On the Return of the (Media) Author: Michel Houellebecq, écrivain médiatique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article argues that Michel Houellebecq is an écrivain médiatique, a media author, and examines how and why he engages in a type of authorial strategy that relies on more than the text and presents the author as a multimedia, visible and culturally relevant figure. It will address how Houellebecq attempts to situate and justify this media-focused and author-centric strategy, showing how this reflects a broader sociocultural shift. The article will first deal with the concept of media authorship, defining and situating it, to show how Houellebecq can productively be understood as an écrivain médiatique. The type of authorship that Houellebecq represents through use of more than the text but media activities and opportunities for visibility presents us with an epistemological need to reassess literary authorship in the media age. This article engages with critical tools that are able to address new authorial strategies. Firstly, this article will address Jérôme Meizoz’s concept of posturing (2007) as a productive lens through which to understand Houellebecq's polemical public persona as it oscillates in and out of his novels. In doing so, the article considers how his posturing indicates a reliance on visibility for success in the contemporary sociocultural context. Secondly, the article examines the range of Houellebecq’s multimedia activities and creations beyond the text, including adaptations, albums, exhibitions, films, photography, and media appearances, decentring the text as part of a broader transmedial whole, using Richard Saint-Gelais’ concept of transmediality (2011). This will show how Houellebecq is producing a multimedia world beyond the text and constructing himself as more than an author. Finally, this article discusses the evocation of social discourse, to use Marc Angenot’s term (1989), in Houellebecq’s works as a means to present a digital and mass media orientated cultural context in order to justify and rationalise his media-focused acts. These tools provide a framework that enables us to better evidence and understand Houellebecq’s focus beyond the text. This strategy for successful authorship, reliant on mediatisation and multimedia, reflects the challenges of the cultural domination of mass media and new technologies of the Digital Age and indicates that the autonomy of the literary field is diminishing as it comes under the increased influence of industry, and other media forms and cultural fields. This article will show how a superficially transgressive engagement with the media and multimedia in fact reflects consent to the dynamics and values of the contemporary sociocultural context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Volume31
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted - 01 Jan 2020

Fingerprint

multimedia
mass media
mediatization
digital media
photography
domination
new technology
autonomy
Multimedia
Authorship
industry
discourse
evidence
Values
Visibility
Mass Media
Socio-cultural Context

Keywords

  • Media authorship
  • Popular Culture
  • Michel Houellebecq
  • Visual cultures
  • Contemporary Literature
  • French Literature
  • écrivain médiatique
  • sociological theory

Cite this

@article{daa09b0e09d544debe54b8d7ba3dce42,
title = "On the Return of the (Media) Author: Michel Houellebecq, {\'e}crivain m{\'e}diatique",
abstract = "This article argues that Michel Houellebecq is an {\'e}crivain m{\'e}diatique, a media author, and examines how and why he engages in a type of authorial strategy that relies on more than the text and presents the author as a multimedia, visible and culturally relevant figure. It will address how Houellebecq attempts to situate and justify this media-focused and author-centric strategy, showing how this reflects a broader sociocultural shift. The article will first deal with the concept of media authorship, defining and situating it, to show how Houellebecq can productively be understood as an {\'e}crivain m{\'e}diatique. The type of authorship that Houellebecq represents through use of more than the text but media activities and opportunities for visibility presents us with an epistemological need to reassess literary authorship in the media age. This article engages with critical tools that are able to address new authorial strategies. Firstly, this article will address J{\'e}r{\^o}me Meizoz’s concept of posturing (2007) as a productive lens through which to understand Houellebecq's polemical public persona as it oscillates in and out of his novels. In doing so, the article considers how his posturing indicates a reliance on visibility for success in the contemporary sociocultural context. Secondly, the article examines the range of Houellebecq’s multimedia activities and creations beyond the text, including adaptations, albums, exhibitions, films, photography, and media appearances, decentring the text as part of a broader transmedial whole, using Richard Saint-Gelais’ concept of transmediality (2011). This will show how Houellebecq is producing a multimedia world beyond the text and constructing himself as more than an author. Finally, this article discusses the evocation of social discourse, to use Marc Angenot’s term (1989), in Houellebecq’s works as a means to present a digital and mass media orientated cultural context in order to justify and rationalise his media-focused acts. These tools provide a framework that enables us to better evidence and understand Houellebecq’s focus beyond the text. This strategy for successful authorship, reliant on mediatisation and multimedia, reflects the challenges of the cultural domination of mass media and new technologies of the Digital Age and indicates that the autonomy of the literary field is diminishing as it comes under the increased influence of industry, and other media forms and cultural fields. This article will show how a superficially transgressive engagement with the media and multimedia in fact reflects consent to the dynamics and values of the contemporary sociocultural context.",
keywords = "Media authorship, Popular Culture, Michel Houellebecq, Visual cultures, Contemporary Literature, French Literature, {\'e}crivain m{\'e}diatique, sociological theory",
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On the Return of the (Media) Author: Michel Houellebecq, écrivain médiatique. / Harris, Ashley.

In: French Cultural Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, 01.01.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - On the Return of the (Media) Author: Michel Houellebecq, écrivain médiatique

AU - Harris, Ashley

PY - 2020/1/1

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AB - This article argues that Michel Houellebecq is an écrivain médiatique, a media author, and examines how and why he engages in a type of authorial strategy that relies on more than the text and presents the author as a multimedia, visible and culturally relevant figure. It will address how Houellebecq attempts to situate and justify this media-focused and author-centric strategy, showing how this reflects a broader sociocultural shift. The article will first deal with the concept of media authorship, defining and situating it, to show how Houellebecq can productively be understood as an écrivain médiatique. The type of authorship that Houellebecq represents through use of more than the text but media activities and opportunities for visibility presents us with an epistemological need to reassess literary authorship in the media age. This article engages with critical tools that are able to address new authorial strategies. Firstly, this article will address Jérôme Meizoz’s concept of posturing (2007) as a productive lens through which to understand Houellebecq's polemical public persona as it oscillates in and out of his novels. In doing so, the article considers how his posturing indicates a reliance on visibility for success in the contemporary sociocultural context. Secondly, the article examines the range of Houellebecq’s multimedia activities and creations beyond the text, including adaptations, albums, exhibitions, films, photography, and media appearances, decentring the text as part of a broader transmedial whole, using Richard Saint-Gelais’ concept of transmediality (2011). This will show how Houellebecq is producing a multimedia world beyond the text and constructing himself as more than an author. Finally, this article discusses the evocation of social discourse, to use Marc Angenot’s term (1989), in Houellebecq’s works as a means to present a digital and mass media orientated cultural context in order to justify and rationalise his media-focused acts. These tools provide a framework that enables us to better evidence and understand Houellebecq’s focus beyond the text. This strategy for successful authorship, reliant on mediatisation and multimedia, reflects the challenges of the cultural domination of mass media and new technologies of the Digital Age and indicates that the autonomy of the literary field is diminishing as it comes under the increased influence of industry, and other media forms and cultural fields. This article will show how a superficially transgressive engagement with the media and multimedia in fact reflects consent to the dynamics and values of the contemporary sociocultural context.

KW - Media authorship

KW - Popular Culture

KW - Michel Houellebecq

KW - Visual cultures

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KW - écrivain médiatique

KW - sociological theory

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JO - French Cultural Studies

JF - French Cultural Studies

SN - 0957-1558

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