One of the reasons I’m so concerned about the relationship between this site and my current scholarly work (or lack thereof) is that my new project (or, as I’m beginning to think about it, my Imaginary New Project [INP]) focuses on the relationship between computer technologies and literary production. There’s been a tremendous amount of work done in this field from the computers-and-composition or computer-mediated-communication angle (see, only most obviously among possible links, Kairos, a journal of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy), and with the publication of Katherine Hayles’s Writing Machines, there’s beginning to be interest in such connections in more mainstream lit-crit circles.
What I’m interested in, however, is less what that relationship between writer and computer (or, for that matter, reader and computer) actually is than what we imagine it to be. How we envision, culturally speaking, the future of literature in the era of the Internet. In that fashion, the project is exploring (will explore) the mythologies, in the Roland Barthes sense, of the computer age.
There’s a connection to this here blog, though, that I haven’t quite unearthed*: the network — or so runs one of the most common commonplaces — makes possible new “spaces” for writing, new modes of publishing, new kinds of conversation. I certainly don’t dispute that (except for the usage of “space” to describe the virtual, which is an issue I’ll take up at another time). What I’m curious about is the relationship between those kinds of writing made possible in such spaces and the things we currently think of as “literary.” Is literature possible in the blogosphere? Does it currently exist? How will we know it when we see it?
I’m in the bibliography-building phases of this project, you see, so any suggestions (including disagreements, arguments, contradictions) would be much appreciated.
*I’d apologize for the mixed metaphor, except that it seems more apt to suggest that I meant that connection to be a rhizome anyway.