I research the technological and cultural remediation of Romantic literature in social and participatory culture. As Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin argue in Remediation: Understanding New Media, new forms of communication “gain their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning […] earlier media.” My research shows how remediation – particularly that of the work of British multimedia artist William Blake – forms a network of literary authors, graphic artists, social media programmers, comic book writers, musicians, and everyday people that remix the Romantic period’s art, politics and thought.
William Blake and Social Media
My current cowritten work, William Blake and the Digital Humanities: Collaboration, Participation, and Social Media, includes everything from media adaptations of Blake to Blake’s presence on sites like Twitter and Facebook, where the popularity of quoting Blake is second only to the Bible and Shakespeare. Our book examines Blakean smart mobs, Twitter feeds, and social networks as folksonomic alternatives to what we call the taxonomic tendencies of Blake’s collected editions from Geoffrey Keynes to the online William Blake Archive. William Blake and the Digital Humanities is currently under contract at Routledge.
Romanticism and Comic Studies
My work on remediation and collaboration extends to my other scholarly activities. In particular, my exploration of comic studies emerges from a consideration of Blake’s visual legacy. “Panelling Parallax: The Fearful Symmetry of William Blake and Alan Moore,” explores how Moore and artist Dave Gibbons transform the motif of symmetry into the panel layout for the fifth issue of their groundbreaking work Watchmen. My contribution to a book collection called The Ontographical Imagination – a collection I am also co-editing – focuses on the representation of the dead, and William Blake in particular, in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell.
Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity: Afterlives in Late-Twentieth Century Film, Fiction and Digital Media examines how authors use Romantic motifs to express anxieties about the transition between mass print and digital participatory culture. Each text I analyze in Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity idolizes fading forms of literary authorship and also embrace new mediums of representation: graphic novels, film, hypertext and digital media. I am currently preparing a book proposal for Romanticism and the Cult of Celebrity and planning to send it to The Ohio State University Press – who has expressed interest in the project.
As my projects demonstrate I articulate points of connection between literature and other forms of media, and explore new digital research methods made possible by the spread of social networks. David Parry’s urgent appeal to question how what we do as academics “has been fundamentally changed in the age of the digital networked archive” particularly motivates me. A vast array of media artifacts already provide ways of understanding this change, and I devote my research to critically analyzing the specific perspective the remediation of Romanticism offers on the effect of the digital network to literary studies.
Areas of Research
- nineteenth-century British literature, especially William Blake
- digital humanities and social media
- comics and graphic novels
- digital pedagogy