Claire Taylor, Professor of Hispanic Studies, was invited to speak at a workshop on Screening the Literary: Writing Quality on the Web, which was organized by the Authors and the World group at the University of Lancaster on 28 October 2016. In this short Q+A, Claire tells us about the event and her contribution to it.
So Claire, who organized the event and what was it about?
The event was organized by the Authors and the World group, which is an AHRC-funded collaboration between researchers in the departments of European Languages & Cultures, English & Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Contemporary Arts (LICA) at Lancaster University. Their aim is to interrogate the literary, social, political, linguistic, and historical significance of the author as a cultural artefact and a producer of literary texts.
The one-day workshop focused on how the digital environment affects authors’ approaches to writing, in terms of practice, aims, and content. It looked at issues such as to what extent the concept of ‘literariness’ changes in a digital context. It had a comparative approach, bringing together scholars working in French, German and Hispanic contexts, as well as practitioners.
Were there any outstanding moments in the day?
Everyone gave great papers, with much food for thought, so it’s hard to choose! That said, what perhaps stood out most for me was the presentation by Claire Dean, who is both author and scholar, and told us about her creative writing practices. In her talk, entitled ‘Making Wonder Tales: Developing a Digital Writing Practice’, she not only made us re-think the terminology that we use to describe creators today, but she also gave us fascinating insights into her creative practice that brings together writing, digital technologies, and material artefacts. For instance, she told us about her projects that have, amongst other things, used technology to connect to MOSS, capture environmental data to determine what stories would be available online, and use mapping and altitude levels to generate stories. It was really exciting to hear about her practice, and to hear from an author herself about how she negotiates new technologies.
What was your contribution to the workshop?
I was invited to speak specifically about Hispanic Digital literature, so I chose two examples: the Spanish-Argentine author Belén Gache, and the Latino author Eduardo Navas. My talk was entitled ‘From Print to Tweets: Tracing the Heritage of Digital Genres’, and I argued that these two authors demonstrate in their works a dialogue with existing, pre-digital genres; in other words, that, all the while using new technologies, they speak back to a rich, non-Anglophone tradition of literary experimentation. I looked at how their dialogue with pre-digital literary movements is both critical and self-aware, and how they update prior literary genres for the twenty-first century.