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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Book history, media studies, and digital humanities have foregrounded the physical medium of texts and have shown special interest in the rise of digital media. This essay acknowledges the value of these disciplines but also points to their limitations as sites for analyzing reading. Scholars should not draw conclusions about reception based on a work’s medium of presentation. The comprehension process, as described in cognitive psychology, provides a powerful alternative for understanding reading; psychologists have argued for the existence of general comprehension skills that operate across media. Whatever the origin of a text, comprehension occurs in the same medium, the mind of the reader. The study of reading in the humanities needs to separate itself from the disciplines with which it is usually associated (book history and media studies) because these mask critical aspects of the reading process.

Keywords: media studies, reading, comprehension, episodic memory, semantic memory, technological determinism, Marshall McLuhan

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