The Paradox of Electronic Literature in the Classroom: The Challenges for New Literacy Practices within the Platformized School

Abstract (in English): 

Reviewing the history of computing, the educational potential of new ways of knowledge representation and new literary affordances have sparked many influential ideas and reform efforts, spanning from “frantic systems” (Nelson, 1970) to constructionist discovery learning (Papert, 1993) to the reconfiguration of literary education (Landow, 2006, ch. 7). Yet, the current usages of electronic literature in education arguably fall behind those early anticipations. Therefore, this paper explores the wider educational and social entanglements that withhold electronic literature from entering classrooms in the context of current technology transformations. Considering the recent pandemicrelated global upsurge of the digitalization of educational systems, the mere lack of supply of digital devices and equipment will cease to be the main obstacle for the adoption of electronic literature in K12 classrooms. Nonetheless, the question shifts to what imaginaries and discourses shape (and limit) the use of new digital literary affordances. Reviewing current trends, three issues are identified. These concern (1) fixations of technological disruption, (2) literacy learning objectives and (3) the marginalization of teaching. The focus on technological disruption (and solutionism) refers to a tendency for innovators to overly emphasize particular technological aspects and to become fixated on their “disruptive” benefits while disregarding the need for cultural and artistic conventions and communities of education practices to grow within the digital medium. Secondly, the problematization of learning objectives relates to a prioritization of basic skills and 21st century workforce preparation while neglecting the need to address new critical literacy practices. Rather than responding with a restricted, preservationist stance limited to paper-based literacy, educators and authors may find ways of combining material affordances and electronic literature to introduce wider literacy conceptions in educational practice. In a similar vein, the marginalization of teaching is concerned with how technology is being used to quantify, classify and control teaching practices within new regimes of digital governance. In other words, teachers are being increasingly framed as technicians and behavioral managers in place of enhancing their role as “cyberbards” (Murray, 2016). Given that some of the issues raised correspond to known problems in the field of electronic literature, they also provide opportunities for further transdisciplinary research into the production and adaptation of electronic literature for educational purposes.

(Source: the abstract of the work)

Critical writing referenced:


ELO 2021: E-lit in contexts, May 28

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Lene Tøftestuen