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Saved by Caroline Kelley
on November 9, 2010 at 11:26:11 pm


Electronic Literature: A Hopeful Monster, A Trading Zone

An Interactive HUMlab Workshop

with Caroline Kelley and Cecilia Lindhé

As N. Katherine Hayles explains in Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary (2008) since electronic literature is developed (and "performed") in the framework of networked and programmable media, it is strongly informed by computer games, films, animation, digital art, graphic design, and electronic visual culture.  In this sense, electronic literature is a "hopeful monster" (as geneticists label positive adaptive mutations) composed of parts from a variety of traditions that may not fit neatly together.  Intrinsically hybrid, electronic literature becomes a "trading zone" (as Peter Galison calls it in a different context) where diverse vocabularies, expertises, and expectations intermingle (4).  For the purposes of our workshop we adopted Hayles’ terms "hopeful monster" and "trading zone" as defining elements of its theme.  We envision an interactive and interdependent workshop that is somewhat experimental.  While we might be the "conveners" of the workshop, we envision that everyone takes an active role in planning sessions, participating in group discussions, and "presenting" or "performing" their own work (or a relevant topic of interest).  In designing the workshop, we want to explore different ways of "doing" the academic workshop or seminar – drawing on educational theories that could also be used in our classroom teaching.  To be specific, we want this workshop (and wiki) to be a space to try "reflective practice" as well as to some degree "cooperative or participatory learning."  This might be different from our prior experiences of workshops or seminars where information is "transmitted" from a speaker or a lecturer to participants and there is a well-defined body of knowledge to absorb (and to discuss or regurgitate).  We attempt to move away from this structure and to create an opportunity to reflect – as a group – on what we read and discussed as well as our varied knowledge and experiences.  We want to try to facilitate a "community of practice" where the participants inquire together into the subject of Electronic Literature, support and contribute to one another’s process of learning and understanding, and generating knowledge collectively.  Within the space of the workshop, everyone is expected to be a learner and have an opportunity to share their knowledge – as well as to actively contribute to the direction of the workshop.  Ideally, our intent as facilitators is not to deliver content but to create a space that strengthens our capacities for critical inquiry, our understandings of the new field of Electronic Literature and inspires us to reflect on our own approaches to teaching and learning.  Much like the emergent field we discuss, we want to experiment with newer ways of accessing knowledge.  One of the elements of our participatory approach is the workshop wiki.  For the period of the workshop, participants have writer status and are encouraged to produce and edit content, make suggestions (i.e., session topics or themes, reading, online resources, etc.), and help to organize the workshop.

***We continue to maintain the wiki as a source of information about electronic literature and open access publishing.

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