Digital Narrative, Holism, and the Romance of the Real

by Richard Coyne

July 1999
The MIT Press
A Leonardo Book
ISBN: 0-262-03260-0
384 pp.

"This is an excellent and most welcome study of the discourse about computer communications, their narrativity as Coyne says, with particular attention to the classic theme of unity and fragmentation." -- Mark Poster, Professor of History and of Information and Computer Science, University of California at Irvine

Many commentators place the computer--with its promises of interconnectivity, subversion of hierarchy, restoration of the tribe, revitalism of democracy, and new holism--at the pinnacle of scientific and technological accomplishment. Yet such narratives are grounded in the Enlightenment and romantic traditions. In this book Richard Coyne explores the spectrum of romantic narrative that pervades the digital age, from McLuhan's utopian vision of social reintegration by electronic communication to claims that cyberspace creates new realities.

Technoromanticism pits itself against a hard-headed rationalism, but its most potent antagonists are contemporary pragmatism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, surrealism, and deconstruction--all of which infect and subvert the romantic legacy and in turn provoke new narratives of computing. Thus the book also serves as an introduction to the application of contemporary theory to information technology, raising issues of representation, space, time, interpretation, identity, and the real. As such it provides a companion volume to Coyne's Designing Information Technology in the Postmodern Age: From Method to Metaphor (MIT Press, 1995).

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Updated 1 March 2012