Engineering Language: Electronic Literature, the “Value” of Words, and the Teaching of College Writing

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Since the widespread adoption of the printing press, we have been writing with and for machines. However, the ways in which and the extent to which machines could participate in acts of writing have changed over time. We have now reached a point where machines play an active role not only in the reproduction and distribution of writing, but in its production and, even, at times, in its creation and composition. As we find ourselves more and more writing with and for machines, there is the possibility that compositional functions once assigned uniquely to humans can be outsourced or automated. In this paper, I discuss the ways in which my 2016 electronic literary work, “At, Or To Take Regret: Some Reflections on Grammars” ( draws attention to the issues, implications, and possible consequences of compositional automation for the teaching and learning of college writing and the ways in which this and other works of electronic literature can be used in a contemporary college writing course to discuss the affordances and functions of writing in different medial environments. The paper engages with the work of Annette Vee, Stuart Moulthrop, N. Katharine Hayles, Franco Berardi, and Michael Halliday in its consideration and discussion of the changing value(s), definitions, and functions of literacy and literacy education in the early twenty first century.

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Li Yi