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The Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Arts and Media

Forms, Functions, Attempts at Explanation

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Werner Wolf

One possible description of the contemporary medial landscape in Western culture is that it has gone ‘meta’ to an unprecedented extent, so that a remarkable ‘meta-culture’ has emerged. Indeed, ‘metareference’, i.e. self-reflexive comments on, or references to, various kinds of media-related aspects of a given medial artefact or performance, specific media and arts or the media in general is omnipresent and can, nowadays, be encountered in ‘high’ art and literature as frequently as in their popular counterparts, in the traditional media as well as in new media. From the Simpsons, pop music, children’s literature, computer games and pornography to the contemporary visual arts, feature film, postmodern fiction, drama and even architecture – everywhere one can find metareferential explorations, comments on or criticism of representation, medial conventions or modes of production and reception, and related issues. Within individual media and genres, notably in research on postmodernist metafiction, this outspoken tendency towards ‘metaization’ is known well enough, and various reasons have been given for it. Yet never has there been an attempt to account for what one may aptly term the current ‘metareferential turn’ on a larger, transmedial scale. This is what The Metareferential Turn in Contemporary Arts and Media: Forms, Functions, Attempts at Explanation undertakes to do as a sequel to its predecessor, the volume Metareference across Media (vol. 4 in the series ‘Studies in Intermediality’), which was dedicated to theoretical issues and transhistorical case studies. Coming from diverse disciplinary and methodological backgrounds, the contributors to the present volume propose explanations of impressive subtlety, breadth and depth for the current situation in addition to exploring individual forms and functions of metareference which may be linked with particular explanations. As expected, there is no monocausal reason to be found for the situation under scrutiny, yet the proposals made have in their compination a remarkable explanatory power which contributes to a better understanding of an important facet of current media production and reception. The essays assembled in the volume, which also contains an introduction with a detailed survey over the possibilities of accounting for the metareferential turn, will be relevant to students and scholars from a wide variety of fields: cultural history at large, intermediality and media studies as well as, more particularly, literary studies, music, film and art history.

Edited by Theo D'haen and Hans Bertens

Postmodern Studies deals with (any aspect of) postmodernism, or of postmodernity and the postmodern in relation to literature.

Publications in this series can be either of a theoretical or a more practical/analytic nature. They may refer to any one, or to several, literary works, genres, or literatures. They may also refer to the other arts, provided the main focus remain literary. In evaluating contributions, the editors of Postmodern Studies will follow no particular methodological or ideological bias.

All manuscripts accepted in the series first undergo a process of peer review.

Due to rapid developments in literary studies we close the series for new publications.

Matthew Feldman

The following attempts to identify an implicit theoretical divergence already existing in Beckett Studies. Contrasting methodologies, albeit oftentimes implicitly, continue to approach Beckett's writing from markedly different perspectives. One contributing factor to this dilemma is found in Beckett's art and (now archived) supporting materials, which shall also be considered. This article concludes that theorising from a position of empirical accuracy, especially in Beckett Studies, is inherently preferable in demonstrably increasing scholarly knowledge of our shared subject, Samuel Beckett.

Narration and Explanation

Contributions to the Methodology of the Historical Research

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Edited by Jerzy Topolski

Virtual Geographies

Cyberpunk at the Intersection of the Postmodern and Science Fiction

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Sabine Heuser

Virtual Geographies is the first detailed study to offer a working definition of cyberpunk within the postmodern force field. Cyberpunk emerges as a new generic cluster within science fiction, one that has spawned many offspring in such domains as film, music, and feminism. Its central features are its adherence to a version of virtual space and a deconstructivist, punk attitude towards (high) culture, modernity, the human body and technology, from computers to prosthetics. The main proponents of cyberpunk are analyzed in depth along with the virtual landscapes they have created - William Gibson’s Cyberspace, Pat Cadigan’s Mindscapes and Neal Stephenson’s Metaverse. Virtual reality is examined closely in all its aspects, from the characteristic narrative constructions employed to the esthetic implications of the ‘virtual sublime’ and its postmodern potential as a discursive mode. With its interdisciplinary approach Virtual Geographies opens up fresh perspectives for scholars interested in the interaction between popular culture and mainstream literature. At the same time, the science fiction fan will be taken beyond the conventional boundaries of the genre into such revitalizing domains as postmodern architecture and literature, and into cutting-edge aspects of science and social thought.

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Richard van Leeuwen

the group to some extent, it is still large and diverse. This has some important implications, especially with regard to the methodological approach and the organization of the book. First, the book is not a ‘literary history’ tracing a progressive chronological trajectory of influences of the

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Richard van Leeuwen

methodological problem implied by this question is reflected in the analyses of orientalism in Joyce’s work by various literary scholars, who sometimes stress the incidental occurrence of references, sometimes highlight the textual aspects of intertextuality, and sometimes focus on societal and ideological

The Guises of Canadian Diversity / Les masques de la diversité canadienne

New European Perspectives / Nouvelles perspectives européennes

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Edited by Serge Jaumain and Marc Maufort

The essays collected here illustrate aspects of recent research conducted by graduate students in Canadian studies at various European universities. The methodological diversity displayed points to the very essence of the culture the contributors explore - what has been commonly termed the Canadian mosaic or, more recently, the Canadian kaleidoscope (Janice Kulyk-Keefer). In analysing the many facets of this mosaic, the numerous images of this kaleidoscope, the contributors offer fresh and youthful reappraisals of traditional visions of Canadianness.

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Edited by Jana Gohrisch and Ellen Grünkemeier

Bringing together contributions from various disciplines and academic fields, this collection engages in interdisciplinary dialogue on postcolonial issues. Covering African, anglophone, Romance, and New-World themes, linguistic, literary, and cultural studies, and historiography, music, art history, and textile studies, the volume raises questions of (inter)disciplinarity, methodology, and entangled histories.
The essays focus on the representation of slavery in the transatlantic world (the USA, Jamaica, Haiti, and the wider Caribbean, West Africa, and the UK). Drawing on a range of historical sources, material objects, and representations, they study Jamaican Creole, African masks, knitted objects, patchwork sculpture, newspapers, films, popular music, and literature of different genres from the Caribbean, West and South Africa, India, and Britain. At the same time, they reflect on theoretical problems such as intertextuality, intermediality, and cultural exchange, and explore intersections – postcolonial literature and transatlantic history; postcolonial and African-American studies; postcolonial literary and cultural studies. The final section keys in with the overall aim of challenging established disciplinary modes of knowledge production: exploring schools and universities as locations of postcolonial studies. Teachers investigate the possibilities and limits of their respective institutions and probe new ways of engaging with postcolonial concerns.
With its integrative, interdisciplinary focus, this collection addresses readers interested in understanding how colonization and globalization have influenced societies and cultures around the world.
Contributors: Anja Bandau, Sabine Broeck, Sarah Fekadu, Matthias Galler, Janou Glencross, Jana Gohrisch, Ellen Grünkemeier, Jessica Hemmings, Jan Hüsgen, Johannes Salim Ismaiel–Wendt, Ursula Kluwick, Henning Marquardt, Dennis Mischke, Timo Müller, Mala Pandurang, Carl Plasa, Elinor Jane Pohl, Brigitte Reinwald, Steffen Runkel, Andrea Sand, Cecile Sandten, Frank Schulze–Engler, Melanie Ulz, Reinhold Wandel, Tim Watson

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Richard Lang and Mark Bell

impaled. In respect of its equality case-law, Carey has said that the Court of Justice is incoherent, and criticized its ‘illogical application of tests.’ 23 Holtmaat and Tobler describe the Court’s approach as ‘misguided.’ 24 Prechal talks of ‘methodologically puzzling’ approaches and ‘mixed messages