On the Capabilities of Media: Towards a Poetics. Close Reading and the Capabilities of a Medium
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The close reading of cultural artifacts–including texts, as is now increasingly recognized–requires that one pay explicit attention to their medium in its historicity, which also involves the interactions with other media that any given medium always implies. This proposition can usefully be explored by a detailed consideration of a reduced number of historical artifacts, political, artistic or literary, whose status in terms of media, which we tend to overlook, in part (at least) as a result of our overfamiliarity with them, is constitutive of their effect. The challenge for us is to acknowledge the capabilities of any new medium as it co-emerge with a new political or cultural formation, even if its actualization in history, in close proximity to questions of genre, turns out to have been only fleeting.