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Comparative Becomings

Studies in Transition


Michael G. Kelly and Daragh O'Connell

The comparative gesture performs both the act and the question of transition between the terms compared. Understood as an intercultural practice, comparative literature may thus also be understood as both a transitive and a transnational process, creating its own object and form of knowledge as it identifies and analyses lines of relation and exchange between literary cultures. When navigating between languages, the discipline becomes critically engaged with the possibility and methods of such navigation. Interdisciplinary and intermedial versions of comparative studies likewise centre around transitions that may themselves remain under-analysed.

This collection of essays, with contributions ranging from medieval literature to digital humanities, seeks to illuminate and interrogate the very diversity of comparative situations, with their attendant versions of comparative discourse. The volume as a whole thereby reflects, however fragmentedly, a field of study that is itself faced with the reality of transition. As both a thematic and formal concern in comparative work, transition emerges, within any historical period or other configuration in which it is charted and analysed, as key to the renewed relevance of comparative literary scholarship and study today.

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9 How to Play a Film: The Game-Like Pleasures of Digital Home Media (Cathrin Bengesser)


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9 How to Play a Film: The Game-Like Pleasures of Digital Home Media

Among the myths characterising pre-digital media consumption are Jean-Louis Baudry’s cinematic cave1 and the TV set imagined as the hearth or campfire in the family home, such as described by Elihu Katz.2 Both evoke images of leaning back in one’s seat or sofa while a film flickers over the screen by itself. Spectators’ activity is limited to munching crisps and occasional family chatter. Then, new media brought along what Lev Manovich called ‘the myth of interactivity’.3 With it came the ‘holy grail’ of interactive narrative.4 These myths evoke pictures of computer gamers pressing buttons, hitting keys and clicking upon the images on the screen, activities which let them shape and create their own stories. With the arrival of digital home media in the late 1990s, film moved from the caves and campfires to not only DVD players but also to computers and consoles, the dominions of interactive entertainment. On the surface this move doesn’t appear to have led to much more than the odd interactive bonus on a DVD, for example, ← 197 | 198 → small games or access to alternate versions.5 Yet, there is a deeper impact of film’s transition into the realm of interactive media via digital home media. It affected the way films are watched.

New Media – New Pleasures

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