Electronic Literature @ Wheaton

Class Thread on Media-Specific Analysis (Week 14)

From Gloria:
At the beginning of the semester, we read Katherine Hayles’ definition of what electronic literature is and she mentions media-specific analysis, where the reader must consider what “sub-genre,” of sorts, the piece is. I wasn’t sure what to call it, but I wanted to bring up experience-specific analysis, or how our experiences, as a whole, affect our view of the piece. As technology advances and newer computers and operating systems replace their predecessors, it is possible that a piece cannot be experienced fully. For example, we all experienced bpNichol’s “First Screening” either through an emulator or by playing a video. What, if anything, is lost through the use of such emulators? Can the experience of viewing “First Screening” on a 1980’s Mac somehow be preserved? Should authors keep this in mind as they create pieces?
To go a step farther, does the digital media that is necessary to experience the pieces allow E-Lit to still be classified as literature? A recent study discovered that reading on electronic devices actually rewires the circuits in our brains. What does electronic literature offer that traditional literature does not, and vice versa? Here is the link to a radio segment that talked about the study: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/learningcurve/how-reading-screens-rewiring-our-brains