On Teresa Dobson's Talk

Teresa Dobson presented The role of multimedia in critical literary and literary education on September 24th as part of the Humanities Computing Colloquium series.

The electronic world has given us the opportunity to create texts that act in different manners than those provided in the codex or book format, and/or are simply linear in progression. Electronic Literature, available through collections such as those in the Electronic Literature Organization's Electronic Literature Collection is becoming increasingly media intensive, including art and literature together rather than simply concentrating on the hypertext link, which was how much of electronic literature began. Instead of simply creating choose your own adventure type stories as presented through multiple hypertext links, these pieces of electronic literature often include sound, animation, text and other aspects that combine to create an apparent whole. As Teresa Dobson explained, this marks a trend in contemporary art, which is seen through such media as YouTub videos.

Interactive fiction, has risen and become a much greater factor in culture. For example, immersive game worlds have proliferated. Online one can also view the interaction between advertizing and such interactive fiction.

In Dobson's talk, I found the emphasis on bricolage with reference to creation of electronic literature fascinating. With the rise of attraction of bricolage in all media, not only the field of electronic literature, this certainly poses an attraction for the media form. In addition, literature has recently become more interactive. Folk literature, or texts created by the common people have become more and more prevalent in the forms of user created content, with the examples of wikis, YouTube videos and blogs. Often to create their content, users will incorporate content from various media. Texts such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice have often been incorporated into new creations, including such works as Austen, Jane, and Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2009. and works such as Pride and Prejudice expressed in Twitter. These new creations differ from movie adaptations of the work, because they derive new meanings and add aspects such as zombies and the electronic world to the text. Having created pastiches, non-traditional works, and chapbooks and been fascinated by Artist's Books and art installations, I enjoy the use of media in literature, and found the opportunity to examine e-literature in greater detail a natural progression following my attendance at Dobson's talk.

Dobson also spoke about students' experiences with literature both as readers and creators. An interesting opposition between the difficulty of reading electronic texts and the enjoyment of creating these same texts occurred in her research. Dobson indicated that digital reading is much akin to the experience of writing or creating a new work, and by having students experience this, they were better able to understand non-linear texts that were previously thought to be exceedingly difficult.

Would encouraging students to have greater experiences in the creation of non-traditional literature, not only electronic literature, but artist's books, chapbooks, pastiches, and user created content help students understand what are thought to be difficult works of literature? What Dobson presents indicates that exposure to the creation of electronic literature may in fact accomplish this.

Further information about some other aspects of what Dobson discussed in her lecture can be found in the following article: Luce-Kapler, Rebecca, and Teresa Dobson. In Search of a Story: Reading and Writing E-Literature. Reading Online. readingonline.org, 2005.