Textual Environments: The Reinventions of Reading in Electronic Literature
Dr. Élika Ortega

In this talk I discuss a literary phenomenon I typify as a textual environment. Textual environments are works of electronic literature made up of a print book component and an electronic one. Because of their distributed architecture, textual environments are, indeed, laboratories to observe and theorize the changing media landscape of electronic literary production found in the form of 5 1/4 floppy disks, CD-ROMs, Web applications, iPad apps, among others, vis-a-vis the stable presence of a print book component. A key characteristic of a textual environment is how the distributed components are linked through mechanisms taking the form of a script or design motif asking the reader to make the connections, or of having the print and electronic components “talk” to each other through computational means. In order to exemplify the phenomenon and ground my theorizations, I will survey Stephanie Strickland’s Vniverse, and Belén Gache’s El libro del fin del mundo (The Book of the End of the World). The selection of these works, one in English and one in Spanish is deliberate as I maintain the mechanisms underlying these works are non-language dependent and therefore they offer us a view into particular uses of media at a global scale. Ultimately, these works allow us to examine changing media-based reading/writing practices and indeed, the way reading is constantly being reinvented by works of electronic literature.

Élika Ortega received her PhD in Hispanic Studies from the University of Western Ontario in 2013. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas.