The emergence and spread of electric technologies in the second half of the nineteenth century was a key development on the road to the modern, globally connected age. But how uniformly were these new technologies adopted or adapted in the different cultural and economic environments into which they were introduced? The Media Histories working group is interested in the growing body of scholarship surrounding such historical questions and their theoretical import for thinking about the interaction of new electric media (telephony, sound reproduction, photography, and electric light) with the old non-electric arts (writing, painting, dance and music). We will discuss a range of scholarly studies dealing with the historical reception of new media.
Our intention is to bring together scholars working in a variety of fields, both in the humanities and STEM, in order to share perspectives on the historical, economic, philosophical and aesthetic questions of what made old media ‘new,’ the ways in which ‘new’ media interacted with and changed ‘old’ conceptions of material, and the continuing fascination that such transitional periods continue to hold. What points of intersection or divergence exist between art and engineering? How do traditional artistic media embrace or resist new technologies? The group welcomes graduate students and faculty to participate in reading discussions and workshop events, as well as a concluding conference.