Guardians of the Gutenberg Galaxy: a Cultural Analysis of Resistances to Digital Poetries

Abstract (in English): 

The primary aim of this paper is to identify some of the key structural elements of resistances to digital poetries, and emergent forms of resistance to digital poetries, exhibited in data collected from publishers associated with page-based poetry (Bohn) in Britain. This will start with analyses of interview texts from a spectrum of UK poetry publishers (collected as part of the first half of my PhD studies) with a particular attention paid to those newly developed modes of resistance to the digital, and the structure of organised and disorganised resistances. A guiding principle is that analysis of resistances, cultural hostility, and the negative spectrum of taste is often as revealing as that of the positive (Bourdieu). The relationship between these resistances and other statements of taste will be interrogated, their motives interpreted. These analyses will be used as a launchpad to raise wider questions about cultural authority, distinction and guardianship. More specifically stories of these resistances will be told through interrogating the interview texts with a variety of methods including commutation testing (Barthes), word frequency analysis, comparative literary methods of the script and through creative practice, including a number of digital performative texts (of which one or two short clips will be played). The subject of the research is the structures of resistance, where resistance is a broad spectrum form explicit statements of taste and intent, to implicit resistance i.e. changes to production models and publishing strategies. The paper directly engages with attempts to 'combat' the threat that digital poetry may (or may not) pose to the market share, primary function, and cultural significance of, the page-based print publication of poetry. The research is of use as an exploration of taste in contemporary poetry publishing, and in framing our changing understanding of the role of publishing. It raises questions about the future of digital poetries.

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David Devanny