Reveling in the language and logic of markup thrown into relief by digital media, Carey’s essay calls for a renewed scholarly focus on the material histories of markup encoded in literary and cultural history. The essay relocates Ambrose Bierce’s stylistic operations at the intersection of literary and media history, drawing attention to what contemporary German media theorists refer to as cultural techniques, a complex term that combines an attention to media with a focus on the elementary techniques (reading, writing, and counting) that historically and logically precede the aesthetic distinctions they generate. Drawing on archival material related to Bierce’s experience as a topographical engineer in the Civil War—maps, telegrams, circulars, and other official war documents—Carey reengages Bierce’s style in a mutually constitutive relationship with the cultural techniques that marked it up. In the midst of media, the idiosyncratic mark of Bierce’s style emerges not only as an aesthetic quality, but also as a strategically deployed technology for tagging, marking, and remixing points and properties on paper. The essay reminds us that procedures of markup are not new, only newly mediated by different techniques and technologies.
1 December 2013
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Craig Carey; <A> And <B>: Marks, Maps, Media, and the Materiality of Ambrose Bierce’s Style. American Literature 1 December 2013; 85 (4): 629–660. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2367301
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