literature and digital illlumination


A mindset-change is necessary

For better or worse, text and technology are merging—a movement which fosters attitudes of anxiety and optimism.

On the one hand, some fear that digital media will fundamentally change the value of the printed text as an object of study and as a means of production, in essence making it incomprehensible or obsolete.

On the other hand, the book that "becomes" digital or takes advantage of new media can be restored, with expanded relevance, to a worldwide audience, including today's literature students.

HTML from "The Waste Land" Hypertext
(image redesigned from Batelle, 2005)

hyper book

In order for English departments to share the wealth of computer resources in teaching, there needs to be a change in the mindset of many literature teachers. Literature scholars need to realize that digital media is not the property of composition studies alone, just as writing itself is not. Students can develop arguments and analyses with digital composition just as they can with print texts and traditional writing. Literary studies has everything to gain from recognizing that technology supports valid forms of reading and composition.

New media improves both aspects of student engagement:
1. Reception: taking advantage of online literary and extra-literary resources
2. Production: composing texts with digital media