Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Direction (Hopefully)

Over the past few months, I have pondered whether or not to cede this forum to wherever it is all the abandoned internet observations go to die. However, I still have a readership of a few dedicated friends and colleagues and I do not want this forum, and the specific connections it engenders, to go away and therefore be of no use to me or anyone else. At the same time, a resounding emptiness has settled over the intellectual part of my brain as I have finished my thesis and all that remain are the formatting changes the graduate college will invariably cast upon me whether I followed their style guide to the letter or not. However, such a project leaves many future avenues for investigation, hopefully by me as I further my academic career, so I have decided to use this space to write, in short pieces, about the questions I hope to answer.

My thesis dealt with the influence of the digital on print, specifically how such
influence affects composition and narrative in contemporary novels like House of Leaves and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that contain a variety of visual media. Meanwhile, I have become a fan of the films of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, in which narratives are related in a nonsequential and often disjointed manner, especially in 21 Grams. Rudimentary research revealed to me the existence of a genre of film called hyperlink cinema, of which Inarritu's films are primary examples. As I already am interested in what Jay David Bolter has called the 'remediation' of the digital into other media, such a term suggests that hyperlinks, which are a component of hypertexts, are being remediated into film and influencing their narratives. I am skeptical of a straightforward interpretation such as this, but it bears investigation, and I will hopefully be conducting it here with the intention of presenting a paper at the 2010 PCA/ACA Conference in St. Louis this March.

With my primary research interests centering around the graphic construction of narrative, it should surprise no one that I have a scholarly interest in comic books. In yet another attempt to develop a conference paper for the University of Florida's ImageNext (which I hope to attend assuming I can get a travel grant), I want to investigate the use of the nine-panel (or even six-panel) page in contemporary comics, especially as it is used to as individual panels and a larger cohesive picture at the same time. This is much less grounded in theory at this stage, and much more supported by my singular amazement at one particular page in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. But as proposals are due at the end of the year, I should hopefully stumble upon something before too long.

Several colleagues have expressed surprise at my willingness to put all my scholarly ideas in a public forum before I take steps to insure they are published (thereby giving me all the credit). I find that a bit of an antiquated view, and think the benefits of outside discussion greatly outweighs the slim chance that my work will be hijacked or plagiarized. In addition, writing is a lonely business, and working out ideas here will allow me to keep plodding towards my ultimate goal of working full time as an academic, hopefully helping me deal with the fact that I have to work more and more in my service industry job just to make ends meet. Help keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak.

Please, let me know what you think about this decision, and more than that, feedback will do nothing but help me as I implement these plans. Many of you are academics, or at least academically inclined, and I suspect that you have an idea or two about such topics already. In fact, I would be open to using this space with other authors who are attempting to jumpstart their own research in a similar fashion, assuming of course that the content was relatively the same.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I find that a bit of an antiquated view, and think the benefits of outside discussion greatly outweighs the slim chance that my work will be hijacked or plagiarized.

I like the notion of airing academic concepts in a public forum before you write about them-- and it seems especially apropos given your thesis topic. It seems a bit backwards to be writing about digital media academically but not actually using it academically. I wish I knew more about the things you were talking about so that I could join in on the conversation more; I have an interest in the topic, but am pretty unknowledgeable, as it's all based on the senior capstone I took three years ago now.

APA/PCA is in St. Louis this year? That would be convenient (my sister goes to school there). I'll have to write up a proposal by December 15th. Surely there's something I can say about The War of the Worlds...