Transdisciplinary Studies Show How Hybridity Crosses the Boundaries of Cultural Media

L'exposition "The boat is leaking. The captain lied" (Fondation Prada, Venise), Venice, Italy, June 26, 2017 | © Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr.
L'exposition "The boat is leaking. The captain lied" (Fondation Prada, Venise), Venice, Italy, June 26, 2017 | © Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr.

In a special issue of Open Cultural Studies entitled “Transmediating Culture(s)?” that appeared in 2017, Justyna Stępień and Beata Zawadka, as its guest editors, have brought together contributions from cinema, literary, visual, epistemological and cultural studies, to reflect on the place of transmedia in cultural production across its various genres.

A Guest Article by Justyna Stępień and Beata Zawadka.


“Transmediating Culture(s)?” explores innovative considerations, demonstrating the potentiality of transmediation processes in a wide range of fields with a variety of theoretical approaches adopted by the authors. The transdisciplinary character of the collection of essays embraces texts that cluster around the film, literary and visual studies, architecture and video games. However, as transmediation is all-encompassing and hybrid in its very nature, the texts open up different theoretical and practical perspectives, proving that cultural productions are always networked across various platforms and archives. In consequence, what emerges are multiple and ongoing processes of transmediation simultaneously correlated with the economic, social, cultural, psychological and technological praxes/units.

In their “Preface. Fabricating a Common Fiction Together,” Justyna Stępień and Beata Zawadka provide both a panoramic overview of this special issue’s topic, emerging from “the convergences of media, cultural values and experiences construct endless networks of meaning and interactive connections,” and its contributing authors profiles. Thus, Lauren Walden has inquired into the “Transmediality in Symbolist and Surrealist Photo-Literature,” while exploring how “[l]iterature, poetry, visual art and music superseded former hierarchical structures favouring the painterly [and how] […] text and image engender a sense of cosmopolitanism through the function of transposition.” Similarly, Xanthi Tsiftsi has juxtaposed “Libeskind and the Holocaust Metanarrative; from Discourse to Architecture,” in a paper that “examines the potential of this transmediation and addresses critical issues-the importance of the experience, the role of empathy and intersubjectivity, the association of emotions with personal and symbolic experiences-and ethical challenges of the transmedia “migration” of a story.”

In this respect, Barbara Braid has expounded on the connections between literature and cinema by concentrating on “The Frankenstein Meme: Penny Dreadful and The Frankenstein Chronicles as Adaptations,” because Mary Shelley’s novel “adapts itself to changing cultural contexts by replication with mutation.” Likewise, Lovorka Gruic Grmusa has followed ““Cinematic” Gravity’s Rainbow: Indiscernibility of the Actual and the Virtual: “There are worse foundations than film” (Pynchon 388),” in order to focus “on the influence and omnipresence of screen technologies, cinematography in particular, asserting its capacities to act as a dominant technological and cultural force, which surveys and controls the economy, affects human consciousness, and implements its own ideologically tainted reality.” Elizabeth Blakey has also pursued the topic of “Showrunner as Auteur: Bridging the Culture/ Economy Binary in Digital Hollywood,” as “[m]edia convergence, including cable and digital technologies, has disrupted traditional TV organisations and power brokers, bringing about a renaissance.”

By contrast, Anna Krawczyk-Łaskarzewska has decided to ““See My Heart”: Art and Alchemical Reasoning, or Character Transformation in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal,” since “[w]orks of art seem to be used more and more frequently in scripted TV shows nowadays […] [as] they constitute a symbolic point of reference, an intertextual “interlude,” or merely a convenient plot device.” This corresponds to Maren Lickhardt’s exploration of “Game Logic in the TV Series The Walking Dead: On Transmedial Plot Structures and Character Layouts,” to argue “that the series’ narration as a transmedial phenomenon is characterised by ludic logic, although interactive aspects are omitted due to the intermedial change from games to a TV series.” Likewise, Matteo Genovesi has reflected on “Choices and Consequences: The Role of Players in The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series,” in order to concentrate on “a narrative universe that wants to emphasize choice excitement and the active role of people can focus on video games, where the interactive approach is prominent.”

The volume, thus, demonstrates that with the convergences of media, cultural values and experiences construct endless networks of meaning and interactive connections that need to be analyzed as interventions in and into the process of transposition.

Written by Justyna Stępień and Beata Zawadka

Edited by Izabella Penier and Pablo Markin.


Featured Image Credits: L’exposition “The boat is leaking. The captain lied” (Fondation Prada, Venise), Venice, Italy, June 26, 2017 | © Courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr.


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