CFP: “Rethinking the distinction between old and new media”

Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest editors: Frederik Lesage (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Simone Natale (Loughborough University, UK)

Expected date of publication: August 2019

Since at least the early 1990s with the publication of groundbreaking works such as Manovich’s The Language of New Media, the rise of digital and online media into every facet of our lives has been conceptualized through distinctions between “new” and “old” media. Yet, scholars have recently started to criticize such concepts, arguing that they are inappropriate to describe media change and that they do not help improve our understanding of the relationship between different media in contemporary societies. Approaches to the biography and social life of media have examined how definitions of oldness and newness are attributed to technologies and artefacts throughout their lifetime, providing an interpretative model to rethink processes such as convergence, media encounters, and the transformations that media technologies and practices experience throughout time.

This special issue will further advance these reflections. It aims to illuminate places, cases, and contexts where distinctions between old and new media break down, and to propose alternative theoretical frameworks that redefine media change and the interaction between different media. Papers are invited that interrogate how changing definitions of old and new media inform the trajectory of specific media as well as their interrelations, moving away from rigid conceptions of oldness and newness to emphasise, instead, the persistent changes that characterise our relationship with media objects and technologies.

Potential topics:

The editors welcome contributions that explore questions such as:

  • How can we rethink media change beyond the old/new media and the analogue/digital media distinctions?
  • How can approaches to the biographies and social life of media contribute to the redefinition of approaches to “old” and “new” media?
  • How and in which contexts are specific media technologies and artefacts attributed the qualities of oldness and/or newness?
  • To what extent do definitions of old and new media change throughout time?
  • How do emotions such as nostalgia, enthusiasm for the new, etc. inform our definitions and perceptions of oldness and newness in regard with media?
  • What is the role of narratives and storytelling in these processes?
  • To what extent are newness and oldness employed as rhetorical tropes by specific groups and individuals to animate particular visions of technological change?
  • To what extent does the marketing and promotion of specific media products and technologies draw from representations of novelty and/or oldness?
  • What do we mean when we consider the potential “death” of media such as print books, cinema, or television?
  • Which research methods can be used to study media change and the encounter between different media technologies and practices throughout time?

Deadline for abstracts: 31th May 2018

Please send a 500-word abstract and a 100-word bio to the guest editors: and

Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to send full contributions by 31st October 2018