative

LANDER, Rik and EVANS, Elizabeth

Emotional engagement in pervasive drama

WOOD, Aylish

Zodiac: technology, adaptation, reconstruction

Comparative media forms

Saturday 2pm

Chair: Dr Angela Piccini

FLAXTON, Terry

Developing aesthetics of digital technology and its effects in transmedial disciplines

HARVEY, Colin

Fantasy, memory and transmediality

PRIEGO, Ernesto

The printed comic book as a technology of transmediality

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Today is the first day of the Modern Language Association 2011 Conference in Los Angeles.  Please check out the Comics and Graphic Narratives MLA Discussion Group for full information about comics-related panels at MLA11. 

For programming of Digital Humanities sessions at MLA11, please see Mark Sample's post. 

 

 

The event will feature keynote addresses by:
Prof Mike van den Heuvel (Wisconsin), The Performance of Science.
Prof Jeff Smith (Wisconsin), Popular Music, Intermediality and the Screen.
Prof Sarah Street (Bristol), Technicolor and Transmediality.
Prof Phillip Thurtle (Washington), Theories of Intermediality.
There will also be a performance by the company Bodies in Flight which incorporates different media in its contemporary live performances, introduced by Prof Simon Jones (Bristol), and a screening of extracts from films and television programmes which involve the import/impact of popular music as transmedial experience, compiled and introduced by Dr Kevin Donnelly (Southampton).

 

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