Title: Imagining Television (1880-1950). Literature and the Construction of a Medium
Authors: Willaert, Tom # ×
Issue Date: 14-Jun-2016
Conference: Hermes Symposium. Contemporary Perspectives on Media and Genre Interaction location:KU Leuven date:12-16 June 2016
Abstract: The final decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century saw the introduction of a number of new media, including photography, the gramophone, film, and radio. It has been well established that writers played key roles in the historical development and social embedding of these media, for instance by introducing their audience to these innovations and their uses. Similarly, it has been shown how new media inspired writers to reconsider the nature and possibilities of their own ‘medium’: literature. Of all these media innovations, however, there is one that has attracted comparatively little attention from literary scholars, namely early television. Though television only took on the form we now associate with it in the 1950s and 60s, the first technologies for ‘distant seeing’ nonetheless firmly established themselves within the media ecology between 1880 and 1950. In this talk, I present a new research project that aims to offer a systematic study of the literary reception of early television during this period. Informed by the theoretical and methodological framework of the social construction of technology (SCOT), the project hypothesizes (a) that writers were instrumental in introducing and shaping the new medium of television and (b) that television in turn challenged authors to evaluate and redefine the possibilities of literature. My talk specifically explores the generic dimension of this constructive dialectic by focusing on the case of American television pioneer and patron of the modern science fiction genre Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967).
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Literary Theory and Cultural Studies, Leuven
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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