The Digital Plenitude: The Decline of Elite Culture and the Rise of New Media by Jay David Bolter surveys the transformation of American culture since the mid-twentieth century through two related trajectories: a change in class consciousness that no longer accepts elite cultural preferences as innately superior, and the emergence of digital media. The postwar decline of modernism spelled the end of “capital-C” Culture and the end of such confidently imposed value systems. This book elucidates what took its place: a media “plenitude” that has no stable hierarchy, sets no universal standards, and promotes no historical understanding.

Bolter identifies four dichotomies (or poles on four spectrums) that “can be thought of as aesthetic, social, or technological values or preferences” (84). These tensions structure his analysis of media and political culture. Flow, remix, procedurality, and simulation are the newer elements he discusses. Bolter's remarkably lucid argument traces the shift from cathartic...

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