Fast Forward or the metamorphoses of literary studies turning digital

Abstract : Based on the experience of the junior research group “Berlin intellectuals 1800-1830”, this lecture explores the way modern literary studies apprehend the digital turn and how it affects (or fails to affect) their self-understanding. Does the so-called “digitization” amount to using “new” methods to answer “old” questions and if so, what justifies the resilience to those methods in the scientific community? Digital approaches often scare off literary scholars because they require developing IT-skills: this is true, but it is only a small part of the truth. They also make what can feel like the last solid grounds crumble, particularly the concept of text and the historiography of canonical authors that had bravely resisted the theoretical dismantlings of the 20th century. Also, digital literary studies come along with forms of communication that have a major medial potential as scholarly tools and as literary formats (blogging, tweeting), but a potential equally untamed and unregulated in both declinations. These varying levels of intrusion of digitality in literary studies show that what the discipline would actually need most are “old” methods help sorting out with the “new” questions, and not necessarily shiny new methods to answer old questions. In the middle of that slow and complex (and, yes, somewhat scary) process of disciplinary recontouring, rabbits are being pulled out of magic hats and thrown in the arena: infrastructural calls for applications, virtual research environments, meta-infrastructures, that impose to this evolution a pace of their own. Imposed interdisciplinarity makes it all the more difficult to assess one’s own disciplinary position and that of the discipline at large. The metamorphoses are by far not over. This lecture wants to plead for a reflected approach on our disciplinary expectations to them.
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Anne Baillot. Fast Forward or the metamorphoses of literary studies turning digital. "Culture and Technology" - The European Summer School in Digital Humanities, 2014, Elisabeth Burr, Jul 2014, Leipzig, Germany. ⟨halshs-01141235⟩

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