Exploring Narratives: Bassett’s New Media Book

Caroline Bassett’s new book “The Arc and the Machine: Narrative and New Media” by Manchester University Press is out now. It’s sitting on my desk in front of me and I’m very much looking forward to reading it as Bassett’s How Many Movements? (see below) is one of my favourite readings.

Bassett Arc

This is from the cover of the book:

‘The arc and the machine is a timely and original defence of narrative in an age of information. Stressing interpretation and experience alongside affect and sensation it convincingly argues that narrative is key to contemporary forms of cultural production and to the practice of everyday life in an increasingly mediated world where globalised information networks are pervasive and ubiquitous.

Re-appraising the prospects for narrative in the digital age, it insists on the centrality of narrative to informational culture and provokes a critical re-appraisal of how innovations in information technology as a material cultural form can be understood and assessed.

The book offers a careful exploration of narrative theory, a sophisticated critique of techno-cultural writing, and a series of tightly focused case studies exploring narrative space, narrative identity and non-linear narrative. Together they point the way to a restoration of a critical rather than celebratory approach to new media. The scope and range of this book is broad, its argumentation careful and exacting, and its conclusions exciting. This will be essential reading in new media and media studies, film studies and cultural studies, as well as being of interest to theorists of everyday life and cultural geography and to literary scholars interested in hypertext and medium theory.’

Bassett is director of the Research Centre of Material Digital Culture, Senior Lecturer and Convener of the Digital Media MA in the Department of Media and Film Studies at the University of Sussex – and my supervisor.

One of my favourite mobile media texts, and probably one of Caroline Bassett’s most popular texts is

Bassett, Caroline (2003) How Many Movements? Michael Bull and Les Beck, ed., in Auditory Culture Reader Oxford, New York: Berg pp. 343-354 ISBN 1859736130

republished in

Bassett, Caroline (2005) How Many Movements? in Open, Cahier on Art and the Public Domain, 2005 pp. 38-48

(This is a great issue on sound,

check out the other chapters as well! And there’s another highly relevant

issue on Hybrid Space.)
If you haven’t read it yet, check out How Many Movements?. Here are just a few highlights:

I am very interested in Bassett’s notion of ‘the auditory space opened up through the phone’ (Bassett, 2005 p39) but equally with how Bassett goes beyond the auditory space by introducing imaginary space as ‘most mobile phone interactions do not pack a powerful aesthetic punch either visually or aurally. The satisfaction they offer is located elsewhere.’ (Bassett, 2005 p42)

And of course, the space-making practice of mobile phone use is central: ‘Regarded as a practice of space, and as a practice that makes space, the mobile phone draws up the cultural conditions under which it itself is made, the species of space it engages, into itself: like a map, a dream, or even like a prayer might do.’ (Bassett, 2005 p46-47)

This will make you want to read more of Bassett.


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