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The politics of ornament: remediation and/in The Evergreen

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:07 authored by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra
In “towards a theory of the periodical genre,” Margaret Beetham observes that “the material characteristics of the periodical ... have consistently been central to its meaning” (22–23). In particular, Beetham emphasizes, “the elation of blocks of text to visual material is a crucial part of ” the periodical’s processes of signification and the reader’s experience of making meaning out of its time-stamped yet open-ended issues (24). While this theoretical position underlies much excellent critical work in periodical studies, it is less evident in the electronic repositories on which research in the field increasingly relies. In this paper, I examine what it might mean to inform our digitization practices with a theory of the periodical hypertext as a remediated object. Focusing on the specific editorial problem of periodical pages decorated with textual ornaments, I take as my case study The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal (1895 to 1897), a Scottish magazine scheduled for markup and publication on The Yellow Nineties Online. Making remediated Celtic ornament a structural feature of its aesthetic design and an integral expression of its larger political agenda, the Evergreen reminds us of what is at stake if our own electronic remediation practices are not adequate to the periodical objects we study.

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