Student Reflection – It Helps to be in on the Joke (8.2)

By Jillian Hovatter

In the past when engaging with a piece of e-lit, the term e-lit didn’t even cross my mind. I have explored online born texts and played digital games, but I had never really analyzed them. At most I might have thought about some of the visual or audio aspects, but I never gave consideration to the technical elements and how things like programming language or platform impacted the broader experience. The semester I was enrolled in digital literary studies I was also taking Intro to Comics and I feel both courses have given me a deeper engagement with analyzing the visual aspects of less traditional text formats. The variety of things to consider when working with digital born texts all impact agency and the ability to break down those different elements has helped inform my ability to perform media specific analysis.

Peeling back the layers of a digital born text is an involved process that goes beyond the methods of analysis employed when analyzing print text. In addition to the message of the text, we have to include all that goes into the creation of the digital born text and the medium necessary to engage with the text. The visual and audio elements that appear on a screen are merely the surface component of the text, the code is the root of the creation and the platform on which you engage with a text are all equally important in understanding the digital experience. Each level of the text must be examined and taken into consideration because all of it impacts how a user views their agency. Interestingly, in the past when playing video games or messing around with a digital born text I would become overjoyed or frustrated by my interactions with them. I now have an understanding that a few of these reactions were directly related to the agency I had when interacting with the texts. I can now look at the aesthetic elements and the technical elements of a text and gain a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of each piece of e-lit. Instead of simply noticing a certain sound used in a text, I can analyze how that sound contributes to the text. I can move between a text on a computer and a phone and see how each medium changes the experience.

By creating our own works of e-lit after exploring our chosen texts we helped shape how we wanted our work to be experienced. By also using my theory application project for a video essay I got to understand how the two different mediums impacted the agency of the person viewing the different texts. I definitely intend to utilize media specific analysis in the future. The way it helps with the close reading of digital born texts was exceptionally useful when it came time to analyzing agency.