E-lit, the Final Frontier.

Brendan Brooks

It’s hard, it’s confusing, it’s annoying at times, so why read electronic literature at all? We can all remember back to when we were first read to. Books like Where the Wild Things Are taught us not to fear monsters, Mr Pines Purple House taught us to accept differences and the adventures of Whinny the Poo gave us an imaginary literary friend. Then we started to read to ourselves. Picking our way through the leveled readers until we became comfortable with books that had no pictures. Slowly as we worked our way through reading books became lees and less scary. We were taught the rules and how it worked. Learned that stories usually have a hero and a villain, and we were comfortable.

Next enter Poetry, and it was right back to the hesitation. It was uncomfortable and hard. We were presented with a new form of storytelling where there were no heroes or villains except for the words themselves and the picture they were painting, but slowly we became comfortable with them. We picked up rhythm and tone, beat and meter, and everything was right with words again. For the next few years everything was fine. Heroes and villains were replaced with protagonists and antagonists. Poems became sonnets then evolved into full blown uncontrolled Shakespeare. Everything however had a point of reference and people who had read it before to guide us through. So we strolled along our merry academic reading way.

So why read electronic literature? Read it because when was the last time you had to learn to read again? Not since our first Dr. Seuss book of poetry have we been confronted with an entirely new way of looking at literature. Electronic literature is still very much in its infancy. There is not a Coles notes for The Cape, there are not millions of papers written on Nio, instead it is up to us to lay the groundwork. That is an exciting frontier to be walking towards. When electronic literature is being taught in fifth grade we will be able to look back and see where it first took root. There are very few places left to explore anymore so why not turn to the literary world again? and really isn’t a good piece of literature supposed to take you on an adventure anyway?


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