Literature in its Media Context

Svend Erik Larsen 1
  • 1 Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Svend Erik Larsen
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  • Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
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  • Svend Erik Larsen (b. 1946) is Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, and Yangtze River Professor, Sichuan University. He is co-editor of Orbis Litterarum. His research interests include cultural studies, literary history, history of ideas, and semiotics. His publications include the books Signs in use (2002) and Literature and the experience of globalization (2017), and the edited volumes Actualité de Brøndal (1987) and Gärten und Parks (1997).
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Abstract

Literature consists of works of language, but it has never been able to function as literature without being part of a cluster of interconnected media. From time immemorial, oratures require performances to work and thus cannot exist without use of bodily signs or use of various tools and instruments. Today, of course, this extended media landscape is vaster and more complex and distributed through more differentiated and numerous agencies than ever before, which also changes the mutual relation among the media involved in the production, dissemination, and use of literature, as well as changing the position of literature in the media landscape. A growing anonymity of the agents for mediation also challenges the articulation of history and memory in today’s cultures. The aim of the paper is to contribute to an understanding of the dynamics of the entire cluster of media with literature at its center, rather than making an account of the separate media involved. The canonical Anglo-Irish eighteenth-century writer Jonathan Swift will serve as my primary material.

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Chinese Semiotic Studies (CSS) is a peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the International Institute of Semiotic Studies of Nanjing Normal Universityand the Chinese Semiotic Research Center of the Chinese Association of Linguistic Semiotics. As the only semiotics journal in China appearing in English, CSS is a unique outlet for Chinese scholars to be heard in western academia, expanding the dialogue between Chinese and western semioticians.

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