Monster Theory 2.0

Remix, the Digital Humanities, and the Limits of Transgression

Authored by: Megen de Bruin-Molé

The Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities

Print publication date:  February  2021
Online publication date:  February  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367361426
eBook ISBN: 9780429355875
Adobe ISBN:


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Monstrous metaphors abound in remix and new media scholarship. Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss paints remix as “a coevolving, oscillating membrane of user-generated content (conversational media) and mass media.” 1 For David Gunkel, remix is a Frankensteinian creation: “the monstrous outcome of illegitimate fusions and promiscuous reconfigurations of recorded media that take place in excess of the comprehension, control, and proper authority of the ‘original artist.’” 2 Wendy Hui Kyong Chun highlights how, in digital networked culture, “individual actions coalesce bodies into a monstrously connected chimera.” 3 Monstrosity and transgression, however, are slippery subjects in twenty-first century digital culture. If we take postmodernism at its word—rarely a stable strategy, but here a useful experiment—transgression has long since “run its course, become absorbed or exhausted within a new world order of a generalized homogeneity of signs, commodities, bodies, informational flows.” 4 As Marxist critic David McNally writes, “it is a paradox of our age that monsters are both everywhere and nowhere,” 5 absorbed into the everyday monstrosities of late capitalist existence. Similarly, remix, that “monstrous hybrid,” 6 seems both everywhere and nowhere in twenty-first-century digital culture.

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