Fabrizio Deriu

Panel Theories and Philosophies of Transcodification/2
Session 3 – July 2, 11:00 – 13:00

  Transcodification Between Electracy And Performance. An Insight Into Gregory Ulmer’s “Applied Grammatology”

This paper aims to put the conference theme in relation to Ulmer’s thinking on what he has called “applied  grammatology”  and  electracy.  Gregory  Ulmer  is  Professor  Emeritus  of  English  and  Media Studies at the University of Florida; author of books such as Applied  Grammatology  (1985), Internet Invention (2003), Electronic Monuments (2006). Continuously nurturing a pedagogical interest, Ulmer devoted his research to explore the shift in the apparatus from orality to literacy, and from literacy to electracy. According to him, new media were affecting our moment the way print affected Renaissance Europe, or the way the alphabet affected Ancient Greece. Grammatology -­‐ the history and theory of writing – «shows that one of the first uses of a new technology of memory is the recording of the extant works of culture: Homeric epics inscripted in Ancient Greece; Bible printed in Renaissance Europe; novel filmed in modern America. The content of the  new  media,  McLuhan  observed,  is  the  old  media»  (Ulmer  2003:  4).  Here,  an  overlapping  of transcodification and re-­‐mediation can be easily singled out. Nevertheless, we continue to reproduce Aristotelian categories (which is fine for literacy), when what our civilization needed was the equivalent of literacy for what is now called new media: they were becoming  a  predominant  site  of  cultural  life,  and  people  needed  not  just  to  consume  media,  but become “literate” in media. So Ulmer introduced the term electracy to describe the kind of “literacy” or skill  and  facility  necessary  to  exploit  the  full  communicative  potential  of  new  electronic  media. Moreover, he suggests that «performance may be to electracy what definition was to literacy» (38). If this sentence makes any sense, we should take for serious the Biopetics/Literary Darwinism assumption that the basic forms of experience which narratives always expose us to are re-­‐enactment, repetition, and re-­‐writing  – namely, kinds of performance behaviors (Cometa 2017).


(Ph.D., “Sapienza” -­‐ University of Rome, Italy). Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Teramo, Italy. Member of the Board of the Ph.D. Programme in “Music and Performing Arts”, “Sapienza” -­‐ University of Rome. Main fields of interest: Performance Studies; actors and acting in 2oth and 21st Centuries theatre, film and audiovisual media. Author of five books (among them: Gian MariaVolonté.Illavorod’attore, 1997; Performático.  Teoria  delle  arti  dinamiche, 2012; Mediologia  della  performance, 2013); and several essays in peer-­‐ reviewed  journals  and/or  edited  collections;  editor  and  translator  for  Italian  collections  of  essays  by  Richard Schechner  (Magnitudini  della  performance,  1999)  and  Diana  Taylor  (Performance,  politica  e  memoria  culturale, Artemide, 2019). Papers presented in various national and international conferences. Member of the Scientific Committee  of  “La  Valigia  dell’Attore”  (Theatre&Film  Festival  dedicated  to  Italian  Actors)  where  he  acts  as assistant in acting workshops.