115 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2016
    1. binary between “old” (i.e., human) versus “new” (i.e., computational) practices

      It shouldn't be a binary though; as Greg mentioned before, the computational practices are designed by humans.

    2. Stein’s work in Three Lives

      I wonder what studying the pervasive modulated repetition of "Melanctha" would reveal.

    3. The results, as seen in figure 1, make it clear that The Making of Americans has the largest number of words, or tokens (see the label “Total”), the least number of unique words or types (“Unique”), and the largest average word frequency (“Avg. Frequency”).

      Another mini-tangent, sorry. I recently read this interview with Alexander Galloway in which he says the following about the two main approaches to DH (investigating the nature of letters and numbers versus focusing on the use of letters and numbers for other means):

      Ultimately it comes down to this: if you count words in Moby-Dick, are you going to learn more about the white whale? I think you probably can — and we have to acknowledge that. But you won’t learn anything new about counting. That’s the difference between the two approaches, and I think a lot of the misunderstanding between the two methods (or cultures) of working with digitality is due to this difference.

    4. By identifying quantifiable pieces of a text using word frequencies and locations, these scholars have generated computer-assisted close readings of the structures of texts that correspond to, contradict, or otherwise provide interesting insight into what has been assumed about the texts on an abstract level.

      Shakespeare infographics/data have been ALL over the Internet recently, probably because of the 400th anniversary of his death. Here's a great one about character interaction in the tragedies:

    5. Stephen Ramsay has used StageGraph to cluster Shakespearean plays on the basis of low-level structural elements such as the length of acts, scene changes, and character movements (“In Praise of Pattern”).

      Tangential, but fun: Sir Ian McKellen and Heuristic Media recently released the first "Heuristic Shakespeare" app.

      From the website:

      The Tempest from Heuristic Shakespeare is the first in a collection of thirty-seven separate apps. Each app is a tool for demystifying a play and making it more enjoyable for a modern audience. Sir Ian McKellen and Professor Sir Jonathan Bate take us on journey of discovery using the world-famous Arden Shakespeare texts and their extensive essays and notes. The apps are not meant to be a replacement for seeing the plays in the theatre or on the screen but instead bring the text to life and help readers understand the language.

    6. Perloff argues that each of the classifications above must be adopted in conversation with the others

      Agreed! Why view a text through only one lens?

    7. As rhetoric or practical criticism: “the examination of diction and syntax, rhythm and repetition, and the various figures of speech” (6) As philosophy or the “potential expression of truth and knowledge” (7)2 As art or a unique aesthetic construct—a form of discourse inherently other, of which the objective is the “pleasure of representation” and the “pleasure of recognition,” or the pleasure “of taking in impersonations, fictions, and language creations of others and recognizing their justice” (17) As “cultural production”—“for its political role, its exposure of the state of a given society” (9)

      Highlighting this section because it might be useful for my final project (lit crit wiki).

    8. Gertrude Stein

      I can't help but think Stein would have appreciated certain digital tools given her work with William James and interest in classifying personality types.

    9. “All literature is to some extent aware of itself as a technology”

      The medium is the message?

    10. The thinking is that twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary (and cultural) theory, which tends to value the literary texts and aspects of them that resist simple evaluative resolutions, is incompatible with digital methodologies, which are supposedly geared toward simplifications and fast solutions.

      Is Clement talking about formalist approaches?

  2. Apr 2016
    1. Friedrich Kittler credited the phonograph with “the death of the author” for bringing audiences into contact with the writer’s actual voice at the expense of the imaginary one invoked by the silent page.

      Contrast this to modern film and television adaptations of fiction. The death of the imaginary voice is joined by that of imaginary physicality. Granted, the extent of the latter depends on the text--certain works provide more physical descriptors than others. Film/television adaptation, however, also opens the question of how true the adaptation is to the text's original medium (the text itself!).

    2. confronted readers with a choice between two different forms of mechanical reproduction

      Seems that the number of choices had at least doubled by 2009, if the title of Kirschner's essay ("Reading Dickens Four Ways") holds weight.

      Also: nice Benjamin shout-out.

    3. the printed book as a superior aesthetic format

      Is "aesthetic format" code for "book as object"?

    4. They show instead how the very possibility of sound recording led audiences to reevaluate what the book was capable of doing in the first place

      I assume Rubery is using "book" as a kind of metonymy for the content of a book.

    5. “The phonograph presents its compliments to the audience”

      In away, this greeting places the phonograph as an almost archaic prototype of Siri.

    1. That's the worst accusation: that I am not a serious reader. Not guilty! I love books as much as anybody. But I love reading more.

      Good point: serious readers should be defined not by their form of choice but by their content of choice.

    2. You can listen while applying makeup.

      For me, audiobook time was when I used to straighten my hair, which is a boring task that takes forever when your hair is a curly/frizzy as mine. Audiobooks made it slightly more bearable. Clearly, not bearable enough, as I no longer straighten my hair.

    3. Given the enormous storage capacity of the iPhone, I can also have several books waiting their turns

      For me, storage capacity was overshadowed my immediate gratification, which is what I liked about e-readers when they were first popularized. I remember finishing the first book in a series at two in the morning; I was literally able to press a button to purchase and start reading the next installment within two minutes.

    4. In a book about how the present is haunted by the past, I was confronting my old self through the medium of the physical book, still in great condition, still fitting perfectly in my hands.

      The most meta meta that ever did meta.

    5. a text reveals itself differently as the reading context changes

      But it's not just the context that's changing; it's also the medium. Unless context and medium are the same? Or, does context dictate the preferred medium?

    1. Cyberpunk fiction and film codi-fied the mood into a tech-noir aesthetic

      What are "cyberpunk fiction" and "tech-noir aesthetic"???

    2. He began with observa-tions of the gamers’ body language

      Studies pertaining to gaming go beyond observations of only body language now--companies employ psychologists to measure pupil dilation, body temperature, sweat to gauge adrenaline levels and emotional arousal, etc.

    3. kung-fu fighting
    4. “reach right through the screen and get with what they were playing with,”

      Psh. Roald Dahl thought of this in 1964 when he wrote about transmitting candy bars through televisions via radio waves in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    5. Second Life, is run across a grid of servers, each hosting at any given time a small subset of the game’s massive community and keep-ing records of players’ actions in the game

      I can't help but think of how we could apply Freud's ideas of manifest and latent content to digital texts.

    6. The goal is to establish the relation of the character to the text and to its multiple versions and competing interpretations.

      Learning objective for our Billy Budd game?

    7. Texts are the cu-mulative histories of their own receptions.

      Yes, if you're Jauss or Iser.

    8. “[P]eople and machines are both embodied, and the specifica-tions of their embodiments can best be under-stood in the recursive dynamics whereby they coevolve with one another”

      How does something like Google Glass fit here? The machine and the body are essentially joining physically...is that still coevolution?

    9. Economically, cyberspace and the metaverse are images of capitalism.

      Does bitcoin play a role here?

    10. it remains a little like watching what’s going on in the reflection on your train window at the same time that you’re aware of the city going past beyond the window—a multilayered expe-rience of divided attention, at the threshold of the virtual world and the physical world.

      I have nothing specific to say about this excerpt; I just think it's really great prose.

    11. When Second Life is described (as it often is) as another world where you can build anything you can imagine and be anything you desire,

      Rainn Wilson's character on The Office (Dwight Schrute) is seen playing Second Life in the fourth season. Here's the extended, deleted clip, which does an interesting job of commenting on how "real life" affects the game play--it's more obvious if you're familiar with the show, but still.

    12. the end toward which the Web is evolving

      But what's great about the Web is that it isn't static--how can we say that there's an end it's evolving toward?

    1. also performative in a manner controlled in part by the read-er.

      Reminiscent of Iser's virtual text and implied reader?

    2. personal thought experiment

      WHAT. There are one too many words in this terrible phrase, which is both pretentious and ridiculous.

    3. how they are played.

      So, essentially...the medium is the message? I think I've heard that somewhere before...

    4. Grace and Trip

      Not sure I see the similarity with Liz and Richard Burton, but ok, if you say so.

    1. Be less direct, man.

      This too (i.e., the original move's title) is confusing, just in terms of formatting.

    2. Be less direct, man.

      Would be great if this were a link to the move or in quotations marks or something to set it apart.

  3. Mar 2016
    1. While interactive dramatic experiences may fail to meet many of the criteria of formal game defi nitions

      I don't know. My experience at Sleep No More was game-like. After 30 minutes of exploring, my goal became very clear: find your way back to the bar.

    2. “an interactive Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

      This sounds simultaneously amazing and horrifying. In fact, I'm pretty sure this may be the digital version of Edmund Burke's theory on the sublime and the beautiful.

    3. by removing the goals, or more specifi cally, by not describing some possible outcomes as better than others.

      Exactly. The goals aren't removed, but they become user/player/gamer-directed.

    4. RPGs have emergent quantifi able goals but usually no single overriding outcome

      This relates to our discussion on 4/23, particularly Josie's comment about how her goal in playing The Sims was to build the biggest family tree, but that was a goal she chose/gravitated toward, not one outlined by the game-makers (#sorrynotsorry for the Hunger Games nod).

      Also, hypothes.is should add a function for mentions. I tried @JosieWatson, but as you can see, nothing happened.

    5. Be-tween low and high culture. Between trivial play and serious writing.

      How does Bogost's discussion of "serious games" fit in here?

    6. This is very much at odds with what one might loosely call goals of fi ction: exploration, insight, and the renewal of the perceived world through alterneity.

      What about l'art pour l'art and all that jazz? McDaid is promoting a purely telic view of literature (i.e., that it has some goal beyond itself).

    7. Because I need to consider some things that are “not games.”

      How Saussurean. From Course in General Linguistics:

      In the same way a word can be exchanged for something dissimilar, an idea; besides, it can be compared with something of the same nature, another word. Its value is therefore not fixed so long as one simply states that it can be “exchanged” for a given concept, i.e. that it has this or that signification: one must also compare it with similar values, with other words that stand in opposition to it. Its content is really fixed only by the concurrence of everything that exists outside it.

    8. “magic circle”

      Is the "magic circle" of a game like the assumed "fourth wall" in theater? If so, then a game radially disrupts, or separates one from, reality (i.e., from all angles), while the theater (and perhaps, by extension, literature, etc.) does so linearly.

    9. high and low culture electronic texts

      WAIT. There's not only highbrow and lowbrow (and apparently, "middlebrow," according to an article I read last week) but there are also electronic textual versions of these categories? This remnant from phrenology has gone too far.

    10. this is not a game”

      Ceci n'est pas une pipe?

    1. Just add badges! Just add leaderboards!

      About five years ago, Kaplan tried to do this for online SAT and ACT homework. It didn't work. Also, it was way too complicated. Teachers/tutors had to go through a four hour seminar about the badge, etc. system so that we could then explain it to our students. I did the seminar twice and still didn't get it.

    2. It would require the partial or even wholesale reinvention of the way things get done.

      Why can't gamification be an additional part of the process rather than replacing the existing whole?

    3. points isn't the point


    4. Making good games that hope to serve some external purpose is even harder.

      Is there a autotelic/telic distinction here? Making games for the sake of games versus making games for a higher sociocultural or political purpose? Are games the "new art"? Or just an extension of art?

    5. "serious games,"

      In terms of written rhetoric, interesting that here, the phrase is uncapitalized and bracketed by quotation marks, while before it is Serious Games. Reads as much more serious.

    1. Any platform that supports video annotation

      The idea of annotating movies is exciting. How great would it be to annotate the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall?

    2. the speed and scale at which it can be practiced

      In the 21st century, immediacy is a commodity unto itself.

    3. It can also help students learn to read more deliberately, attentively, even caressingly, not only marking and defining unfamiliar words, concepts, or references, not only positing interpretations, but also registering their sensory experience of a text, exchanging a hermeneutic approach for the erotic one memorably advocated by the critic Susan Sontag.

      I've used the same copy of A Room of One's Own for multiple classes, the first of which was my AP English Literature class during my senior year of high school. Every time I use it, I get to reread my annotations from two, five, or ten years ago; it's amazing what changes in terms of what I found unfamiliar or what resonated.

    4. "They Say"/"I Say": The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing

      I never had to take English 120, but isn't this the book the department recommends for it?

    5. offering a kind of intimacy at scale

      The idea of offering literary intimacy, often perceived as "missing" from digital texts, harks back to the ideas presented in "Community Reading and Social Imagination" (Bérubé et al.).

    1. this model can be quite powerful when extended to include students.

      Will the DIY annotation movement replace the prevalence of Norton Critical Editions et al. in the classroom? I can't help but think of the additional benefit of saving money on expensive anthologies and scholarly editions that can be quite costly.

    2. future utility of annotations

      This is important from a pedagogical standpoint; so many high school and undergraduate students are never told why they should annotate.

    3. Even before there was a web, there were dreams of annotations.

      There's a great parody of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? here: Do English Majors Dream of Annotations?

    1. "creative writing workshop,"

      Why is this in quotation marks? Seems a bit derisive.

    2. Lewis Carroll

      A game for the Alice books would be super trippy and fun.

    3. "Composition as Explanation."

      I recall this Stein essay as a discussion of composition over generations, but I could be mistaken. Her writing can be headache-inducing at times.

    4. several stories by Murakami

      Comma Haruki? Is he well known enough to be alluded to by just his surname, or is there another Murakami I don't know about? Also, Haruki Murakami's work doesn't really seem to jive with the preceding texts...like a literary version of the Sesame Street segment "One of these things is not like the other."

    5. By contrast, IVANHOE discourages players from assuming that there is something to be called, say, "The Poem Itself". Perhaps even more crucially, it routes the acts of an interpreting agent back into the material being studied.

      So, like our annotation project, gameplay in literature encourages a move away from the Formalist approach.

    6. Harold Bloom observed some 25 years ago

      This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I just need to share that I have such complicated feelings about Harold Bloom. Thanks.

    7. The concept of criticism as "a doing," as action and intervention

      What about criticism as art? Think Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist," and later, Joel Spingarn's "The New Criticism." From the former:

      That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography, as it deals not with events, but with the thoughts of one's life; not with life's physical accidents of deed or circumstance, but with the spiritual moods and imaginative passions of the mind...

    8. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities

      Compare this to the Harry Potter series, which J.K. Rowling ended with Hermione marrying Ron, a pairing she later admitted was almost entirely fan-driven.

    1. While metafiction is a staple of postmodern literature, it is less common to think about videogames—and by extension, play—in these terms.

      If metafiction is a staple of postmodern lit, what is metagaming a staple of??? Cue existential crisis...

    2. indie game designers have used the open source platform Twine to create personally expressive and politically powerful hybrids of games and narrative

      I've been waiting for this unit to link to this Flavorwire article called "A Sad Person's Guide to Interactive Fiction."

    3. A Makey Makey is an inexpensive microcontroller that replaces typical computer inputs (mouse, arrows, keyboard controls) with any object that conducts electricity.

      So much cooler than the look-a-raw-potato-can-be-a-battery project we did when I was in second grade...

    4. Playful pedagogy recognizes that there is no single correct answer; rather there are always multiple approaches to a problem.

      This is so crucial!

    5. playful pedagogy allows learners themselves to discover their own objectives—and to change them if need be.

      For those unfamiliar with learning objectives...here's an cheat sheet of Bloom's taxonomy, which is old-school at this point, but still valuable vis-à-vis pedagogy and its history.

    6. learning comes to be a series of pathways, different for every student, rather than a straight shot toward a desired destination.

      I like this; that way the concept (e.g., how to solve the problem, how to answer the question how to analyze the poem...whatever learning objective you choose) remains, even if the details don't, and can be applied to similar (or different) scenarios.

    7. Playful pedagogy strives to infuse learning with the excitement and unpredictability of children’s play.

      During my career as a test prep teacher, I taught a few classes with students who were hard to engage. They were silent, which is so very difficult for a classroom setting that uses the Socratic method combined with group work as its foundation. The kids would sit in their groups and work independently. I finally created a quiz/board game amalgam (they dubbed it "Kateardy") that got them to interact not only with me but also with each other.

      Never underestimate the power of competition and candy when trying to bring teenagers out of their shells.

    8. There is a product—an essay, a project, an assignment—though that product may not necessarily contribute to the world of knowledge in any kind of productive way.

      Interesting juxtaposition of product versus productive. Wonder what the etymology is.

    9. separate from other aspects of life

      What about mimetic play?

    10. games, performances, and other “not serious” pursuits

      "Performances" Is such a broad category--I would argue that there are some performances (e.g., theatrical productions of plays) that are extremely serious.

    1. These women were the “guardians” of American children’s literature.64But they were also guardians of literacy.

    2. Such acts enable us to see not just the public text but also the private response. No book is the same once it has been marked. Its social function, its textual status, its place in literary his-tory or on library or home shelves has changed irrevocably

      Again, reminiscent of Iser's theories. Although, I wonder about the insight the juxtaposition of the public text and the private response, particularly the helpfulness of the latter. Will any random private response (i.e., annotation) do? Certainly, Melville's Marginalia provides insight, but what about a text with otherwise anonymous annotations?

      Also, this:

    3. That is the myth of print itself: that through the mechanical reproduction of identical copies, any single copy is as good as any other

      Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin!

    4. One copy should be as good as another.

      Like the letters practiced in copybooks?

    5. There is a maximal feel to these lines: a universal, almost biblical injunc-tive quality, as if the Ten Commandments were distilled here, not into the double tablets of the desert, but the double page of the girl’s copybook

      Yes, but the New England Primer, for example, was far form secular...check out "H" (My Book and Heart / Shall never part).

    6. Girls on both sides of the Atlantic were increasingly encouraged, throughout the eighteenth cen-tury, to develop skills in handwriting as part of a broader social education

      But were they allowed to do much with this perfectly feminine penmanship? Virginia Woolf's hypothetical Judith Shakespeare from A Room of One's Own comes to mind.

    7. The story told in writing manuals, like the story limned in Lionel Tolle-mache’s marginalia, is one of personal growth. And in the end, the true mark of an adult is the well-formed signature

      The metaphor of writing as personal growth seems a bit far-fetched to me.

    8. Adult writing, like adult signatures, is consistent

      May be an old wives' tale, but I'm pretty sure there's a popular theory that adults whose handwriting doesn't change are more likely to be sociopaths or serial killers or something of that...ilk.

    9. a goal of moral education

      Echoes of Plato's Republic...

    10. During these fifteen hundred years, writing masters made their livings training children to model their penmanship on proper forms.

      So, Lerer is talking about the aesthetic discipline of writing. Did this practice really end in the early twentieth century? Because I remember several units on proper penmanship during my elementary school years in the early to mid-90s.

    11. This is a study, then, of readers as much as of writers

      Iser? Iser.

    12. the annotator as an imaginative subject

      We haven't talked much about our imminent Billy Budd game yet, but I wonder if "the annotator" (child or novice adult or scholar) is a feasible "part" or "role."

    13. ater stains, bird droppings, rips by mice and dogs—all survive carefully encased in glass, like ruined leavings from some Pompeian library.

      I wonder if the paperback of Ulysses I spilled a Venti iced coffee on in 2009 will make it into one of these displays some day. Probably not, but a girl can dream, right?

    14. That children wrote in books and that their annotations may survive attest, for some, to an eternal common-place: this is something children did and do, whatever time or social world they live in.

      If this is something children do whatever time or social world they live in, do the margins begging to be written in become Twitter feeds and Facebook walls in a twenty-first century world?

    15. annotations that not only illustrate the cul-ture and the motives of the individual writer but also change, irrevocably, the status of the annotated book as artifact.

      This aim seems to combine not only reception history and reader-response theory but also Iser's ideas of the virtual text and the implied reader.

    16. Book history attends to the reception and the uses of the artifact: what is done to books as well as what has been done with books.

      How does reception theory as a mode of literary criticism fit here? Should there be a reception theory devoted merely to book as objects? What about Benjamin's ideas in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"?

    17. all children desire to fill in the blanks in books

      "Filling in the blanks" is not only having a moment but also aiming to reach a new audience. See Mo Willems's Don't Let the Pigeon Finish this Activity Book (2012) for ages 3-8 and the current trend of adult coloring books (Johanna Brasford's are so popular that she was moved from the Tarcher Perigee imprint at Penguin Random House to Penguin proper) and activity books like Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal.

    1. Still, Captain Delano was not without the idea, that had Benito Cereno been a man of greater energy, misrule would hardly have come to the present pass.

      Melville scholar Allan Emery posits that the nineteenth-century American doctrine of Manifest Destiny, in conjunction with popularized ideas about non-Anglo nations in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), informed the fictionalized Delano’s characterization of Benito.

      “Benito Cereno” was serialized over the last three 1855 issues of Putnam’s Monthly Magazine of American Literature, which published installments of Melville’s “Israel Potter” in between July 1854 and March 1855. In February 1854, Putnam’s Monthly published an anonymous article titled “Annexation” (pp. 183-194) that explicitly defends America’s right to the titular act.

      You can find the entire article here, but I've included what I thought to be one of the most relevant excerpts, as it demonstrates the common self-characterization of America as superior to other nations. Based on these ideas, which Melville would have been privy to (he likely read this very article), one could argue that Delano and Benito are a metonymic representation of the United States and the "others" it wished to annex.

      …we own no subject nations, no colonial victims, no trembling provinces—and we never desire to own them;—we waste no fields, we ruin no cities, we exhaust no distant settlements;—the weak Indian tribes among us we have striven to redeem and civilize; the weak Mexican and Spanish races among us, a prey to anarchy and misrule, we offer the advantages of stable government, of equal laws, of a flourishing and refined social life; and we aim at no alliances which are not founded on the broadest principles of reciprocal justice and goodwill (p. 191)

      Note that the author describes the “Mexican and Spanish races” as “prey to anarchy and misrule,” and that Melville uses “misrule” (for the second time) to describe the result of Benito’s shortcomings.

      On a linguistic note, the etymology of “annexation” (the noun form of the verb “annex”) outlined on OED Online reveals a few different but related Latin roots; chiefly, annect-ĕre, which means “to tie to,” but also nect-ĕre, which has a slightly different meaning of “to tie, to bind.” The second word much more explicitly connotes the act of violent enslavement. Given the political climate at the time, the use of “annexation” in describing American expansionism seems like a code to shroud the scant differences between westward expansion and the practice of slavery.


      Why did Melville change the name of the slave ship from Tryal to San Dominick? A few separate searches for “San Dominick” resulted in “Benito Cereno” excerpts only. But then I remembered some excerpts from Toussaint L’Ouverture I read last semester in English 395…

      L’Ouverture was one of the leaders the Haitian Revolution that took place in the then-French colony of Saint Domingue from 1791 to 1804. While this rebellion, which can be reductively classified as a nation-wide slave-revolt against imperialist forces, ended fifteen years before Melville was born, it received renewed attention under the name “Santo Domingo” or “St. Domingo” starting in the 1830s and continuing through the Civil War, as issues regarding slavery came to the forefront of the collective American conscious. In addition to being alluded to in myriad newspaper articles, St. Domingo featured in academic circles. Here are some sources:

      The History and Present Condition of St. Domingo by J. Brown, M.D. (1837)

      St. Domingo, its revolution and its hero, Toussaint Louverture by Charles Wyllys Elliott (1855)

      Historical sketches of the revolutions, and the foreign and civil wars in the Island of St. Domingo, with a narrative, of the entire massacre of the white population of the island by Peter Stephen Chazotte (1840)

      The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture: the negro patriot of Hayti; comprising an account of the struggle for liberty in the island, and a sketch of its history to the present period by Rev. John R. Beard (1853)

      Here's an image from the last title that seems particularly applicable to "Benito Cereno."

    3. some things which could never have happened

      In 2006, Catherine Toal published an essay in Nineteenth-Century Literature titled "Some Things Which Could Never Have Happened: Fiction, Identification, and 'Benito Cereno'." Toal argues that the form Melville uses in "Benito Cereno" (i.e., the fictionalization of real events) can be traced to a letter he wrote to Nathaniel Hawthorne three years before "Benito Cereno" was published.

      In the letter, which scholars have labeled "The Agatha Story," Melville writes, "...you can construct a story of remarkable interest out of this material...You have a skeleton of actual reality to build about with fulness & veins & beauty." Toal contends that this metaphor is reversed in "Benito Cereno" vis-à-vis Melville’s attempts to construct a skeleton around the source material.

      While this connection is not wholly intertextual, it does demonstrate that the trope of using “actual reality” as fictional fodder is something Melville thought about quite a bit.

  4. Feb 2016
    1. Whenever good counsel was at a premium, the fairy tale had it, and where the need was greatest, its aid was nearest.

      Once upon a time (haha), fairy tales were quite violent--the ones we know today have been diluted through centuries of storytelling. There's a theory that the gore of these stories served a purpose: to provide a fantasy world to help children cope with a harsh or dangerous reality.

    2. He is ready to make it completely his own, to devour it, as it were. Indeed, he destroys, he swallows up the material as the fire devours logs in the fireplace.

      This seems like a rather violent portrait of the novelist. One that evoked (at least in my mind) this 1823 painting by Goya:

      Saturn Devouring His Son

    3. In point of fact, he has succeeded in abbreviating even storytelling.

      Benjamin would not like Twitter. Although, perhaps retweeting is a 21st century incarnation of what he writes at the end of this paragraph: "...the perfect narrative is revealed through the layers of a variety of retellings."

      Is retweeting the new retelling?

    4. "Writing," he says in one of his letters, "is to me no liberal art, but a craft."

      I can't read this without rolling my eyes. The idea of writing as craft was likely novel (get it?) for Leskov--and Benjamin too, apparently--but I'm immediatley reminded of myriad conversations with would-be, actual, or former MFA-ers who go on and on and on about "honing their craft."

    5. Experience which is passed on from mouth to mouth is the source from which all storytellers have drawn.

      Benjamin's focus is understandably European, but a great North American example of the oral tradition is Native American cultures. Stephanie Fitzgerald and Hilary E. Wyss wrote a great article on the oral tradition and other alternative texts in "Land and Literacy: The Textualities of Native Studies" (2010).

    6. What ten years later was poured out in the flood of war books was anything but experience that goes from mouth to mouth.

      Benjamin's point that the content of post-World War I literature meagerly conveyed experience, if at all, is valid; however, many of these texts that were/are seemingly devoid of such experience (or perhaps stories) have since been labeled masterpieces of literary modernism due to the emphasis on form rather than content. But to be fair to Benjamin, who wrote this piece in 1936, we have a complete picture of the literary trends of the twentieth century that he could not have.

    1. The most innovative aspect of Benjamin’s argument is its framing of the novel, not as a distinctive narrative mode in an evolutionary sequence of literary forms, but as a function of changing relationships between storytellers and their auditors with the advent of printed books.

      Benjamin published "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" the same year as "The Storyteller" (1936). I wonder how Benjamin's idea of mechanical reproduction, which I recall as primarily visual, pertains to literary forms. Also, I think this intersection dovetails with Rubery's discussion of Victorian culture and aural literature.

    1. If there is a sense in which no one ever reads a Dickens plot for the first time, it is because that story has been heard to some extent before it has been read. A Christmas Carol is only the most obvious example of such a twice-heard tale.

      Housing Works hosts an annual "marathon" reading of A Christmas Carol called "What the Dickens?" Here's the lineup/info from this past December.

    2. The recitation of a scene that takes a mere ten minutes to read silently to one’s self can take upwards of forty minutes when read aloud before an audience.

      Audiobooks take away readerly agency, transforming readers into listeners. It seems that through audiobooks, literary audiences become more like theatrical audiences, and therefore engage less directly with the written text, or "text itself."

    1. Re: audiobooks...

      I took a course with a reading list of recently published "high-brow" literary works. When we read Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs (2009), a blind classmate commented that the audiobook narrator sounded like a ditzy, college-aged Carrie Bradshaw, which affected his perspective of Moore's narrator, who most students characterized as a somewhat intense and reserved young woman. To me, this distinction reinforces McLuhan's idea that the medium is the message--the words were the same, but the audiobook offered a different interpretation from the one Moore seemingly hinted at in the text itself.

    2. Rather, screen-based media constitute a matrix from which new forms spring—blogs, tweets,and feeds, for example—and older ones are “remediated,” a process in which old content is transformed in and through a new medium (Bolter and Grusin 5).

      Does this mean that the tablet/smartphone/computer/etc. is the container while the various forms that appear on that container are the media?

    1. In what Walter Ong calls “primary oral culture,” after all, the literary act is perhaps best conceived not as transmission at all instead but as community—the original village behind Marshall McLuhan’s mediated global village.

      "The medium is the message." What is the message of the medium of Web 2.0?

    2. Similarly, blog and social-network platforms can be used to engage with literary works. For instance, one team of students in the 2008 version of my Literature+ course used the LiveJournal blogging platform to create profile pages for the characters in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. They themed each profile page with images and language they thought appropriate to the character and then wrote comments “in character” on other characters’ pages or on a shared community page (e.g., the Miller commenting rudely on the Knight’s or Wife of Bath’s pages, much as Chaucer’s original Miller was wont to do).

      This reminds me of Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre (2014) and various Twitter accounts of long-deceased authors.

    3. Reader-response and reception theory, for instance, elevated reading activity in the circuit.

      Hans Robert Jauss, Wolfgang Iser

    4. I refer in particular to literary theory from the 1960s onward—precisely Landow’s reason for analogizing hypertext to Barthes and other poststructuralists.

      How do the ideas Barthes presents in his 1967 essay "The Death of an Author" coincide with social reading in the context of Web 2.0? It seems that the previously deceased author has been resurrected, or perhaps undergone a simultaneous reincarnation and multiplication through the dynamic web page. However, given the anonymity that the Internet facilitates, the author(s) can stay dead, rendering the reader's evaluation of the "text 'itself'" much more feasible. In the context of the digital age, perhaps the author is indeed dead but inhabits a ghost-like space.