Organization: Northeast Modern Language Association
Event: NeMLA 2021
From Salman Rushdie’s Twitter feed and Amazon reviews to Bookstagram and GoogleScholar, there is no doubt that digital technology has had a significant impact on the literary landscape. And yet in literary studies, our engagement with the impact of digital technology on how literature is read, criticized, and produced is still in its infancy. Much of the existing research on digital literary studies is focused on anomalous projects that are closer to performance art pieces than what we might call mainstream literary culture or they study pre-digital literary topics using digital humanities tools and methods. While this research is necessary and valuable, it does not often concern itself with digital-born literary culture—i.e. how exactly contemporary literary culture is mitigated by digital technology. Everything from literary prizes and the academic canon to celebrity authors and reader reviews exists within a digital framework. The study of this landscape is happening within many disciplines, but literary scholars have been slow to contribute. As Matthew Kirschenbaum (2015) has said, the “threshold of critical responsibility” for literary scholars has shifted with digital technology, signaling wide ramifications for concepts like authorship, audience, the canon, and literary criticism. This panel seeks interdisciplinary and/or literary studies research that examines digital-born literary culture.