Incorporating Technology: A Phenomenological Approach to the Study of Artefacts and the Popular Resistance to E-reading
Hayler, Matthew (Matt)
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable future publication of the research
This thesis considers the phenomenological experience of e-reading (reading on an electronic screen) as a way-in to discussing wider issues of technology and our encounter with objects in our environments. By considering the resistance shown toward reading on iPads and Kindles in popular and academic discourse as a source of valuable “folk phenomenological” report, this thesis hopes to shed light on both the particular engagement of portable e-reading and the general experience of embodied encounters with artefacts. The first chapter will consider the shortcomings of contemporary definitions of technology and aims to provide its own definition commensurate to the task of describing the intimate and very human encounter with equipment, an encounter which will be described as “technological.” In the second chapter an ontology (begun in the background of the first) will be developed which primarily considers our encounter with things that are as embodied as ourselves. This ontology sees evolution as an epistemological concern, with every evolutionary act occurring as a response to environmental pressures and producing a knowledge of that environment. This knowledge, it will be argued, in light of conclusions drawn from an engagement with Object Oriented Ontology, can be tested only via repeatable successful action with that which might be known. Such evolutionary concerns, it will be further argued, are equally applicable to our artefacts. The third chapter will focus on metaphor and critical theory to consider how e-reading in particular might function as a material metaphor, enabling productive thought. It will conclude with readings of three texts which put the language of all three chapters to work. This thesis draws on several fields, including Critical Theory, Cognitive Neuroscience, Evolutionary Epistemology, and Philosophy, the bringing together of which is intended to be of use to the still emerging Digital Humanities and the work's home discipline of English Studies as it gets used to the substantial alterations in the substrate of its object of study.
PhD in English