ebr version 1.0: Winter 1995/96

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

To introduce an electronic
review, in the very medium that is reducing book technology to a
museum piece, is to confront some of the more persistent cultural
contradictions of the past few decades. This is the late age of print
we’re in, when all the books worth saving are being scanned into digital
archives, and the very conception of the book as a fixed object is
giving way to the hyperreality of letters floating on a screen. For
those writers who are committed to working in the new electronic
environments, such a “review” might better be named a “retrospective,” a
mere scholarly commemoration of a phenomenon that is passing. “The death
of books” has spawned a rather lively academic discourse of its own,
following in the wake of post-history, post-structuralism,
post-feminism, and the various postmodernisms that have worked to
undercut the authority of original authorship. The argument has been
made that technological change represents a happy “convergence” with
developments in literary theory; yet new technologies and media of
reproduction are pervasive enough to have themselves produced the
cultural climate that gave rise to the theory. As the critic and media
theorist William Paulson has argued, there’s a technological subtext to
the declining prestige of authors and literary canons. To bring that
subtext to the surface will be part of ebr’s agenda.

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Ole Samdal