Communications media have been integral to American life from the early colonization of New England to the transnational networks formed during the twentieth century. This special issue will explore the insights that emerge when we think about mediation in general and digital technologies more specifically in the context of American literary history and cultural production. Over the last decade, the work of scholars such as Alexander Galloway and Lisa Nakamura has already reframed key questions about class, gender, and race in visual and digital contexts. This issue seeks to explore further how new media change the way that we think about American literature and the methods we use to study it.
This issue encourages a broad range of questions about the relationship between new media and American literature. How, for instance, might we think about literary representations of media that are perceived as new in their historical period? How do digital media transform the formal and political dimensions of contemporary American literature? How have prose styles and aesthetics, at different historical moments, been influenced by new communications technologies from the telegraph to the phonograph to cinema to the digital computer to mobile phones? Moreover, do the transmedia dimensions of such technologies suggest a scope that surpasses the geopolitical boundaries of the United States? Finally, how do American studies methods help us think about paraliterary productions such as electronic narratives and digital games? How does American literature help us understand the relationship between cultural theory (for example, critical race scholarship) and media studies (such as software studies)? How are digital humanities methods, both qualitative and quantitative, affecting American studies for better or worse? Are the humanities now necessarily digital?
For this issue, there is also the possibility of an accompanying Web site that would publish peer-reviewed multimodal pieces that use new media in their very form. If you are interested in submitting a more experimental piece, please contact the editors before submitting. Some production support may be available for these works, especially for work undertaken in the new authoring platform Scalar. Scalar is designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form scholarship online. The platform particularly facilitates work that engages visual materials. For more information about Scalar, please see scalar.usc.edu/anvc.
Special issue editors will be Wendy H. K. Chun, Patrick Jagoda, and Tara McPherson. Submissions of 11,000 words or less (including endnotes) should be submitted electronically at www.editorialmanager.com/al/ by 31 March 2012. When choosing a submission type, select “New Submission-New Media Special Issue.” For assistance with the submission process, please contact the office of American Literature at (919) 684–3948 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please direct other questions to Wendy H. K. Chun (Wendy_Hui_Kyong_Chun@Brown.edu), Patrick Jagoda (email@example.com), or Tara McPherson (firstname.lastname@example.org).