The Paratexts of Inanimate Alice: Thresholds, Genre Expectations and Status

Abstract (in English): 

In her book Writing Machines, N. Katherine Hayles described the concept of thetechnotext. Hayles used this concept to provide an analysis of a range of texts, including online work, based on their materiality. The analysis described in this article complements this method by developing an approach that explores the conditions of production of contemporary digital literature. It achieves this aim by providing a close reading of the online paratextual elements associated with the first four episodes ofInanimate Alice by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph. In doing so, it modifies the print-based analytical framework provide by Gérard Genette and others to develop a detailed account of the off-site, on-site and in-file paratexts of this online work. It sets out a range of thresholds that mould the reception of this text. It also notes how they position it within wider discourses about genre, media, literature and literacy. This article concludes by exploring the limits of this paratextual reading. It discusses whether it provides an adequate account of the material conditions of these texts. It then seeks to integrate this approach into the vision of literary studies described by Hayles in Writing Machines.

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Jill Walker Rettberg