About Alex Mueller
My current book project, Veni, Vidi, Wiki: A Prehistory of Digital Textuality, examines the premodern principles that inform digital writing, such as blogging, wiki editing, and social networking. Models for these collaborative productions of knowledge are centuries old, originating in early medieval practices for collecting and organizing information about the natural world in manuscripts that could be expanded, glossed, and illustrated by and for an increasingly popular and multilingual readership. From the eleventh century onwards, the scholars who produced this academic work were trained in multiple modes of discourse, including vernacular translation, encyclopedic compilation, academic debate, interpretive commentary, and letter writing. To determine how these premodern textual practices have shaped the hypertextual character of digital environments, I have organized my project according to their shared literary modes: translation, compilation, disputation, elaboration, and communication. While vast differences – particularly regarding speed and access – clearly exist between medieval and digital textualites, the prevalence of these dialectical ways of knowing suggest that pre-Enlightenment notions of originality, authority, correctness, and collectivity reemerge within the popular, collaborative, dynamic, and hypertextual spaces that have come to define 21st century Internet culture. Ultimately, this project brings medieval and digital studies into dialogue through the shared challenges they offer to entrenched notions of academic expertise and the authority of the printed book.