Friday, November 16, 2007

Using electronic literature in the classroom

At last I've finally finished a draft of my essay about using electronic literature in the classroom. Subject to editorial review, the essay will appear as part of a project undertaken by Kate Hayles. In the essay I argue for the inclusion of electronic literature alongside offline story forms in the teaching of narrative theory. I've experimented with this in the past semester, perhaps not as extensively as I would have liked, but still it has been a start.

Using a wiki and having the laptops in the classroom has been crucial to this process from a pragmatic perspective. It's enabled me to embed a range of digital texts in the curriculum so that students can see them on the screen alongside their printed handouts. The texts I've used have been Minerva's blog: A Woman of Many Parts, In Search of Oldton, by Tim Wright, and Shelley Jackson's My Body. The texts have been analysed using many different frameworks, exploring narratives of personal experience (Labov), plot structure (Hoey) temporal sequencing (Genette), characterisation and narratorial reliability. In summary, I'd argue that using electronic literature has been useful for the following reasons:
  • It draws attention to the influence of medium, and facilitates transmedial comparison
  • The increased sensitivity to multimodality challenges the verbal hegemony of much narrative theorizing
  • The unfamiliar conventions of the hypertextual / blogging format enable students to question what 'narrative' entails, and to reflect on the assumptions of print culture that become so taken for granted as to be rendered invisible.
There's much more that I'd like to do with these kinds of texts, and I plan to integrate other examples in my language and gender module next semester. In the meantime, it has been great to see how students have embraced these new story forms and at least some will include them in their end of term assignments. I'll let you know how it goes.



Post a Comment

<< Home