Gary Day on an exploration of new technologies’ effects on artists’ representation of the world: THE
If Hugh Kenner were alive, he might be a little aggrieved not to have received at least a mention in David Trotter’s Literature in the First Media Age. Kenner could be said to have pioneered the study of the relationship between Modernism and technology, Trotter’s theme. For example, in The Mechanic Muse (1987), Kenner showed the role the typewriter played in the poetry of Ezra Pound. True, Trotter’s focus is late rather than early Modernism and he might also claim, with some justice, that his interest is in how canonical and non-canonical writers resisted as well as registered “the technological mediation of experience”. All the same, he is not boldly going where no man has gone before. At the very least, Kenner anticipated his discussion of the way the telephone reconfigured personal relations. This is not to detract from Trotter’s achievement, and of course you can’t read everything, but Kenner’s book was such a landmark that it’s hard to see how it can have been overlooked.