Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Unbundling of Discourse: How Digitalization Can Open the Scholarly Text and the Practices of Academic Communication

Dr Tim Luke.

The paper compares and contrasts the nature of scholarly text generation and academic communication in a print regime vs. a digital regime of production. Print’s material qualities have led to a closed, bundled process of text production and consumption due to its costs, relative permanence, and modes of archiving. Digital texts are more open, flexible, and ephemeral, which allows them to become comparatively more open registers of scholarly, critical, editorial, production, design, and archival labor. In addition, their electronic mode of reception allows readers, users, or archivers to register reactions, responses, or revisions along with string of parallel contribution from other workers in the cycle of text generation. Digital texts’ materiality is such that the nature of scholarly texts can change, evolve, aand shift with their users collaborative interactions with the text as such, with each other through the text, or with other authorial units’ networked together through digital texts.
Who does what, where, when, why, and how all can be attached to the text as digital reproduction allows a comparative openness to unfold with scholarly communication. Closed print discourses often reflected closed intellectual guilds and a more limited, slower circulation of knowledge. Digitalization allows for a more rapid and widespread circulation of texts through many varied networks of knowledge, and the nature of academic labor itself along with the once more closed professions that organize it is changing along with the change in the modes of scholarly or academic text generation. In turn, the academic text as a digital document becomes something that must change with the underlying digital regime of production. Once printed, it will not last for decades or centuries. Instead it turns into an artifact that requires more continuous care and upkeep to remain accessible for machine-readability and human access. How the text is being unbundled, who is unbundling it, and what this unbundling means for scholarly authors and academic authority are the key questions that this paper raises.


Dr Tim Luke  (United States)
Program Chair, Government and International Affairs
Department of Political Science
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Timothy W. Luke is University Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. He also is the
Program Chair for Government and International Affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs, the Executive Director of the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning,, and he serves as Co-Director of the Center for Digital Discourse and Culture in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. His most recent books are CAPITALISM, DEMOCRACY, AND ECOLOGY: DEPARTING FROM MARX (University of Illinois Press, 1999), THE POLITICS OF CYBERSPACE, ed. with Chris Toulouse (Routledge, 1998), and ECOCRITIQUE: CONTESTING THE POLITICS OF NATURE, ECONOMY, AND CULTURE (University of Minnesota Press, 1997). His latest book, MUSEUM POLITICS: POWERPLAYS AT THE EXHIBITION was published in Spring 2002 with the University of Minnesota Press.

  • Scholarly Communication
  • Digital Discourse
  • Writing as Labor
  • Publishing Production
  • Text Reception and Use

(PlenarySpeaker, English)