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LINGUIST List 17.1956

Wed Jul 05 2006

Diss: Ling&Literature: Ensslin: 'Canonising Hypertext: Explorations...'

Editor for this issue: Meredith Valant <meredithlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Astrid Ensslin, Canonising Hypertext: Explorations and constructions

Message 1: Canonising Hypertext: Explorations and constructions
Date: 02-Jul-2006
From: Astrid Ensslin <astrid.ensslinmanchester.ac.uk>
Subject: Canonising Hypertext: Explorations and constructions

Institution: University of Heidelberg
Program: Faculty of Modern Languages
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Astrid Ensslin

Dissertation Title: Canonising Hypertext: Explorations and constructions

Linguistic Field(s): Ling & Literature

Dissertation Director:
Sally Johnson
Thomas Rommel
Peter Paul Schnierer

Dissertation Abstract:

'Canonising Hypertext: Explorations and constructions' is the first
comprehensive study to summarise and evaluate - discursively and
empirically - the theoretical and pedagogic implications of 'literary
hypertext'. This new 'literary media genre' is a specific form of
contemporary literature, the reception and production of which are based on
the antilinear, modular macrostructural principles of the computer and the
internet and which therefore combines modern hypermedia with an at once
'traditional' and innovative approach to reading and writing. More
specifically, this type of text consists of so-called 'lexias' (textual
units, or nodes, which occur in the form of separate windows on the
reader's interface) and hyperlinks, which, in combination, form antilinear
macrostructural networks resembling rhizomatic structures (cf. Deleuze and
Guattari 1987). This results in highly individualised reading processes and
results, which have caused a great number of American theorists in the
early 1990s to see hypertext as the embodiment of poststructuralist
literary theory, a stance which has meanwhile come under fierce criticism
and caused a major scholarly debate, which continues to this day.

It is my intention in this book to address, from a literary and educational
point of view, the challenges posed by the changing modes of media
consumption and media-related behaviour in the developed world. These
challenges include the enormous increase in hypermediality, visuality and
aurality associated with contemporary Television and New Media consumption,
which threatens to subvert the dominance of the written word in a process
which J. D. Bolter describes as 'reverse ekphrasis' (2001). In this
respect, particular concern has been expressed by educationalists who,
based on statistical figures and personal experience, fear that, as a
result of the heightened amount of visuality found on television and the
internet, literacy levels and imaginative skills, particularly amongst
young users, may deteriorate and fall prey to an impassive submergence in
the pictorial, the cinematographic, the pre-defined sequencing of images
and sounds (cf. Manuel 2005).

Against this backdrop, I intend to address the questions of how literature,
the art of the written word, can be promoted and taught in such a way as to
make it relevant for an increasingly hypermedia-oriented readership; how
the rapidly evolving New Media can be integrated in a university and school
curriculum that still, and legitimately, seeks to transmit classical
literary competence; and, finally, how the notion of literary competence
can be re(de)fined to meet these new challenges and embrace rather than
ignore or even resist those current trends. With a view to providing
answers to these questions, this study, which is aimed at scholars,
instructors and students of literature, seeks to 'canonise', or help to
canonise, literary hypertext.

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