Theorising media critically: Thinking after contemporaneity

Wark, Scott and Sutherland, Thomas (2022) Theorising media critically: Thinking after contemporaneity. In: Critique, post-critique, and the present conjuncture, 25 May, 2022, Université Paris Nanterre.

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Media research often feels behind the times. More than most other humanities disciplines, media studies is driven by the injunction to be contemporary: to not only keep pace with the cultures it studies, but to adopt their tools and methods. In this context, critical media theory is often characterized as lagging woefully behind the objects it studies.

In this paper, we offer a defence of patient, unabashedly-theoretical media scholarship. The idea that theory cannot keep pace with a rapidly-changing media environment uncritically reproduces an ideological imperative produced by media themselves. What critique needs, we suggest, is a much more sophisticated engagement with the epistemological conditions in which it is produced.

There are affordances contained within the traditional hardware of critical humanities which might actually allow us to gain critical distance from both our seemingly all-enveloping media environment and this overbearing concept of ‘contemporaneity’ itself. The question we, media scholars, must ask ourselves is: must we think at the speed of media change? Or is there critical purchase and scholarly value to be gained in asking, more precisely, how we might think media if we reject its tacitly contemporary and, above all, totalizing fictions? The value of critical, theoretical knowledge lies, we argue, precisely in its non-contemporaneity.

Keywords:media studies, critical theory, speed, acceleration, epistemology, critique
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:49620
Deposited On:04 Jul 2022 15:22

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