Resituating Literature Teaching: E-literature, pedagogy and produmers

The rapid emergence of e-literature offers new possibilities and tools for interacting with and thinking about texts, and this reconfiguration of both the literary and textual potentialities (Gould, 2012) inevitably poses pedagogical challenges for teachers. While digital texts hold the potential to engage students and stimulate higher order thinking, teachers are increasingly under pressure to approach literacy and literature teaching in ways that are increasingly “fixed” by the normative demands of high-stakes, standardised tests (Comber, 2011). And although it is evident from a range of case study work that many teachers expertly engage their students with literature in digital environments, it is also apparent that when incorporated into classrooms, the practices associated with electronic texts often become “domesticated”, resisting transformative affordances (O’Mara & Laidlaw, 2011).

This presentation explores teachers’ knowledge of and experience in teaching e-literature in a context where both ‘literature’ and “literariness” are contested. In considering what makes a text worthwhile, scholars increasingly see the value of a text as contingent and context-specific with less emphasis on inherent qualities of texts than in the quality of the reader's textual experience, the complexity of the questions a reader can ask about a text, the extent to which these questions can be discussed with other readers, the relationship of a text to other texts and a text's status within a community and its influence through history (Nodelman & Reimer, 2003). The unique affordances (Kress, 2000) of e-literature will be explored, particularly increased opportunities for produmers (Towers, Smith & Bruns, 2005) to actively interact in the reading of, research into, discussion of and creation of digital literature.

The context of this presentation is the first phase of a longitudinal Australian research project that explores the possibilities and challenges present for teachers in harnessing the affordances of the digital for literature education. Drawing on survey and case study data, the presentation maps the professional knowledge of the teaching of e-literature. Discussion will include Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 teaching approaches (Lankshear, 2008), the challenges teachers encounter and means of support for the teaching e-literature. Findings will inform development of innovative pedagogies and interdisciplinary methodologies for teaching and researching e-literature.