Critical examination of concepts relating to canon, preservation, and access

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Astrid Ensslin (University of Alberta), offers a critical examination of concepts relating to canon, preservation, and access. Adopting an essentially critical outlook on canonization as a process of scholarly and social elitization, she argues that material (financial, geographic, and technological) access has always been a discriminating, regulatory factor in canon development, even if we assume a dynamic concept of canon (Ensslin 2007) or a crowdsourcing, emergent approach (Rettberg 2013) that align with contemporary, fast changing technological developments. Ensslin’s paper focuses on the ​Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext ​(​EQRH​), published in two volumes between 1994 and 1995, which has been largely neglected by digital fiction scholarship, mainly because of incompatibility and obsolescence issues. Two of the works contained within this early, e-literary journal are highlighted in Grigar’s presentation. ​EQRH ​offers an interesting case study of a publishing strategy that combined primary material with authors’ own reading notes, thus anticipating the highly accessible preservation efforts made by the ​Pathfinders​ project (Grigar and Moulthrop 2013-2017)

Eastgate’s project did not live up to its own aspirations, arguably due to rapid technological changes and the costly adaptations needed to meet the expectations of today’s digital fiction audiences. Because, currently, a media archaeological approach is required to read and analyze the texts published in ​EQRH​, Ensslin demands a scholarly initiative to collaborate with the publishers on updating the series for web browsers and making it accessible as downloads, to allow for broader scholarly engagement with this important yet inevitably sidelined series of artefacts.

(source: ELO 2018, panel, speech)

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
Hypertext 1962

Publishers referenced:

Title Location
The Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext
134 Main Street
02472 Watertown , MA
United States
Massachusetts US
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Akvile Sinkeviciute