Drinking the Kool-Aid.

We tend to be a very text-based operation. And even as we migrate to digital content, it’s still text. What does this mean in a film-focused world? What’s the role of the library in a post-text world?

Text is dead or dying my friends… prepare now!
Just some fun thoughts for a Friday.

-Brian Matthews, “The New English Major, Some Thoughts About Post-Text Scholarship”

Frankly, the idea of A/V based argument appeals to me, and I emphasize my visual language a lot in this blog as a way to comment on my own text. What I’m not buying is the rhetoric. It is hard imagine it ever become a primary mode of scholarly communication and argument, film provides entire departments worth of things to analyze debate, articulate and teach, and text is integral to that process. The shift of emphasis between libraries as sites of collection and sites of production will always be ongoing and I’m for working it out.  We could support film better, but film schools also have a lot of that production ability in-house, which is where it ought to be. The matter of the fact is that text is not dead ( “Text” is a part of the world of visual communication) and if we intend to be taken seriously as sites of production then it behooves us to keep the lines to the past open for those in the future. There are things you can say with film that you can’t with text, and the opposite is true. The stance that text is dead, as premised by unnamed sources saying that “film studies is the new english” is buying into boosterism. As it was pointed out at Sense and Reference:

Students and faculty want to keep the books because, after all, that’s what makes a library. Sure, they’d like a latte and extra study rooms to go along with those books, but they aren’t going the other direction and requesting cafes in spite of the books. If Denver teaches us anything, it’s that students want a new technologies and spaces within the library not instead of the library.

We need all these things, and we need to specifically advocate for all kinds of communication and their preservation. Otherwise, we run the risk of buying someone else’s hype, or worse: our own.

3 thoughts on “Drinking the Kool-Aid.

  1. Well said. This “text is dead” rhetoric betrays such a naive techno-determinism that it’s hard to take the boosters seriously. It’s almost like the liberal arts equivalent of engineers loudly proclaiming that “the wheel is dead” because we have the airplane. From text/video to print/ebooks to popular/scholarly or any other trumped up library dichotomy, the answer isn’t a simplistic “either/or”. These sorts of issues are too important and too exciting for this kind of childish logic. Again, excellent post.

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