Electronic Textuality workshop

15-16 June 2010, Istanbul, Turkey

The age of computers and telecommunications that we are living in has generated new sites and forms of literacy, a new visual and techno-oral culture fast replacing the culture of the book.

Listservs, chat rooms, discussion boards, instant messages, and the web, to name but a few, have enabled forms of discursivity that are unfettered by regional and national borders and challenge the boundaries established by print culture between the private and the public, the author and the reader, the aesthetic and the instrumental. ‘The end of the book’ in this sense is not only and simply the disappearance of the book as an object, but a radical restructuring of the institutions that surround it — institutions such as the library, the university, intellectual property laws, and literature itself.

The workshop on electronic textuality aimed to contribute to an understanding of the new forms of cultural literacy and the institutional changes they necessitate by exploring the questions that the electronic word poses for literary and cultural studies and by delineating the forms of textuality, rhetoricity, fictionality, and historicity embodied by electronic texts.

Some of the strategic imperatives that may be addressed in this context are:

  • What features of textuality in general do electronic texts make more conspicuous?

  • What happens to the distinctions between high and low culture, commercial or aesthetic usage, artistic or chance creation in the face of the possibilities and threats presented by electronic textuality?

  • What forms of rhetorical analysis are called for by the malleable, playful, and selfconscious textual surface of the electronic text?

  • How do electronic texts teach us to see earlier works of literature in new ways?

  • How do contemporary literary works exploit the new radical interactivity and other possibilities offered by digital technology and new practices of electronic communication?

  • What happens to the notions of authorship, the reading public, and intellectual property in the face of the collaborative, never finalized, radically uncontrollable nature of electronic texts?

  • Do electronic texts create a new ‘orality’ and a participatory sense of community?

  • In what ways do electronic texts disrupt the intimate links between author and work, voice and self?

  • What impact does this disruption have on contemporary notions of selfhood, humanism and the humanities?