Reading Pictures, Seeing Words
“How do we strike a balance, continuing to value and maintain the quality and craftsmanship of print scholarship, while making room for new and vibrant methods of scholarly invention and production?” (p.1)
In 2000, scholars Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin coined the term remediation to describe the process through which new media evolves, arguing that it first imitates older media, then develops original characteristics and abilities, and finally arrives at a state of flux in which it functions in ways both familiar and unique. In Chapter One of Technologies of Wonder, Susan H. Delagrange lays out the historical background of media development as a means of contextualizing our particular moment of digital media immersion. We are at the point in the adoption of this new media in which we are ready, willing, and excited about the new technological possibilities the digital offers for scholarship, composition, and pedagogy but have yet to move beyond what Delagrange calls “the historical privileging of the Word” (p. 2).
Though more and more scholars are creating, studying, and teaching digital media, she argues that it has not yet been fully embraced, understood, and used in a theorized manner that allows us to take full advantage of its potential and to fully appreciate it as a unique medium. The significance of our particular historical period is not to be underestimated: Delagrange writes that “We stand at a unique moment of convergence in the humanities, when scholars in Digital Media Studies have the expertise and the opportunity to set the tone and to influence the direction of digital standards and practices for years to come” (p.1).
Delagrange states that her plan for Technologies of Wonder is to explore what this tone and direction might, or should, look like. Specific areas of concern that are introduced in Chapter One and explored in more depth in subsequent chapters are the importance of considering ethics—particularly issues of technological access, literacy, and power—in our use of new media, the potential digital media offers for re-valuing and exploring visual rhetoric, and the benefits of using feminist epistemology—with its focus on issues of justice—as a framework to guide us through taking care that technological change does not lead to preventable exclusions or inequities.