(edited by) N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman – Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era


University of Minnesota Press, ISBN: 978-0816680047, English, 344 pages, 2013, USA

This anthology of texts is another excellent contribution by Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman, charting the multifaceted relationship between text and media. It’s based on the comparative media studies approach, here specifically applied to “comparative textual media”. Rethinking the primary relationship with print, the various chapters examine what can be considered as “writing surfaces”. The book is divided in three sections: “theories”, exploring new kinds of textualities constructed through technologies, “practices”, investigating affinities between historically distinct periods, and “recursions”, which looks at how media frameworks can deeply influence and improve reading. There are some crucial issues addressed. Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, for example, defines digital objects and their often misunderstood archival and access characteristics; Joanna Drucker questions timelines based on the evolution of technologies, thinking about contextualising them in the cultures of their time; Thomas Fulton talks about the relationship between the manuscript and print in the seventeenth century (including the idea of diffused piracy) which would inspire similar contemporary relationships; and finally the extreme generative practices of Mark Marino, intertwining text and code, inform the open and yet to be fully defined correspondence between code and digital text. Together with the other essays they form an intense body of work, offering insight on a number of crucial and current text-based #medialities#.