Monday, August 20, 2007

Reception and Digital Texts

As GTxA points out, The current issue of the Iowa Web Review (TIR-W Volume 9 no. 1)is devoted to the work and ideas of Jason Nelson and Donna Lieshman, guest-edited by Stephanie Strickland and Marjorie Luesebrink. Titled “MultiModal Coding: Jason Nelson, Donna Leishman and Electronic Writing,”

Nelson and Luesbrink are "electronic authors" whose work forms part of my thesis corpus. A particular area of interest for my research is taken up in the interviews with Nelson and Leishman, that of reception and the role of the reader (the three Rs). Nelson voices a somewhat Romantic conceptualisation of text reception:

"Perhaps one of the strongest draws many find for e-lit is its relative lack of rules, existing forms, or established meanings and methods. It is quite freeing as an artist to simply explore one's imagination and texts with only technical constraints limiting the possible creatures birthed."

The emphasis on "technical constraints" is an interesting point, leading into contemplation of the materiality of digital texts´and the associated large body of scholarship. I would debate the "lack of rules" hypothesis, with technical innovation (or fetishization) not necessarily removing the contexts for these works. The social and cultural understandings and definitions (and "rules") for digital text reception is something I explore in my thesis research.

It seems Leishman approaches digital text authorship from the perceptive of the ideal reader, even down to the gender:

"I hope it is simultaneously visually alluring and difficult in terms of reaching clear understandings of the narrative. I have both a sense of making for someone else (a notional female) and needing to compel an encounter that is emotional."

In the language of both authors reception is, as one would expect, about the work being understood as an experience. The Iowa Review has done an excellent job of presenting both authors, with comments from the editors , examples of their work and them commenting on each others work.

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