CFP: Tokens and talismans in digital spaces: meaning in the absence of materiality

Materiality is shifting to the digital. We make photographs with our
digital devices, share them in social media spaces, and store them on hard
drives. Kodak no longer develops film, and even movie theaters are
converting to digital-only projection. Creating photo albums, once laid
open on the table to introduce a new acquaintance to the narrative of your
life, is an increasingly antiquated pastime. Yet the photo album is, as
Susan Stewart would consider it, similar to the souvenir. Stewart writes
that the “souvenir speaks to a context of origin through a language of
longing, for it is not an object arising out of need or use value; it is an
object arising out of the necessarily insatiable demands of nostalgia”

Photo albums, souvenirs, and talismans connect us to the past, and their
materiality is a link to another person, often a loved one. Can virtual
objects provide this sense of connection? How do these transitions from
material to digital transform the things we carry with us? If our
experiences are ephemeral, what and where are the objects that are
significant? Are tokens and talismans the last stronghold of materiality?
Does this shifting consciousness enable connection and attachment to
digital objects?

I am gathering submissions for an upcoming curated collection on tokens and
talismans in digital spaces for The New Everyday, a MediaCommons

The New Everyday is a platform for what is called “middle-state”
publishing, and it’s in-the-middle, or in-between, in more ways than one:

* Contributions are longer than a blog post, but shorter than a journal
article; they’re typically between 900 and 1500 words.

* Contributions represent ideas that are in-formulation, taking shape but
not yet fully formed; TNE offers an opportunity for you to think through a
project in public, and to solicit feedback from the MediaCommons community
as part of the process of developing your ideas.

* The public invested in these collaborative investigations ideally extends
beyond the academy to include other professionals with their own means of
engaging with the quotidian and “making the familiar strange”; thus, TNE
welcomes collections that mix scholars of media with scholars from other
fields of study, artists, technologists, legal and finance professionals,

If interested, please send a 200-250 word abstract and brief biographical
statement to Linda Levitt at by April 30, 2013.


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