I’ve been working on the lecture I’m giving at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers at the end of August, and I want to enthuse about three books which I thought were great first time round, and are all even better second time round as I re-read them to write the lecture. They all look at the pervasiveness of mass online engagement, and they all argue strongly and convincingly that the last twenty years have seen profound changes in popular culture, and they all conclude from this that scholars interested in understanding that culture really need to engage with that pervasiveness, with the online and with the mass. A point that most cultural geographers seem to have missed, and which is my lecture in a nutshell. So a big thanks to:
John Hartley and his book Digital Futures for Cultural and Media Studies. This book goes first because it’s one of the very few academic books that have made me laugh out loud (because it’s deliberately funny, that is). I posted about it here after I read it the first time. It’s a very persuasive argument for looking at populations of images rather than single images.
Helen Grace and her book Culture, Aesthetics and Affect: The Prosaic Image. The first chapter is one of those where you start making notes and realise that you’re pretty much copying out the whole thing. An amazing and passionate argument for those populations of banal images being vital new form of mass cultural expression, written quite specifically from Hong Kong.
Nana Verhoeff and her book Mobile Screens: The Visual Regime of Navigation, which you can download for free here. Like Grace, Verhoeff explores the pervasiveness of digital screens, large and small, in the urban everyday, and argues for a new kind of spatiality that’s performed when we navigate through the spaces they offer us.