‘Little Heavy Papery Beautiful Things’: McSweeney's, Metamediality, and the Rejuvenation of the Book in the USA
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/7549
First published (peer reviewed)
Writing Technologies 2010; 3 p.25-41
When Michel Foucault asked ‘What is an Author?’ in 1969, few anticipated that 40 years later the crucial question for authors, publishers, and academics alike would become ‘What is a book?’ or rather ‘What will a book be?’. Just as the intellectual climate of the 1960s and the ensuing theoretical tenets of poststructuralism radically questioned the supposedly privileged and stable entity of authorship, digitization and its technological and material reverberations similarly disrupt most of what we take for granted in books. At this point, it seems doubtful that electronic publishing will eradicate the traditional book anytime soon. Enterprising visionaries of the death of print culture might have grasped as much by consulting Wolfgang Riepl's dissertation from 1913, in which he hypothesizes that new media never entirely replace their predecessors.1 This line of thought has later been eloquently updated and expanded by such media theorists as Marshall McLuhan, David Bolter, and Richard Grusin, whose findings strongly influence the current debate.