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Professor Tania Gentic’s The Everyday Atlantic

August 20th, 2014

It is difficult to sift through the glut of opinions on the destiny of the blogosphere. In education and politics the impact of digital knowledge is difficult to discern amidst voices of tragedy and triumph. Perhaps it is too soon to tell? Where can we look for a more well-informed perspective?

Reflection on this topic suffers from a lack of context. There must be other times and places to look toward for a better understanding of where the Internet might be taking us. Georgetown Professor Tania Gentic’s new book, The Everyday Atlantic, offers some much-needed insight through her analysis of daily newspaper chronicles in the twentieth-century Atlantic world. She, in fact, describes these chronicles as “a print precursor to the blog… a daily or weekly literary genre that straddles fiction and nonfiction… common to Spanish-, Portuguese-, and Catalan-language newspapers (2).” She takes these blog precursors and asks what they can tell us about their everyday readers; how we might best understand their subjectivity.

She describes these subjects as “palimpsestic,” deeply layered, like a medieval manuscript where the original text was erased to be written over again and again. These subjects, indeed, are “enmeshed in multiple and often ephemeral ways of knowing at the same time (3).” This way of looking at the texts unseats simple notions of knowledge being used as a univocal tool of dictatorial or colonial power. It rings true, I think, with avid Internet users who might start each day with a window full of tabs, each expressing its own narrative and identity. Users who themselves might identify with the notion that they are not static receptacles for knowledge, who experience themselves as being “in flux,” in the moment (6).

With an analysis that moves from print news to digital and from chroniclers (cronistas) to bloggers, Professor Gentic provides a grounded and thought-provoking study with great relevance for those interested in digital knowledge.

The Everyday Atlantic: Time, Knowledge, and Subjectivity in the Twentieth-Century Iberian and Latin American Newspaper Chronicle is available from the State University of New York Press on their website.

Joshua Canzona

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