This is a cross-post from an English grad course I’m currently taking, titled Writing in the Digital Age. You can view my classmate’s posts on our class blog, located here.
“What are you playing?” asks my roommate as she walks by.
“My readings”, I respond.
In this specific instance, it was queers in love at the end of the world, which, itself is better experienced than explained (Abi did a really great job of this in her post!). And though all of the our readings have indeed been (e-)literature, I found myself perplexed that the medium can perceived, at least to an onlooker, as simply video, or simply game, or, most offensively, as something mindless. No, even referring to e-literature as e-literature seems to discount the reality it encapsulates: the frantic unpredictability of real life, digitized.
I found myself spending the most time this week exploring the hypermedia novella These Waves of Girls— a digital web of short stories and artifacts, exploring memory, girlhood and sexuality. Recounted through fragmented memory, the non-linear narrative is incredibly difficult for a reader to piece together. The text is full of bright colours, relying on visuals to aid in the process of storytelling. These Waves of Girls employs and embodies the nostalgia of the pre-2000’s internet where it was conceived, now appearing somewhat familiar but dated. Hyperlink after hyperlink leads a reader deeper into the layers of memory, into the layers of narrative. True to the experience of memory, this text shows how memory can be, at once, immersive and static: the same of which is true of the digital world.
These Waves of Girls tells a very normal, though fragmented and choppy, story of girlhood. When it is processed through the digital interface, it becomes not boring or mundane, but instead, universally relatable.
Our privileged notion of rational, linear subjectivity (premised on the book) may have initially fostered our ability to concentrate in depth and at length, but is most definitely not where it ends. E-Lit recasts subjectivity in a new medium that encourages not discontinuous reading, but a different type of reading that demands a different sensory involvement. Digital reading embodies the real.