Invited Talk: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
On January 30th, I give a talk on my forthcoming book at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s Digital Studies group. There are a lot of great people doing interesting things in DH, so I’m really looking forward to sharing my work and exchanging ideas. I’ll also join a workshop for graduate students to talk about digital studies and technoculture–we’re discussing our forthcoming edited volume, Techno-Orientalism.
This talk draws an explicit connection between open source software programming and literary and cultural development by theorizing a formalist approach to network architecture and creative practices. As more content migrates to electronic platforms, Roh argues that literary and cultural development may need to move away from the idea of a sanctified original genius and a fixed textual identity towards a software model of “versioning,” which conflicts with the modern iteration of copyright law. Positing a macroscopic view of literary development, this talk calls into question assumptions about the value of derivative creativity, copyright law, and network structure. Roh argues that the increasingly non-hierarchical mode of intertextual, parodic, and dialogic—oftentimes illegal—creativity necessitates another kind of understanding of how cultural evolution operates, which he calls “disruptive textuality.” Roh shows in a case study of open source programming that dialogism in the digital age reflects a cultural shift in productive textual practices. It may be that the network environment best reflects the cultural and architectural roots of dialogue conducive to rapid, iterative cultural and textual evolution.