Teaching Literature in the Technology Classroom, and Technology in the Literature Classroom: The Case of William Blake
|Hecimovich, Gregg (252) 412-2223
| Assistant Professor
| East Carolina University
Abstract (up to 200 words):
My presentation examines the ways in which William Blake's artistic vision prefigures the iconographic construction of the world wide web. Digitization is not a notion confined to electronic devices, but a technological norm that operates across a spectrum of materials and processes. The organizing principle behind Blake's Illuminated poetry and digital technology, I maintain, hold instructive parallels. In both, complex operations are mechanized by being broken into simpler operations. More efficient divisions depend upon some binary or digital segment by which all things can be reduced to two bits, 0-1, on-off. Blakes process of relief printing is just such a technology, with the raised text functioning as a 1, or on, and the relief area as a 0, or off. Twenty-six letters in the Latin alphabet, plus ten numerals and a few accidentals, extend the range of information stored in the two bits of 1-0, on-off. By providing alphabetic technology as moveable type, two bits begin to hold the power of all written expression. Like typesetting, or the division of all words into a small group of uniform letters, Blakes relief etchings practice the power of digitization, only for Blake digitized content is conceived and executed as an integrated visual field. Like contemporary digital software, Blakes art consists of segmented packets of meaning arranged and processed in a fashion that looks forward to the Composite Arts of the digital age. By exploring the possibilities of studying current digital technology with the tools of literary analysis, and literary analysis with the tools of digital technology, my presentation offers a cross-disciplinary approach for teaching literature in the technology classroom, and for teaching technology in the literature classroom.
Short presentation (20 minutes)
C9 - Fr 4:30 - 5:15