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Week 3                           

Exercise for Week 3

 

We shall look at the material practice of writing. Thinking of writing as technology, defamiliarises it, letting us see it for the first time.

Read Ong’s Orality and literacy : the technologizing of the word, concentrate on Chapter 5 (special reserve)

Walter Ong shows how books and oral overlap and argues controversially that communication technologies change the way the human mind thinks, remembers, argues. 

Ong ‘writing (and esp. alphabetical writing) is a technology, calling for the use of tools and other equipment . . .‘p81-2 (be it ‘paper, animal skins or strips of wood’). This is the material aspect

 

Two of you will prepare a table (as last week) this time comparing oral with literate modes according to Ong. In a page of text relate the table to the work of Bolter.
Link this reading to the discussion on Bolter and differences between print and hypertext.

Bolter thinks writing is being more visualised whereas Ong talks of a third orality. Who is right?

 

Have a look at Tofts

Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture. North Ryde, Australia: G + B Arts International, 1998. (Special Reserve)

Tofts looks at the history of memory and how technologies affect memory Literacy is also integral to memory being one of the earliest information storage systems. Oral cultures practiced an entirely different kind of memory work and writing was born of the need to extend the capacities of the human mind for remembering. This was initially represented by invento and lists. The move to literacy from orality gave birth to the first recorded incidence of the ‘technofear’ that spans the period from Socrates to present, the original ‘technology of alienation.’ (p40)

 How does new media eg film, photography affect aesthetic notions and responses? (Distraction)

 

If you have time, get some sense of the following two texts – The net should help here.

 Siegfried Kracauer Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, (1926) Oxford University Press, 1960

Benjamin, Walter, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ (1936) in Illuminations Trans. Harry Zohn, Shocken Books, 1969, p 217-251.

Benjamin is at once nostalgic about the loss of the "aura" of traditional art and optimistic about new cultural technologies - what Benjamin calls reproducible art.

The essay's project: to define the "aura" of traditional art and to analyze the decay of this art and its aura under the impact of new cultural technologies, what Benjamin calls reproducible art.

Film reflects these changes through montage which tears things from their habitual modes and reassembles them in constantly changing combinations. Montage has a liberating potential and can offer political engagement with the world.

 

How might these theories relate to writing for the internet?