Digital technologies are changing both the material form of the book in the popularization of e-books and i-books and the methods whereby we can study texts. The increasing availability of free and sometimes open source digital platforms, analytical, mark-up, and visualization tools make it possible to identify trends and patterns in large data sets or in individual texts that can, for example, give surprising insights into the concerns of specific cultural periods or of individual authors, and marked shifts over time. As academics, our increasing reliance on digital archives and databases for research in primary and secondary sources raise further questions, such as:

What will the impact of digital technologies be on academic studies in the future? How can new tools enhance our understanding of past works and inform present analytical practices? What is gained and what is overlooked when research focuses on quantitative measures and what Franco Moretti has termed ‘distant reading’ as a method of analysis that “allows you to focus on units that are much smaller or much larger than the text: devices, themes, tropes – or genres and systems”?

Recognizing that the practice of Digital Literary Studies is rapidly evolving with the publication of new tools and the development of new methodological approaches, the course will focus on four main areas of inquiry: Debates, Tools, Disruptions, and Emergent Forms. To this end, throughout the course, students will:

  • read key critical essays and online dialogues between experts currently shaping the field of Digital Humanities and Digital Literary Studies;
  • engage with innovative digital projects, new digital-born textual forms (hypertext, webcomics, i-books, and videogames), and platforms (social media, participatory storytelling, and others TBD);
  • explore new technologies as creative and analytical tools;
  • participate in a collaborative class experiment in the creation & publication of an online interactive text(s).

Further questions we will explore will be:

What will constitute the digital text of the (near) future? What changes for the reader when texts become “interactive” and participatory? How does our understanding of narrative and storytelling change in a digital environment? Can narratology address multimodal and interactive texts? And what disruptive technologies are driving these new forms?



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