PRESENTATION: Twitter as a Site of Worship

September 22nd, 2014 § Comments Off on PRESENTATION: Twitter as a Site of Worship § permalink

Abstract: Robert Darnton’s communication model of the book trade closes with a feedback loop from the reading public back to the author. Traditionally, this would have happened through private correspondence or small-scale public events. The development of large social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter has scaled up these interactions, as well as made them visible to a wider audience, as readers can directly and publicly show their affection and support for their favourite authors.

In recent years, the rise of Twitter has been linked to its successes as a marketing and news network since it functions as a one-way broadcast medium, with many authors using Twitter to engage with an audience. In Twitter parlance, the audience of a twitter count is referred to a “followers,” a quasi-religious term that demonstrates the relationship between the authors and their readers in many interactions. The Twitter platform has also opened up the possibilities for systematic research of reception, as users can mine the large dataset of tweets for mentions of a particular book or author.

While many authors only use their Twitter account for publicity reasons, if indeed, the work is not outsourced, some authors have embraced the medium as a form of communication. Margaret Atwood (@MargaretAtwood, c.450,000 followers), William Gibson (@greatdismal, c.150,000 followers), Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself, c.2,000,000 followers) and E. L. James (@E_L_James, c.450,000 followers) represent four high profile examples of authors using Twitter as both a personal and professional tool. The current project examines the messages sent publicly to the authors as evidence of contemporary readership and the ways in which these interactions demonstrate the reception of twenty-first century authors. The writers’ mixture of tweets about contemporary issues, as well as the creative process and broadcasting some fans’ requests, reveals a new and interesting way for authors to engage with their audience. The data reveals that these authors choose to engage with some elements of their contemporary readership, but other comments go as unanswered “prayers” since the overwhelming volume of requests and messages are unmanageable for an author on their own.

EN3061: Text(ure)

September 17th, 2014 § Comments Off on EN3061: Text(ure) § permalink

I had a little tinker after last year to focus more on digital culture and less on traditional bibliographical methods. Readings are also updated in places, since, as ever, innovations in digital culture wait for no one.

Learning Outcomes

(a)        Demonstrate proficiency in skills necessary to analyse traces of the production and reception of texts in a variety of formats, both print and digital.

(b)       Have a sophisticated understanding of how a single text may exist in many different formats and how this may fundamentally alter the reception of the text.

(c)        Show an advanced awareness of contemporary techniques for analysing texts using digital tools.

(d) Critically evaluate interdisciplinary data available digitally.

Module Structure

Week 1:          Introduction

Week 2:          Literate, Oral and Tactile
Key terms: oral, literate, modality, tactile
Rubery, M. “Canned Literature: The Book after Edison.” Book History 16.1 (2013): 215-245.

Week 3:          Signs & Symbols
Key terms: writing systems, Unicode, typography, punctuation, emojis
Selections from Houston, K. 2013. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols and Other Typographical Marks. New York: W & W Norton
Coulmas, F., 1989. The writing systems of the world, Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Chapter 2

Week 4:          Cryptography (and poster workshop)
Key terms: code, cracking, information theory, cipher
Excerpts from Kahn, D., 1996. The codebreakers: the story of secret writing. New York: Scribner.

Week 5:          Book History
Key terms: publishing, reception, materiality
Darnton, R., 2007. “What is the History of Books?” Revisited. Modern Intellectual History, 4(03), pp.495–508.
Anderson, B., 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism Revised., London: Verso. Chapter 3.

Week 6:          Born digital
Key terms: hypertext, code, platform, software
Barnet, B., 2012. Machine Enhanced (Re)minding: the Development of Storyspace. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 6(2).

Week 7:          POSTER SESSION

Week 8:          Digitization workshop
Key terms: Facsimile, scanning, OCR
Mak, B. 2014. Archaeology of a digitization. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65: 1515–1526.
Spend at least 30 minutes acquainting yourself with one or more of these resources: HaithiTrust, NYPL Menus, Project Gutenberg or EEBO

Week 9:          eBook History
Key terms: eBook, formats, updatability
Maxwell, J. 2013. E-Book Logic: We Can Do Better. Papers Of The Bibliographical Society Of Canada, 51(1).

Week 10:        Social Texts
Key terms: annotation, marginalia, reception
Find one or two annotated books in the library/your own collection or the Harvard Views of Readers, Readership and Reading History collection
Sherman, W.H., 2008. Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Introduction & Excerpts (LN)
Jackson, H.J., 2002. Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Chapter 3

Week 11:        Artists’ Books (case study workshop)
Key terms: book-as-object, form vs. content, artists’ book
Excerpts from Drucker, J., 1995. The Century of Artists’ Books, New York: Granary Books.

Week 12:        Automated reading & writing
Key terms: searching, automation, bot
Rosenberg, D., 2014. “Stop, Words.” Representations, 127(1), pp. 83-92.

Semester 2, Week 1: Case Studies Due

PRESENTATION: Indexes as Hypertext

September 5th, 2014 § Comments Off on PRESENTATION: Indexes as Hypertext § permalink

Abstract: The digital revolution has led to the development of new forms of literature, including hypertext fiction. Hypertext, most commonly known as links on the Internet, is not exclusive to digital media, but instead has a long history in print. One of the ways in which hypertext can appear in print is through creative use of indexes to form a conceptual network on top of the linear text. With reference to three novels—Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, and Steven Hall’s Raw Shark Texts—this talk will demonstrate the ways in which indexes are used in fiction to encourage readers to search through the text to assemble their own interpretation of the text. These innovative uses of indexes in fiction offer a blueprint for the creative appropriations of the index in digital fiction.