Christine Mitchell is an FQRSC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. In 2013-2014, she held a Postdoctoral Fellowship with SpokenWeb, a digital spoken word archive for literary research, in the English Department at Concordia University. She is working on a manuscript that develops a media theory of translation through examination of language laboratories, machine translation, translation bureaus, and gamified language learning.
Authors | Christine Mitchell
Articles on Amodern by Christine Mitchell
Excerpts from The Poetry Series, 1966-1974.
As digital migration and networking broaden the territory, possibilities and forms of humanities scholarship, audio recordings of literary performances present a rich new area for critical inquiry. The poetry reading series, as a literary and performance genre and temporal entity, demands special emphasis as it resists straightforward classifications and modes of presentation. How can we approach, understand and engage with “the poetry series” as a discursive formation, a historical occasion, and as a literary subject as we encounter it through a variety of print and sound media artifacts?
This special issue of Amodern interrogates the poetry series by orienting a range of critical, archival, historical and creative interventions around a single poetry series from the 1960s and 70s. That event, called “The Poetry Series,” was originally preserved on a collection of reel-to-reel tapes and has recently been digitally re-animated as SpokenWeb, a digital spoken word archive for literary research.
Individual contributions to this issue are episodes in critical, historiographic and creative framing, a means of rendering the poetry series – an ephemeral program of events – discernible again in the present. Taken together, this issue of Amodern makes an argument for an expanded literary historical critical practice that considers the challenges of migrating literary cultural artifacts and media to digital formats, that registers the specificities of a distinctly audiotextual criticism, that confronts the benefits and risks of recognizing poetics as media poetics and literary histories as media and institutional histories, and that assembles new communities of scholarly practitioners in an effort to understand this manifestation of literary performance, including literary and cultural critics, digital humanists and designers, archivists, librarians, audience members, sound technicians and oral historians.
A Conversation with Shannon Mattern
Shannon Mattern’s broad-ranging media archaeological research and teaching attend to textual and literary spaces, sound archives and the materialities of media migration and transformation. This conversation alights on Mattern’s experience and insight and offers an indispensable entreé to the pleasures, risks, stakes and meanings of media historical investigation and hands-on archival work for literary and performance scholars confronting their objects of study as media artifacts. Addressing the practicalities and problems around archival research and archive building, Mattern charts the territory and signals key debates for newcomers to media archaeological ventures with respect to what sound and media archives mean, and the ways we encounter and create them.
Finding Poetry in the Institutional Archive
While the reel-to-reel tapes that preserved the SGWU Poetry Series can rightfully be considered literary artifacts, this paper explores their conditions of existence as instructional media productions. Archival research and interviews reveal that recording was overseen by a centralized campus media unit using equipment belonging to the university’s language laboratories and post-production routines oriented around materials for laboratory use. In examining the effects of media-pedagogical trends, staff routines, commitments, know-how and changing administrative priorities on the care and survival of the tapes at the micro level, the paper foregrounds a macro-level argument regarding the agency of institutions and their personnel in constructions and relations of mediality and literariness.