David Thorburn

David Thorburn is Professor of Literature and Director of the Communications Forum at MIT.

  • Rethinking Media Change

    Rethinking Media Change

    The Aesthetics of Transition

    David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins

    The essays in Rethinking Media Change center on a variety of media forms at moments of disruption and cultural transformation. The editors' introduction sketches an aesthetics of media transition—patterns of development and social dispersion that operate across eras, media forms, and cultures. The book includes case studies of such earlier media as the book, the phonograph, early cinema, and television. It also examines contemporary digital forms, exploring their promise and strangeness. A final section probes aspects of visual culture in such environments as the evolving museum, movie spectaculars, and "the virtual window." The contributors reject apocalyptic scenarios of media revolution, demonstrating instead that media transition is always a mix of tradition and innovation, an accretive process in which emerging and established systems interact, shift, and collude with one another.

    • Hardcover $11.75
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Democracy and New Media

    Democracy and New Media

    Henry Jenkins and David Thorburn

    Digital technology is changing our politics. The World Wide Web is already a powerful influence on the public's access to government documents, the tactics and content of political campaigns, the behavior of voters, the efforts of activists to circulate their messages, and the ways in which topics enter the public discourse. The essays collected here capture the richness of current discourse about democracy and cyberspace. Some contributors offer front-line perspectives on the impact of emerging technologies on politics, journalism, and civic experience. What happens, for example, when we increase access to information or expand the arena of free speech? Other contributors place our shifting understanding of citizenship in historical context, suggesting that notions of cyber-democracy and online community must grow out of older models of civic life. Still others consider the global flow of information and test our American conceptions of cyber-democracy against developments in other parts of the world. How, for example, do new media operate in Castro's Cuba, in post-apartheid South Africa, and in the context of multicultural debates on the Pacific Rim? For some contributors, the new technologies endanger our political culture; for others, they promise civic renewal.

    • Hardcover $48.00
    • Paperback $55.00

Contributor

  • Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage

    Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage

    A Critical Discourse

    Fiona Cameron and Sarah Kenderdine

    Theoretical and practical perspectives from a range of disciplines on the challenges of using digital media in interpretation and representation of cultural heritage.

    In Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage, experts offer a critical and theoretical appraisal of the uses of digital media by cultural heritage institutions. Previous discussions of cultural heritage and digital technology have left the subject largely unmapped in terms of critical theory; the essays in this volume offer this long-missing perspective on the challenges of using digital media in the research, preservation, management, interpretation, and representation of cultural heritage. The contributors—scholars and practitioners from a range of relevant disciplines—ground theory in practice, considering how digital technology might be used to transform institutional cultures, methods, and relationships with audiences. The contributors examine the relationship between material and digital objects in collections of art and indigenous artifacts; the implications of digital technology for knowledge creation, documentation, and the concept of authority; and the possibilities for "virtual cultural heritage"—the preservation and interpretation of cultural and natural heritage through real-time, immersive, and interactive techniques.

    The essays in Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage will serve as a resource for professionals, academics, and students in all fields of cultural heritage, including museums, libraries, galleries, archives, and archaeology, as well as those in education and information technology. The range of issues considered and the diverse disciplines and viewpoints represented point to new directions for an emerging field.

    Contributors Nadia Arbach, Juan Antonio Barceló, Deidre Brown, Fiona Cameron, Erik Champion, Sarah Cook, Jim Cooley, Bharat Dave, Suhas Deshpande, Bernadette Flynn, Maurizio Forte, Kati Geber, Beryl Graham, Susan Hazan, Sarah Kenderdine, José Ripper Kós, Harald Kraemer, Ingrid Mason, Gavan McCarthy, Slavko Milekic, Rodrigo Paraizo, Ross Parry, Scot T. Refsland, Helena Robinson, Angelina Russo, Corey Timpson, Marc Tuters, Peter Walsh, Jerry Watkins, Andrea Witcomb

    • Hardcover $43.00
    • Paperback $40.00
  • Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment

    Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment

    Angela Ndalianis

    Tracing the logic of media history, from the baroque to the neo-baroque, from magic lanterns and automata to film and computer games.

    The artists of the seventeenth-century baroque period used spectacle to delight and astonish; contemporary entertainment media, according to Angela Ndalianis, are imbued with a neo-baroque aesthetic that is similarly spectacular. In Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment, she situates today's film, computer games, comic books, and theme-park attractions within an aesthetic-historical context and uses the baroque as a framework to enrich our understanding of contemporary entertainment media.

    The neo-baroque aesthetics that Ndalianis analyzes are not, she argues, a case of art history repeating or imitating itself; these forms have emerged as a result of recent technological and economic transformations. The neo-baroque forms combine sight and sound and text in ways that parallel such seventeenth-century baroque forms as magic lanterns, automata, painting, sculpture, and theater but use new technology to express the concerns of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Moving smoothly from century to century, comparing ceiling paintings to the computer game Doom, a Spiderman theme park adventure to the baroque version of multimedia known as the Bel Composto, and a Medici wedding to Terminator 2:3D, the book demonstrates the logic of media histories. Ndalianis focuses on the complex interrelationships among entertainment media and presents a rigorous cross-genre, cross-historical analysis of media aesthetics.

    • Hardcover $8.75
    • Paperback $22.95
  • New Media, 1740–1915

    New Media, 1740–1915

    Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey B. Pingree

    A cultural history of media that were "new media" in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

    Reminding us that all media were once new, this book challenges the notion that to study new media is to study exclusively today's new media. Examining a variety of media in their historic contexts, it explores those moments of transition when new media were not yet fully defined and their significance was still in flux. Examples range from familiar devices such as the telephone and phonograph to unfamiliar curiosities such as the physiognotrace and the zograscope. Moving beyond the story of technological innovation, the book considers emergent media as sites of ongoing cultural exchange. It considers how habits and structures of communication can frame a collective sense of public and private and how they inform our apprehensions of the "real." By recovering different (and past) senses of media in transition, New Media, 1740-1915 promises to deepen our historical understanding of all media and thus to sharpen our critical awareness of how they acquire their meaning and power.

    Contributors Wendy Bellion, Erin C. Blake, Patricia Crain, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Geoffrey B. Pingree, Gregory Radick, Laura Burd Schiavo, Katherine Stubbs, Diane Zimmerman Umble, Paul Young

    • Hardcover $36.95
    • Paperback $35.00