Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Entries Tagged as 'e-literature'

An Education for Instability

July 16th, 2014 · 4 Comments

In his article “A Curriculum for the Future”, Gunther Kress writes that a radical shift in thinking and curriculum in ELA classrooms is due to occur in response to the different needs of the contemporary adult in 21st century society. He states that the world has changed so much that the 19th century model of education is just not applicable anymore. Kress calls for a shift in curriculum from an education for stability to one for instability:

“Associated with this are the new media of communication and, in particular, a shift (parallelling all those already discussed) from the era of mass communication to the era of individuated communication, a shift from unidirectional communication, from a powerful source at the centre to the mass, to multidirectional communication from many directions/locations, a shift from the ‘passive audience’ (however ideological that notion had always been) to the interactive audience. All these have direct and profound consequences on the plausible and the necessary forms of education for now and for the near future.” (138)

The notion of a multi-directional communication and a shift to an interactive audience is what stands out for me in Kress’ assertion. As such, I have designed an activity for use in an ELA classroom that allows students to be creators and participators in such a communication. Using a variety of online tools, students are able to work collaboratively to create a co-authored product. The product can be inspired by whatever you are currently studying in your class—it could have a thematic or topical connection to a literary text, or it could simply be a pre-writing exercise begun with a prompt. The only stipulation is that the activity be carried out in silence thus disturbing the notion of passivity and activity, telecommunication and proximity, and the product of the individual vs. that of the group. So far in this class we have explored the following topics:

• modes of representation in ELA classroom/21st century literacy
• visual literacy and rhetoric
• media literacy
• social media and the notion of participation
• new literary forms/e-literature
• computer mediated communication
• gaming

I also designed this activity to address pieces of all of the things we have discussed thus far in regards to these topics.

In a group setting, students will work in silence to participate in a back channel conversation while they co-author a textual document with a particular purpose. This purpose may be nebulous or fixed. The backchannel application I use is Today’s Meet and the document will be created in Google docs. Each student will be invited to share the document and simultaneous editing will be possible. Google docs also has a “chat” capability which may or may not be used. I will begin the class by explaining the task and the “rules” as well as work with the students to determine the loose direction of the task. Once we have a sort of trajectory, we will begin and allow the interaction to take us where we will. The backchannel and the doc will be projected on the screen for all to witness (though it occurs to me that maybe just the backchannel might be appropriate). After the time is up, we will take the product (the created text) and render it in a text visualization tool. A teacher could then take this one step further and have the students create a found poem from the word cloud that serves as their reflection on the task.

After I execute this today, I will post the products as an exemplar.

Works Cited:

Kress, G. (2000). A curriculum for the future. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 133-145.

The Products:


Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 3.45.43 PM

The Today’s Meet chat transcript was lost to the ether but, interestingly, the group chose to communicate via in-doc Google chat instead.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · e-literature · Lesson Plans · multiliteracies · Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media · Visual Literacy · Weblog Activities

Robb Ross: Commentary 2: Unsworth article and presentation

July 13th, 2014 · No Comments

Our group had some difficulty with the Unsworth article and of even understanding what E-Literature is. At first it seemed too nebulous of a topic. Even mid-presentation, my group-member Peter disagreed with one of my definitions of E-Literature. However, in the end, I discovered that I have previously engaged my students with forms of E-Literature, while some of the IB Assessments I have conducted involved aspects of it. So while I was at first somewhat dismissive of its meaning and value, it turns out I’m actually a proponent. My involvement with this presentation provided me with some ideas and resources with which to more effectively integrate E-Literature into future lessons.

E-Literature involves the “comprehension and composition of images and text” (Unsworth, 2008, p. 62). I see this enriching the understanding and engagement of texts through a two-stage process. First, I would use text and/or images to facilitate understanding and knowledge of the text. For example, in the past I’ve used sites such as (a paid resource site of which I’m a member) to access what Unsworth defines as “fairly traditional lesson plans and tasks for teachers to download,” a category he defines as “Interpretation/Response” (Unsworth, 2008, p. 69). Another aspect of E-Literature that belongs to this category involves the use of online forums to discuss texts (Unsworth, 2008).  In the past I have used discussion forums on the Moodle course website, to positive effect. This involved creating five discussion questions about the text, and asking students to respond. Any student can respond to any other students’ comments. This was an invaluable tool that allowed the students to express their opinions of the text outside of class time.

The second stage (in my view) involves evolving from understanding and comprehension to creation. Unsworth suggests that students “…write stories in the style of particular narratives, sometimes additional episodes” and contribute “… the creation of images” among other possibilities (Unsworth, 2008, p. 69). In the past I’ve engaged students in activities that could have been further exploited   including elements of E-Literature. For example, one official IB assessment requires students to add an additional scene to a play, write letters between characters in a play, or change genres and write an additional scene of the play as a short story. While the focus is on fostering creativity, this assignment exists in isolation. A collaborative extension could be for students to select images associated with these texts and post their work online for the entire class to see and respond to. As well, other students could continue, for example, adding to the additional scene in the play.

I thought as a first attempt our group’s hyperlink workshop went reasonably well. However, it became quite clear that our lack of parameters and constraints resulted in our classmates mainly posting irreverent images. In a real class situation, I would have to add some constraints so that such a lesson had more value. As well, I would clearly assign certain students a stanza or passage of a text to ensure there isn’t overlap.

On a final note, I forgot to mention that E-Literature somewhat reminded of a book series I read as a kid titled Choose Your Own Adventure. In this series the point of view is in the second person ‘you’ giving the reader empowerment over the text. Every few pages, you got to choose the direction of the story from three or so prompts,  with numerous illustrations in the books. To me, Choose Your Own Adventure seemed like the print precursor to a form of E-Literature. I Googled it, and sure enough, there is an online ChooseYourStory that includes several of the kinds of features of E-Literature outlined by Unsworth. The site describes itself as:

… a community-driven website centered on Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style storygames. Members create their own storygames, read and comment on other members’ storygames, participate in the forum, and improve their writing ability. (ChooseYourStory, 2014)

ChooseYourStory would seem to have embraced the spirit of the original print version while using the internet to expand opportunities for collaboration, expression, and developing writing skills.

 Works Cited

ChooseYourStory. (2014). Retrieved from, English Teaching Online. (2014). Retrieved from

Unsworth, L. (2008). Multiliteracies, E-Literature and English Teaching. Language and Education, 22, 62-75. Retrieved from



Tags: e-literature

An E-Literature Experiment

July 11th, 2014 · No Comments

I decided to experiment with the activity we completed in class today on the UBC Wiki space. Here’s what I created:

Tags: e-literature · hypertext fiction

Harry Potter: the Bastion of 21st Century Narratives?

July 9th, 2014 · 2 Comments


My Grandpa used to own a carpet store in Winnipeg. He used to refer to himself as the “Carpet King of the North.” During his promotional days in the 80s, he would unroll a 112 foot red carpet from the sidewalk on Maclean Avenue and right into a giant, regal chair in his store. When I was a young fat, child, he  used to tell me that within all of us are two people. One is a devil figure who makes you selfish, angry and critical. The other is the one who wants to connect with people and make the world a better place. He would have called this “God’s” will. I will quickly speak with the voice of the Devil’s will and then I will speak with God’s Will and then go back to the Devil’s will again.

Devil’s will: Unsworth begins his article  with, ” …J.k. Rowling’s Harry Potter books confirms the enduring capacity of literary narratives to engage the enthusiasm of young people in the 21st Century.” (62) Why Harry Potter? Why do we need to sell narratives with Harry Potter? I would like to believe that I spent a good part of my life reading because narratives speak to us as people and we are hard wired through our DNA to learn through narratives. I read because I want to know more about the world and myself. Is Harry Potter the best confirmation of our interest in narratives this century? When we justify the importance of books through some potboiler fantasy, it retards our understanding of our relationship with narratives.

Everything we know is a narrative. The Big Bang theory, Evolution, Jesus, Mohammed, The Big Crunch, Terry Fox’s run across the country, Santa on Christmas eve, Joan of Arc, The Grand narrative, Odysseus, Bathsheba, Hitler’s Death, the construction of the Great Wall. These are all stories. And we are all stories. We all tell our stories to ourselves and others. We defend ourselves in court through stories, we pay 200 dollars an hour to tell our stories to our shrinks, we tell stories at our funerals, weddings and anniversaries. Stories make up who we are. Sales people and marketers pitch us with sad or happy stories; most video games contain a beginning and an end. We listen to the humble stories of our beloved politicians. We paint stories. We sing stories in our music. We tell our children bed time stories. What is Facebook if not a story? No Unsworth, what confirms the enduring capacity of literary narratives to engage the enthusiasm of young people isn’t Harry Potter. What confirms this capacity is pretty much every discipline, hobby, interaction and branch of knowledge we study today – not Harry Potter.

God’s Will: Unsworth does a great job in his analysis of how e-literature has the potential to enrich our experiences with stories. I like how he outlines the potential experiences of reading a book and its resources online. Because we read, listen to and tell stories in multiple different forms everyday, I found it very interesting to read Unsworth’s delineation of our experiences in stories.

Because I want to get some of these aspects into my long term memory, I want to record and comment on these experiences.

1.) Story/Genesis: 

We all wonder about the beginning of a story. Where did it come from. When did it start? After all, the story of Genesis is probably the best selling narrative in the world’s history. In an online platform, I think students could really access this quicker than the traditional “About the Author” at the end of a book. It’s quick access and immediate hook. The more we know and can relate to a story, the more engaged most of us will be.

2.) Invitation 

Access and sampling. Marketers have been using this to sell for years. Why else would Janga? be popular? How about Dominoes? Seriously. Somewhere, sometime people were deliberately invited to these games. These invitations created relationships with these games. Kids deserve stories for the sake of stories. We all need an invitation to a good thing. This medium is fast and easy.

3.) Appreciation/Celebration

This is so important. By celebrating stories, we celebrate ourselves. Online forums and communities will never replace the connections we need as human beings. But whatever. Celebration is usually a good thing.

4.) Interpretation and Response 

This is useful for students who are always online searching for information online. In my experience, students on the internet have multiple windows open at once. To have them interpreting and responding consciously to complex narratives will only help them to interpret and respond to spam and harmful information in a more skillful way. This is good.

5.) Adjunct Creation/Composition 

This is why I love the internet and dislike television. Taking an active role in the composition of our narratives is not only  empowering, but just plain interesting. The more we invite each other to create our own stories, the more we invite each other to connect to our strengths and preferences and work through and update our own stories.

In the end, this article got me thinking about my own stories and the stories of my students. And the more stories we know, the smarter we are considered to be.  Thank you for making me Smarter, Unsworth. I’ll take all the stories I can get.


-Brian Boyce

  Works Cited 

Unsworth, Len. (2008). Multiliteracies, E-literature and English Teaching, Language and Education, 22:1, 62-75.



Tags: e-literature

Media Project #1 – Hyperlinked Text: “Hiroshima” by Sarah Kay

July 4th, 2014 · 2 Comments

For our Media Project 1 on visual literacy, we chose to create a hyperlinked version of the spoken word poem “Hiroshima” by Sarah Kay. Our rationale for this can be found here: Media Project 1 – Ashley and Co. And our rubric for assessment can be found here: Media Project #1 Rubric – Ashley and Co.

Here is our product:



When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini

supernova, so every living animal, human or plant that received

direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash.

What was left of the city soon followed.
The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation

caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder.

When I was born, my mom says I looked around the whole hospital room

with a stare that said, This? I’ve done this before.

She says that I have old eyes. When my Grandpa Genji died


I was only five years old, but I took my mom by the hand

and told her, Don’t worry, he’ll come back as a baby.

And yet, for someone who has apparently done this already,


I still haven’t figured anything out yet.

My knees still buckle every time I get onstage.

My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons,


mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth.

But in Hiroshima, some people were wiped clean away leaving only

a wristwatch, a diary page, the mudflap from a bicycle.


So no matter that I have inhibitions to fill all my pockets,

I keep trying, hoping that one day I’ll write the poem I will be

proud to let sit in a museum exhibit as the only proof I existed.

My parents named me Sarah, which is a biblical name.

In the original story, God told Sarah she could do something

impossible and she laughed. Because the first Sarah?
She didn’t know what to do with Impossible.

And me? Well, neither do I. But I see the impossible every day.

Impossible is trying to connect in this world; trying to


hold on to others while things are blowing up around you; knowing

that while you are speaking, they aren’t just waiting

for their turn to talk. They hear you.


They feel exactly what you feel at the same time that you feel it.

It’s what I strive for every time I open my mouth:

That impossible connection.

There is a piece of wall in Hiroshima that was burnt black by the

radiation. But on the first step, a person blocked the rays from hitting

the stone. The only thing left is a permanent shadow of positive light.


After the A-bomb, specialists said it would take seventy-five years for

the radiation-damaged soil of Hiroshima to ever grow anything again.

But that spring, there were new buds popping up from the earth.


When I meet you, in that moment,

I am no longer a part of your future.

I start quickly becoming part of your past.


But in that instant, I get to share a part of your present.

And you get to share a part of  mine.

And that is the greatest present of all.


So if you tell me I can do the impossible, I will probably laugh at you.

I don’t know if I can change the world. Yet.

Because I don’t know that much about it.


And I don’t know that much about reincarnation either,

but if you make me laugh hard enough,

sometimes I forget what century I’m in.


This isn’t my first time here. This isn’t my last time here.

These aren’t the last words I’ll share. But just in case,

I’m trying my hardest to get it right this time around.


Tags: e-literature · Visual Literacy

e-Literature Post

July 13th, 2013 · No Comments

As discussed in class on Friday, here is a link to my post for the hyper-text we created on the UBCWiki.


Tags: e-literature · Uncategorized

More Thoughts on E-Literature

July 12th, 2013 · No Comments

Thank you to everyone for listening and participating in our presentation today! I wanted to share a few of my thoughts about the site we perused together ( as well as pose a few additional comments/questions about this topic.

For one, I highly encourage you to browse through the EL volumes when you have some more time, as there are very interesting and thought provoking pieces in the collections. When viewing the various “texts”, I felt extremely challenged to open my mind to a world without physical limitations. The possibilities are endless! Several classes ago, Teresa spoke about her experience of sharing e-lit. She mentioned facing antagonism and outright hostility while speaking to a group of experienced instructors.  While I am a huge fan of reading in print form and I loved learning about “canonical” texts throughout my education, I am greatly encouraged by the way in which e-lit challenges our stiffened definitions about what constitutes “true” and “valuable” literature. While the visual/audio/artistic expression characteristic of some e-lit can feel like an overwhelming sensory experience at first, I must say I’m entranced by the idea of literature, art and multimedia that enriches and informs culture through a hybrid response. In its interactive nature, e-lit takes familiar technological processes and applies them in a different context: one in which various tools are harnessed to enhance and even create an entirely new kind of story. I like the idea that the use of technology in e-lit is not just a “bells and whistles” approach used to grab attention. Rather in this context, we are invited to investigate the meta- aspects of literary production and technology that are part and parcel with creating a meaningful experience.  I’ll finish off with a interesting thought that came out of lingering after class with our instructors: since the curriculum has shifted in recent years and we are no longer teachers of English Language only but of English Language Arts, how is e-lit just as, if not better suited in some cases to this curriculum? With scholarship that continues to critically investigate and challenge notions of the “canon”, how is e-lit a valuable tool uniquely positioned to aid students in their growth as “literate” individuals in the 21st century?


Tags: e-literature · Uncategorized

What is E-LIterature?

July 11th, 2013 · 1 Comment

 “Electronic literature, generally considered to exclude print literature that has been digitized, is by contrast “digital born,” a first-generation digital object created on a computer and (usually) meant to be read on a computer.”

Electronic Literature Organization

“work with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.”

Key scholars

Dr. Katherine Hayles, Dr. Joseph Tabbi

Forms and threads of practice

  • Hypertext fiction and poetry, on and off the Web
  • Kinetic poetry presented in Flash and using other platforms
  • Computer art installations which ask viewers to read them or otherwise have literary aspects
  • Conversational characters, also known as chatterbots
  • Interactive fiction
  • Novels that take the form of emails, SMS messages, or blogs
  • Poems and stories that are generated by computers, either interactively or based on parameters given at the beginning
  • Collaborative writing projects that allow readers to contribute to the text of a work
  • Literary performances online that develop new ways of writing

Our Role

Important questions

  1. Is electronic literature really literature at all?
  2. Will the dissemination mechanisms of the Internet and the WWW, nu opening publication to everyone, result in a flood of worthless drivel?
  3. Is literary quality possible in digital media, or is electronic literature demonstrably inferior to the print canon?



The e-story “facade” describes a dinner party between a married couple. As the reader interacts with the conversation, the party quickly circles around the couple’s marriage. This work is revolutionary as it can accept any type of language produced by the user and assimilate it into the outcome of the narrative.



Electronic Literature is Not Print

  • Relies on different language.  Need to begin with computer code; an entirely different source language.
  • Hypertextuality.
  • Cool factor.
  • Involves more genres than just literature (digital arts, computer games, and other forms associated with networked and programmable media).
  • Also “deeply entwined with the powerful commercial interests of software companies, computer manufacturers, and other purveyors of apparatus associated with networked and programmable media” (24).
  • “[E]lectronic literature can be seen as a cultural force helping to shape subjectivity in an era when networked and programmable media are catalyzing cultural, political, and economic changes with unprecedented speed” (24).  This is the key point.  How?  For real?  For the better?  This notion can be connected to McLuhan.
  • Espen J. Aarseth suggests e-lit to be “a purely ideological term, projecting an unfocused fantasy rather than a concept of any analytical substance” (21).
  • Is e-lit an attack on the imagination and bound for obsolescence?
  • Reliant on “the grid.”  Privileged genre?


E- Literature – Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination

How exactly is e-literature preserved and archived? While there are methods to preserving physical work (as books, for example, can endure for centuries if printed on quality paper), how does the archiving of digital media take place? In her article, Hayes mentions that libraries, librarians, conservators and preservationists allow physical work to be conserved, but that no such method or mechanisms exist for electronic literature. This situation is further complicated by the fact that digital media is incredibly fluid – it is constantly changing and its direction is often uncertain (often due to software and hardware updates), making it unplayable or unreadable on newer systems.

The answer to this, according to Hayles, is The Electronic Literature Organization, which has taken a proactive approach to this crucial problem of preservation with the new PAD initiative (Preservation, Archiving and Dissemination Initiative). They collect, in their words, “innovative and high quality” works and compile them in a collection that features 60 recent works of electronic literature, includes brief descriptions of each work, a note by the author(s), a keyword index, and make it available to the public – all while preserving and archiving it. It is, essentially, an online electronic library.

Hayles also mentions that an article available on the ELO website called “Acid-Free Bits” by Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip- Fruin, offers tips for authors on how to preserve their electronic literature. The tips advise authors to pay attention to how they digitally present their work, and make recommendations such as utilizing open systems instead of closed systems (open systems allow unrestricted user access while closed systems do not), choosing community-directed systems over corporate driven systems, and adhering to good programming practices by supplying comments and consolidating code.

Hayles closes the article by discussing what she calls a “visionary” proposal that is discussed in the essay “Born Again Bits” (Alan Lui et al). The authors in this essay make the proposal of an “X Literature Initiative”, which basically makes the argument that since XML – which is Extensible Markup Language – is and will continue to be the most widespread form up web markup language, it should be a means through which e-literature can be preserved. The proposal also puts forth the idea that a set of practices and tools can allow old works of e-literature to be migrated to XML – allowing e-literature of all ages to be encoded and preserved in the same manner.

Discussion Question:

In her article, Hayles mentions that when it pertains to the preservation of e-literature, the PAD initiative only selects “innovative and high quality” works for their archival collection. In your opinion, what potential problems could arise when it pertains to what exactly is chosen for preservation? How accurate do you think the ELO is in choosing “good” literature that the future generation would find beneficial? Should there be some sort of checklist for what is deemed “high quality”, and thus, preserved in the ELO’s collection?


Tags: e-literature · Uncategorized

Electronic Literature is Not Print: A Reflection on N. Katherine Hayles @

July 11th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The above statement seems rather obvious and straightforward.  Hayles argues that electronic literature is characterised by its digital nature which is reliant on code (an entirely different source language), as well as its hypertextuality (I think we all understand this term).  Also, though it is ‘[l]ocated within the humanities by tradition and academic practice, electronic literature also has close affinities with the digital arts, computer games, and other forms associated with networked and programmable media.  It is also deeply entwined with the powerful commercial interests of software companies, computer manufacturers, and other purveyors of apparatus associated with networked and programmable media” (24).  Alright, fine, but who cares?  I don’t recall anyone getting all up in arms about classifying electronic literature as print (though I’ve been ill-informed many times before).  What becomes important and worthy of debate, however, is the way in which “electronic literature can be seen as a cultural force helping to shape subjectivity in an era when networked and programmable media are catalyzing cultural, political, and economic changes with unprecedented speed” (24), and in a different way than print media does.  The larger question then becomes whether or not these changes are having a negative or positive affect on us.

This idea of media and how we use it changing the nature of our culture and subjectivity isn’t new.  Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore wrote in their 1967 publication The Medium is the Massage (produced by Jerome Agel) that “All media work us over completely.  They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected” (26).  This sounds not only a bit dramatic, but enticingly believable.  But is it?  If we get back to Hayles’ work and think about electronic literature, in what ways has it changed us, and if it has are we better off because of it?  She writes, “Much as the novel both gave voice to and helped to create the liberal humanist subject in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so contemporary electronic literature is both reflecting and enacting a new kind of subjectivity characterized by distributed cognition, networked agency that includes human and non-human actors, and fluid boundaries dispersed over actual and virtual locations” (24).  But is her characterisation of this new subjectivity accurate and/or sufficient?  Also, who or what are these non-human actors?

On the positive side of things I think we might say that we are introducing greater and more rapid access to information, but how is this changing our subjectivity?  Are we becoming more intelligent more quickly because of it?  I think this notion is highly debatable.  In an educational context we might say that electronic literature and hypertextuality are meeting the educational needs of students who learn differently than the verbal/linguistic types (according to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences) who have always been favoured in a print literature setting.  Of course we also might argue that e-lit/hypertexts are feeding a highly distractible ADDesque generation of kids who above not being able to focus aren’t engaging with their imaginations as they once did, and as a result require more and more external sources of entertainment, satisfaction and gratification.

In her book A Theory of Adaptation, Linda Hutcheon writes about the telling and showing modes of texts.  The telling mode comprises the written word- the print based novel, and the showing mode in the realm of the visual- plays and films (22).  She writes:

In the telling mode […] our engagement begins in the realm of imagination, which is simultaneously controlled by the selected, directing words of the text and liberated- that is, unconstrained by the limits of the visual or aural.  We can stop reading at any point; we can re-read or skip ahead; we hold the book in our hands and feel, as well as see, how much of the story remains to be read.  But with the move to the mode of showing, as in film and stage adaptations, we are caught in an unrelenting, forward-driving story.  And we have moved from the realm of the imagination to the realm of direct perception- with its mix of both detail and broad focus (23).

Where does electronic literature fit into this theorization, and perhaps specifically hypertexts?  If we are to take Hayles assertion that electronic literature is not print literature then we must place it in the realm of the visual- the showing mode.  Do we then agree with Hutcheon’s idea that in this mode we are moving away from our imaginations when we engage with electronic literature and hypertexts?  And bringing McLuhan et al. back into the conversation with Hayles and Hutcheon, in what specific ways does electronic literature alter our subjectivity, sociocultural interactions, and ultimately, our lives?  Or should we be placing electronic literature, perhaps nebulously, in the divide between the telling and showing modes?


Works Cited

Hayles, N. Katherine. “Electronic Literature: What is it?” Jan. 2 2007. Web. 5 Jul 2013. <>.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Adaptation. New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2006. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium is the Massage. Ed. Jerome Agel. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 2001. Print.

Tags: e-literature · Uncategorized

New Directions for Literacy Education: E-Literature

July 11th, 2013 · No Comments

Electronic Literature is such a fascinating topic, and during my preparation for my group’s presentation, I learned more than I ever thought I would. After reading Elizabeth Hayle’s article, an aspect of e-lit that really stood out for me was the issue of preserving and archiving work so that it would be available for future generations. What intrigued me about this topic was the fact that I had never (ever!) even thought about the importance of preserving e-lit, and really had no idea how the process would even work. This article really emphasizes the point that digital media is not something that remains stagnant, it is constantly changing, and “whereas books printed on good quality paper can endure for centuries, electronic literature routinely becomes unplayable (and hence unreadable) after a decade or even less” (Hayles). Although I am aware of the fact that both software and hardware are constantly changing and improving, I had never really thought of the fact that they can change to the point where certain programs can become completely incompatible, and thus, lost.

Today, we are so used to the constant flow of new editions of our favourite electronic items, and because they almost always support the programs of earlier editions of the same device, “losing” any type of electronic work/composition is usually not an issue. What we must keep in mind is the fact that this scenario may not ring true when there is a 20 or 30 year age gap between different editions of the same device. This fact emphasizes the point that in order to make the innovations of today available for tomorrow, preservation and archiving must seriously be considered.

Besides the issue of archiving electronic literature, something else that I am really interested in is the idea of comparing the different experiences one may have with print literature (a plain old book) and an online digital novel. I had the opportunity to read some digital novels online, and I found that while they were incredibly engaging and entertaining, I simply just prefer reading a physical book. In my case, I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I cannot sit in front of my computer screen for very long, and also, that I equate reading with peace and quiet. I am interested in hearing what my classmates have to say, and look forward to hearing their different perspectives.


Works Cited

Hayles, N. Katherine. (2007). Electronic Literature: What is it? The Electronic Literature Organization. <>


—– Natasha Randhawa



Tags: e-literature · Uncategorized