Electronic literature: new horizons for the literary

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University of Notre Dame, Mar 1, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 223 pages
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Q. How did you like the book?
A. It was way too deep for me. I understood maybe half of it.
Q. What was it about?
A. Katherine has studied and written on the genre of electronic literature, based on computers. Here she compares and contrasts it with print media. She shows how the medium changes the message, the message can change the medium, and both can change the readers.
Q. Is it worth reading?
A. I'd say this is an academic book, not for the general reader. Most of the citations are academic journals or press publications. But on the other hand, the public would be interested in the subject matter, electronic literature. As Katherine tactfully points out, younger people would be more comfortable with this emerging genre than older people accustomed to the printed page. Actually, a compact disk with some of the electronic literature is included in the book, and it is very interesting. It would take some time to really see what is going on in this new genre. Also, I liked the way Katherine elucidated the act of reading, the sub-vocalizing of the text and how this is disrupted by some electronic literature. She points out how learning bodily skills is entirely different from reading about them. Say reading about how to ski and then trying to actually ski. This is all very informative. Katherine believes that electronic literature will be more ephemeral than print literature.
Q. Why is that?
A. Because computer software and hardware change all the time, and what is written today may not be translatable by next year or thenceforth. But I noted that really all literature, and all life itself, share this quality of being ephemeral. What changes is the time scale. Some books have been around a long time, like the Bible. Individual people rarely live past 100. Even the sun will one day die, as Eckhart Tolle notes. So being ephemeral is just relative, as time itself is.
Q. Quite the philosopher, are we?
A. I wish.

Review: Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary

User Review  - Jeff - Goodreads

I found the introductory chapter interesting, as it describes and locates the discussion of computer technology in the evolving literary landscape. I'd recommend to stop reading there. The following ... Read full review


The Body and the Machine 87
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About the author (2008)

N. Katherine Hayles "is professor of literature at Duke University.

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