Variable format: Media poetics and the little database
This dissertation explores the situation of twentieth-century art and literature becoming digital. Focusing on relatively small online collections, I argue for materially invested readings of works of print, sound, and cinema from within a new media context. With bibliographic attention to the avant-garde legacy of media specificity and the little magazine, I argue that the “films”, “readings”, “magazines”, and “books” indexed on a series of influential websites are marked by meaningful transformations that continue to shape the present through a dramatic reconfiguration of the past. I maintain that the significance of an online version of a work is not only transformed in each instance of use, but that these versions fundamentally change our understanding of each historical work in turn. Here, I offer the analogical coding of these platforms as “little databases” after the little magazines that served as the vehicle of modernism and the historical avant-garde. Like the study of the full run of a magazine, these databases require a bridge between close and distant reading. Rather than contradict each other as is often argued, in this instance a combined macro- and microscopic mode of analysis yields valuable information not readily available by either method in isolation. In both directions, the social networks and technical protocols of database culture inscribe the limits of potential readings. Bridging the material orientation of bibliographic study with the format theory of recent media scholarship, this work constructs a media poetics for reading analog works situated within the windows, consoles, and networks of the twenty-first century.
Comparative literature|Art history|Communication
Snelson, Daniel Scott, "Variable format: Media poetics and the little database" (2015). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3722240.