CSDH/SCHN Early Career Award: Carolyn Guertin

CSDH/SCHN is pleased to recognize Dr. Carolyn Guertin as the inaugural recipient of the Society’s Outstanding Early Career Award.

Carolyn Guertin is a committed and versatile scholar who is making a significant contribution to the field of digital media studies and digital humanities. She works across the contexts of the digital humanities and new media studies, and straddles the positions of critic/theorist and artist/producer. As a feminist scholar and practitioner, she has offered in her work to date a rare and important perspective on cyberculture, electronic literature, new media, and digital humanities. Approaching visual culture and media literacy from a global perspective, her scholarly activity spans a number of intersecting areas of inquiry ranging from the role of digital media in relation to popular culture, new media art, interfaces, interactive media, embodiment, and narrative. In other words, she takes up in theoretically savvy and always stimulating ways the wide range of forms in which human imagination and creativity have engaged with digital technologies.

Dr. Guertin has published a number of significant essays, and influentially contributed to the Blackwell Companion to Digital Literary Studies. She has also produced several coursebooks for the University of Athabasca Press. However, her most extensive contribution to date is her recently published book, Digital Prohibition: Piracy and Authorship in New Media Art. The book is published by Continuum Press, which also publishes Paolo Friere and Slavoj Žižek, underlining not only to quality of this work but also the sincerity of her outward-facing stance as a scholar and social critic. Continuum will give her work the wide exposure it merits.

Grounding her argument in the history of concepts of authorship and intellectual property law in Europe and North America, Dr. Guertin argues that the ongoing crackdown on piracy, hacking, and copying is best understood by analogy with the prohibition of alcohol in the earlier twentieth century and that this new prohibition is completely antithetical to the ethos and forms of digital creativity as well as the participatory and interactive twenty-first-century culture from which they emerge. However she also sees these as emerging from earlier creative cultures that were themselves also participatory and interactive. The study thus eschews easy oppositions between analog and digital culture, instead mounting a cogent and detailed argument that moves nimbly across a sg array of avant-garde artistic practices and popular forms to mount an impressive and compelling argument. As Michael Joyce comments, “in a heady and vibrant series of interlaced arguments and speculative forays, Guertin delivers on her promise to ‘explore . . . the potentialities in the social nature of electronic works—literary, artistic, and viral—to create new kinds of creative practices, and new spaces for the rise of alternative artistic, authorial or publishing models.’”

The Awards Committee, on behalf of CSDH/SCHN, is very pleased to recognize the excellent contribution to scholarship made by Dr. Carolyn Guertin. Her plenary talk was entitled “Breaking Eggs: Disruptive Technologies and Prototyping the Book.”