New media English literature : a product re-launch

James, Ryan (2012-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the recent past, the large-scale production and marketing of e-reading devices, such as Amazon’s Kindle, and tablet computers, such as Apple’s iPad, have allowed literary works to be presented in a digital reading space, both in the form of standard e-books and, more recently, as enhanced or “amplified” e-books. Much of the position-taking on the matter is polarised: technologists continue to imagine the myriad possibilities of multimodal online “stories”, focusing on opportunities for interactive engagement, while the guardians of literary tradition fear the digital reading space might well cause fluency disruptions and break the hermeneutic immersion necessary for strong reading, irrevocably altering a traditional, paper-based reading experience known to promote a state of deep attention and imaginatively engaged reading. This thesis looks realistically at the current literary climate in which the so-called “digital native” operates, scrutinises the “print” versus “electronic” debate, paying careful attention to how an online environment may well prevent hermeneutic immersion, and then discusses recent enhanced literary products, such as the transmedia fiction title, Chopsticks (Penguin Group USA 2012), and the nonfiction titles released by online publisher Atavist. Then, in an attempt to bridge the gap between the technologists and the print-book purists, and based on what might be considered to be literature’s original value, the thesis proposes a digital reading product in which a formalised set of conventions and a strategic instructional design, or interface, attempts to protect the qualities of traditional, paper-based reading, while at the same time taking advantage of on-screen, online environments to reconnect digital natives with the relevance of past literatures. More specifically, the product presented herein is an attempt to demonstrate 1) how a new aesthetic of literary presentation might stimulate renewed interest in the humanities and liberal arts; 2) how fiction might be reinstated as one of the central components in the education process; 3) how works of fiction that have become increasingly obscure over time or inaccessible to young people might be re-energised; and 4) how what one might call “local” literatures might be “de-parochialised” within an increasingly globalised reading environment.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die produksie en bemarking op groot skaal van e-lesers soos Amazon se Kindle en tabletvormige rekenaars soos Apple se iPad het dit moontlik gemaak om letterkunde in ’n digitale ruimte aan te bied, hetsy in die vorm van e-boeke, of (meer onlangs) in versterkte en “aangevulde” e-boek vorm. Meningsvorming rondom die letterkundige toepaslikheid van e-boeke is sterk gepolariseerd: tegnoloë sien net die magdom moontlikhede raak wat multi-modale aanlyn stories en interaktiewe betrokkenheid inhou, terwyl tradisionele literêre kurators vrese koester oor hoe die digitale leesruimte inbreuk sal maak op die vloei en hermeneutiese onderdompeling nodig vir ’n grondige leeservaring; dit, meen hulle, sal dan ook lei tot die onherroeplike verlies van diep en verbeeldingryke aandag, eienskappe wat lees op papier veronderstel is om mee te bring. Hierdie proefskrif werp ’n realistiese blik op die huidige literêre klimaat, veral die omstandighede waarin die sogenaamde “digital native” deesdae funksioneer. Die debat rondom gedrukte teenoor elektroniese boeke word noukeurig ondersoek, veral met betrekking tot die mate waarin aanlyn lees dalk wel hermeneutiese onderdompeling onderdruk. Verder word versterkte literêre produkte soos die transmedia fiksie titel, Chopsticks (Penguin Group USA 2012), en nie-fiksie titels deur aanlyn-uitgewer Atavist, noukeurig bekyk. Voorts, in ’n poging om die gaping tussen tegnoloë en gedrukte-boek puriste te oorbrug, en op grond van wat mens die oer-waarde van letterkunde dalk kan noem, stel hierdie proefskrif ’n digitale leesproduk voor met ’n geformaliseerde stel konvensies en ’n strategiese instruksionele ontwerp, of koppelvlak (‘interface’). Dit word gedoen in ’n poging om die eienskappe van tradisionele, ‘papier’ lees te behou, maar terselfdetyd voordeel te trek uit die aanlyn-omgewing, en om sodoende die ‘digitale inboorling’ te herenig met die relevansie van vervloë letterkunde. Hierdie voorgestelde produk, dan, is meer spesifiek ’n poging om te wys 1) hoe ’n nuwe literêr-digitale aanbiedingsestetika hernieude belangstelling in die geesteswetenskappe en liberale kunste kan werk; 2) hoe fiksie weer ingestel kan word as kern-komponent in die opvoedingsproses; 3) hoe nuwe energie verleen kan word aan fiksie wat toenemend onbekend of ontoeganklik vir jongmense word; en 4) hoe die Suid-Afrikaanse letterkunde opgehef kan word binne die opset van ’n toenemend-globale leesomgewing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71837
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