Friday, 11 March 2011

Lost in transmediation

I am at a symposium called “Narration as a Transmedial Phenomenon”. It is a luxury kind of academic event: there are only twenty of us, and each person has a 45-minute slot, during which you do a 10-minute presentation followed by a discussion. This is what I call scholarly exchange. We are all from different countries and different disciplines, although most are either word people or image people or both, but there are also some music people. There is not much you can say in ten minutes, so the point is to throw out some ideas for discussion. It immediately becomes clear that we do not understand each other too well. We all speak about narratives, narration, narrators, narrativity, and obviously we all mean different things. We also speak about intermediality, multimediality, transmediality, transmedialisation – and we all mean different things. Some of us think a narrative must have a narrator, some think it's optional. Some claim that orchestral music can not be narrative, other say it can and show it by going outside music itself into context. It transpires that people working on graphic novels have never seen a single piece of scholarship on picturebooks. It is pointless to observe that young adult novels are frequently narrated in present tense, since nobody knows what a young adult novel is.

Some people have their laptops in front of them. Not that I mind, but I see that my neighbour is not just taking notes, but googles, presumably the speaker, or a term, or perhaps a source to back a counter-argument. This makes me nervous. I don't want to be googled in the middle of my presentation.

By the end of the day we still have no agreement on narrativity


Linnea Hendrickson said...

Sigh. It sounds like an exercise in frustration!

Maria Nikolajeva said...

Indeed. And it was more of it today. I am not sure I want to write about it.