New book forthcoming: Digital Culture and the Hermeneutic Tradition Suspicion, Trust, and Dialogue

New book coming out by Lucie Chateau and me, scheduled for July 24! It will be available in open access and hardcover.

In our information age, deciding what sources and voices to trust is a pressing matter. There seems to be a surplus of both trust and distrust in and on platforms, both of which often amount to having your mindset remain the same. Can we move beyond this dichotomy, towards new forms of intersubjective dialogue? This book revaluates the hermeneutic tradition for the digital context. Today, hermeneutics has migrated from a range of academic approaches in to a plethora of practices in digital culture at large. We propose a ‘scaled reading’ of such practices: a reconfiguration of the hermeneutic circle, using different tools and techniques of reading. We demonstrate our digital-hermeneutic approach through case studies including toxic depression memes, the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, and r/changemyview. We cover three dimensions of hermeneutic practice: suspicion, trust, dialogue. This book is essential reading for (under)graduate students in digital humanities and literary studies.


I am not aware of another book that makes as strong and well-founded a claim for the relevance of humanistic thought on discussions of digital disinformation and bias usually dominated by social scientists, computer scientists, and journalists. A very original work that brings the long history of European hermeneutical thought to bear on online trust, skepticism, and dialogue in today’s “platform hermeneutics.” And the book is great fun too in its inventive use of AI and machine learning to analyze case studies on Tumblr, Reddit, and elsewhere.

 Alan Liu, Distinguished Professor, University of California Santa Barbara, USA


In the world of digital communication, researchers – and ordinary users alike – have to deal with a situation of information overload. The abundance of data is certaintly a great opportunity for in-depth knowledge of social processes, but the risk of “drowning” in it, is ever-present. This insightful book by Inge van de Ven and Lucie Chateau discusses how scholars of digital culture and society can extricate themselves from this information abundance trap, by recuperating the hermeneutic tradition of close reading, qualitative analysis and in-depth interpretation, and deploying it to address the new materials of contempoary digital culture: tweets, online videos, internet memes, conversations of all sorts. A recommended reading for those searching for methods to understand the symbolisms and meanings of contemporary digital cultures.

 Paolo Gerbaudo, Senior Researcher in Social Science, Complutense University in Madrid, Spain