Disguised Tales: A Masqueraded Complexity in Children's Electronic Literature

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This paper explores what I define as a “masqueraded complexity”, a term that refers to the way
children’s electronic literature disguises its multiple features to a formative reader (the child/young adult) in order to maintain/assert the whole range of semiotic and narratological creative approaches allowed in this new literary scenario. The paper paper also examines the lights and shadows of children's digital literature's inherent properties from an educational perspective. To support this exploration, I combine theoretical approaches to digital literature (Ryan, Murray, Hayles, Landow, etc.), the exploration of the digital literature landscape for youngsters and recent studies on children's literary education (Chambers, Colomer, Tauveron etc.). Some of my own research group ongoing case studies with real young digital readers will also be used to illustrate the outcomes.
Despite its obvious heterogeneity, electronic literature presents a series of common complexities
intrinsically connected to the constructive properties that define it, such as multimodal expression, non-trivial engagement, and narratological disruption. Children's literature could also be understood as a polymorphic set of texts; however, the formative reader (the child) becomes an anchor during the creative act that assembles this set of texts. The awareness of this reader’s existence and her role forces authors to find ways to express their art within certain required limits in the complexity. In combination with the particular contexts where this group of texts are received, the resulting poetics denote a closeness between the electronic literature's properties and those of children's literature (e.g. interactivity and immersion as ways to maximize readers emotional engagement and the seduction of reading). This provocative and stimulating scenario is increasing scholars' interest towards children's e-lit in a very hopeful way but the rawness in the formative and definitional process of this new corpus is still quite obvious, far removed from mainstream electronic literature's solid evolutive paths (e.g. avant-garde expressions of e-poetry, the different hyperfiction generations and so forth).
Nevertheless, children’s e-literature is already managing to find a way to deal with this required
dialogue between these new literary features and the fact that its users are still not fully developed as readers/spectators. This status quo urges to reflect on children and young adult's electronic literature’s future as well as become aware that a new approach to our literary education is necessary. This new approach should account for the electronic literature's formative potential for a contemporary reader. (Source: authors abstract)

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Jill Walker Rettberg