Wheaton students are thinking outside the book by enrolling in Electronic Literature.
Dr. Gibson may not claim expertise, but he is by no means unprepared to introduce Electronic Literature to Wheaton. He has attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, where he completed a training program that he describes as “something like E-Lit boot camp.” Dr. Gibson recalls his experience of the E-Literature culture at DHSI as “wonderfully experimental and collaborative…there’s a sense among those who teach and research in the area that there is lots still to discover.”
Students who take the plunge into Electronic Literature can look forward to discovering forms of literature that cannot be found on a bookshelf. Course readings will include non-linear fiction that responds to the reader, allowing multiple readings, as well as “code works” that riff poetically on the language of computer code. Reading for class will also become a viewing experience, as some texts are laden with image, video, and animation. Oni Buchanan’s The Mandrake Vehicles, for example, begins as a stable block of text but then begins to shed letters before the reader’s eyes. The letters tumble to the bottom of the page and reassemble as new words.
In this course, students will test out this elastic, innovative, and interactive way of writing and reading. “I'm grateful,” says Dr. Gibson, “to teach at a place like Wheaton where professors enjoy the opportunity to create classes where they collaborate with students in the production of knowledge and the refinement of analytical practice.”