“Literature in the Digital Age” with Crystal Alberts

Episode 7:
Originally broadcast: August 8, 2009

Is a book on the web still a book? Do hyperlinks change the role of narrative? What is an author if anyone can publish anything whenever they want? These questions frame Why?’s first episode in front of a live audience. Recorded at the newly renovated opera house in New Rockford, North Dakota, guest Crystal Alberts will crack open “philosophy of literature” to help us investigate our assumptions about reading, writing, and art in general. An expert in “new media,” we will take the opportunity to ask her the kinds of questions that come up all-too-often in today’s computerized world. What does interactivity do to the experience of reading? How does the urgency of “hipness” compare with the time-tested lessons of the classics? What does the world “classic” mean anyway? Is the feel of paper on your fingers a necessary component of good reading?

Dr. Crystal Alberts holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She specializes in post-1945 American literature and culture, particularly on the roles of the archive and author in contemporary writing. She currently teaches in the areas of film, digital humanities, and new or emerging media. Dr. Alberts is the co-editor of a forthcoming volume entitled Novel in Tradition: Essays on William Gaddis. She also has articles in The Missouri Review, as well as Paper Empire: William Gaddis and the World System edited by Joseph Tabbi and Rone Shavers. She serves as the technical editor for the NEH-funded Elizabeth Barrett Browning Project and is a research associate for the Electronic Literature Organization.

WHY?’s host Jack Weinstein says, “Crystal is representative of the energy and learning that our newer scholars bring with them out of graduate school. She is more aware of the cutting edge than most people I know, and talking with her will be a challenge to my own assumptions, not just the listeners’. This will be a lively, exciting, and interactive episode.”

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