Date of Award

1-14-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kenneth Sherwood, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David B. Downing, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mike Sell, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Johanna Drucker, Ph.D.

Abstract

The parameters, both theoretical and practical, that define the uses and roles of the digital technology within the field of literary studies should be continuously rethought in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology and reach the best possible uses. In this context, the present study develops an approach -iCriticism- that redefines the roles and uses of the computer technology in the field of literary studies. I start by arguing against a number of popular assumptions about the computer which limit its uses to a mere tool or aid. I move from there to discuss the different views about using computational methods in literary studies, aligning my position with the theories, exemplified by Johanna Drucker's Speculative Computing, that approach the computer as susceptible to different agendas and show the possibility of "humanizing" it. The theoretical foundations of iCriticism are laid out in chapters II and III which review theories about the material aspects of texts leading to a conclusion about emergent materiality and a hybrid model for the multidimensionality and heterogeneity of texts. I also discuss ways to overcome the impasse in the e-book design. The last foundation for iCriticism is my theory of partnership / cyborgism which presents a model for the human-computer interaction based on a division of labor and an exchange of roles. I conclude this thorough review and analysis with a detailed list of iCritical principles and an illustrative table that contextualizes my approach in relation to previous efforts. The dissertation is concluded with a part that theorizes and describes a prototype for a platform for reading and teaching novels that I call iNovel. The main objectives achieved by this prototype is the demonstration, in a concrete example, of the applicability of iCriticism and the possibility, through experimenting, of reaching new formats for literary texts that take the utmost advantage of the digital medium.

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