Digital Humanities 2.0? Exploring Creative Practice in the Transmedia Age

My proposed paper draws on an AHRC-funded collaboration between games developers Slingshot and myself, as part of the Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technology (REACT) KT hub, which commenced in January 2013. As part of REACT’s ‘Books & Print’ Call, our partnership sought to leverage digital technologies in order to innovate new forms of textuality and narrative in a transmedia context. Taking Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) as our inspiration, we have been transforming this Victorian gothic story into a new pervasive media game for a twenty-first-century audience.

The tale’s preoccupation with science, technology and human identity is being echoed in current debates on convergence culture, cybernetics and ‘Humanity 2.0’, particularly the work of Henry Jenkins, N. Katherine Hayles and Steve Fuller. Moreover, new media present both creative practitioners and textual scholars opportunities to reconceive the relationship between originality and derivation as a complex, not to mention contested, practice—evidenced in the oppositional positions recently adopted in favour of ‘remix’ as the new creative modality (Lawrence Lessig) and against the submersion of individual creativity by the ‘crowd’ (Jaron Lanier).

Taking these contexts as my starting point, my paper will explore the opportunities and challenges offered by the intersections between literary criticism, digital creativity and posthumanist theory. These cultural readings will be complemented by a more reflective component that draws on my personal experiences of working on our pervasive media project, which combines digital technology with narrative innovation, Jekyll 2.0: Embodying the Gothic Text (Storyfied @ http://tinyurl.com/azmz3yj). In so doing, I hope to discuss the possibilities available to digital humanities practitioners to expand our disciplinary practice into a new creative modality that draws upon the expertise and perspectives that our field provides: what might be termed, ‘Digital Humanities 2.0’.