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The Companion Website: An Intermedial Paratext as Supplement

Gastvortrag von James Deaville (Carleton University) am 18. Dezember um 15:00 im Seminarraum des Instituts (1. Stock).

The Companion Website: An Intermedial Paratext as Supplement?


James Deaville
Carleton University


For musicologists, publishers’ companion websites perform important functions, allowing the reader to hear (and, in the case of opera or film, to see) musical examples referenced in a hardcopy book. Despite the growing number of such websites and their attractiveness for publishers, musicological research has yet to address their position and functions within the publishing enterprise, not to mention the ontological status of the websites. This gap in our understanding of the intermediality between supporting websites and their “host” texts invites a critical question: What is the theoretical nature of the relationship between the companion website and the printed book it accompanies?

This paper draws upon the thought of Genette and Derrida to argue for the companion website as an intermedial paratext to the associated published book, an apparent supplement in the Derridean sense. The paratext can most generally be designated as “the variety of materials that surround a literary text” (Gray 2010: 6). If paratexts “function as introductory, explanatory etc. material that forms a ‘threshold’ to the main text of the work” (Wolf and Bernhart 2007: 20), and if we agree with Chapple and Kattenbelt that “the intermedial is a space where… we are inbetween and within a mixing of spaces, media and realities” (2006: 12), then the companion website to a printed book on music could be regarded as its intermedial paratext. Yet Gray argues that “much of the textuality that exists in the world is paratext-driven” (2010: 46); hence is it possible that the multi-sensoriness of the paratextual website, the supplement—with its sounding music—might actually “drive” the mute book? The answer resides within arguments regarding music’s supplementarity to its performance (Abbate 1991: 18). The paper explores the ontology of the companion website through representative examples for music books by OUP, Routledge, and Norton.

James Deaville (School for Studies in Art & Culture: Music, Carleton University) has contributed to the Journal of the American Musicological Society and Journal of the Society for American Music, among others, and has published in books by presses that include Oxford, Cambridge, and Routledge. He also edited Music in Television: Channels of Listening (2011) and co-edited a special issue of Music and Politics (Summer 2015). In 2012, he received a threeyear grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to explore film trailer auralities. He is currently co-editing the collection Music and the  Broadcast Experience with Christina Baade for Oxford University Press.

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