Required Reading: Shaviro on Melancholia

I’m not teaching any courses right now, but if I were then Steven Shaviro’s “MELANCHOLIA, or the Romantic Anti-Sublime” would definitely be required reading! This is an important essay, and the new open-access journal in which it appears, Sequence: Serial Studies in Media, Film, and Music, is sure to establish itself as an important site of media research. Founded and co-edited by Catherine Grant (of Film Studies for Free fame), the peer-reviewed journal responds to the medial specificities of its digital environment in an innovative — but nevertheless quite “natural” — way: by structuring itself in terms of seriality. From the “About” page:

SEQUENCE will use its position outside of established academic publishing frameworks to work adaptively and responsively, using a sequential edited-collection format – its publication schedule set by its authors and readers, and their research and concerns. In other words, it will make an open-access virtue of its own low-fi, D.I.Y., modular blog format. It can only do this meaningfully, of course, because of the generous labour and research expertise of its authors, and of the editorial and advisory boards of its publisherREFRAME.

Each new scholarly SEQUENCE will begin with the publication of one valuable contribution to research in the fields of media, film or music – on a particular theme named in the issue title. But the editors of each individual SEQUENCE won’t necessarily know what the next in their series will be, or when exactly it will come. Each SEQUENCE could, theoretically, turn out to be ‘infinite’, or only as long as the first, self-contained contribution – a hopefully interesting and worthy, if possibly melancholic, kind of monograph.

In any case, each contribution to a SEQUENCE, and each evolving SEQUENCE as a whole, will go on to be published in a variety of electronic viewing and reading formats, with the web version only the first in a series of digital iterations.

Instead of regularity, we aim above all for spreadability and engagement. Readers will find out about new SEQUENCES, and new contributions and updates to existing SEQUENCES through the paraphernalia and pullulations of contemporary online serial publication: primarily, the project’s blog, its RSS feeds, and its Twitter and Facebook pages, and, hopefully, sharings on from those.

In this spirit, check out Shaviro’s excellent article, share it, and spread the word about this important new venue for online, peer-reviewed, open-access scholarship!

Transnational American Studies

I have yet to hear from anyone at the annual conference of the German Association for American Studies, which is going on now (May 31 – June 3, 2012) in Mainz, but the volume pictured above – Transnational American Studies, edited by Udo Hebel — was scheduled to make its debut there. (The Amazon page is up, but currently listing the book as not yet available.) In any case, I look forward to reading the contributions to the volume, which the publisher (Winter) describes thus:

Transnational approaches and theories have reshaped the interdisciplinary trajectory of American Studies since the turn of the millennium. The further extension of perspectives on the United States and North America to prominently include Atlantic Studies, Hemispheric Studies, and Pacific Studies has complicated long-standing notions of ‘American Studies’ and problematized concepts such as nation, identity, and American exceptionalism.

The collection gathers thirty original contributions to transnational American Studies from the fields of cultural studies, literature, history, politics, and media studies. Individual essays reassess the global role of the U.S. and its perceptions from within and without, discuss how transnational and comparative explorations emphasize multidirectional processes of cultural exchange and transfer, and show how paradigms of migration and cultural mobility have taken definitions and practices of American Studies beyond traditional geographical and disciplinary limits.

Oh, and did I mention that I have a chapter in the book? (Sorry for the self-promotion, but that’s what blogs are for, right?) Anyway, my piece is called “Frame, Sequence, Medium: Comics in Plurimedial and Transnational Perspective,” and it’s a reworking of a talk by the same title that I gave at last year’s DGfA conference. (In case you missed it but are interested, a screencast video of the full presentation can be viewed here.)