Digital Literary Culture

From Salman Rushdie’s Twitter feed and Amazon to Bookstagram and GoogleScholar, there is no doubt that digital technology has had a significant impact on the literary landscape. And yet in literary studies, our engagement with the impact of digital technology on how literature is read, criticized, and produced is still in its infancy. Much of the existing research on digital literary studies is focused on anomalous projects that are closer to performance art pieces than what we might call mainstream literary culture or they study pre-digital literary topics using digital humanities tools and methods. While this research is necessary and valuable, it does not often concern itself with digital-born literary culture—i.e. how exactly contemporary literary culture is mitigated by digital technology. Everything from literary prizes and the academic canon to celebrity authors and reader reviews exists within a digital framework. Much of my previous research explores the connection between digital platforms like social media and literary culture for Indian authors writing in English. My current book project focuses on Digital Literary Culture more broadly.

Selected Publications

“Inside and Outside the Literary Marketplace: The Digital Products of Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, and Salman Rushdie” South Asian Review. 7 May 2019.

“The Man Who Would be Popular”: An Analysis of Salman Rushdie’s Twitter Feed. Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 1 December 2016.

Reframing Salman Rushdie: The Politics of Representation and New Media in Transnational Public Culture ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018.

Introduction and “‘Parallel Realities’: Salman Rushdie’s Experiment with Transmedia Narratives . Words, Worlds, and Narratives: Transmedia and Immersion. Ed. Tawnya Ravy and Eric Forcier. Freeland: Interdisciplinary Press, 2014.

Book Review of Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days. The Humanist. 22 December 2015.

Tawnya Ravy. Rev. of Unreliable Truths: Transcultural Homeworlds in Indian Women’s Fiction of the Diaspora by Sissy Helff. South Asian Review 34.2(2013): 147-150.

Digital Composition

All composition is digital. Even analog compositions touch the digital in ways we have yet to fully theorize. While the fields of composition and rhetoric have, for decades now, argued for expanded definitions of literacy to include multimodal composition practice and digital rhetoric, much of our general approach to teaching writing ignores the profound impact that digital technology has had on composition. Digital composition doesn’t just mean “build a website” or “host a podcast,” but rather a deep awareness of all the ways that communication today relies on digital technology. Prevalent attitudes about our students as “digital natives” coupled with massive inequality in access and instruction in digital literacies means that students lack the tools and the critical framework to thrive in a knowledge economy that is increasingly dependent on digital literacy. To act as though the existence of a computer and word processor is a simple substitute for a pen or typewriter or the internet for a library is to do a disservice to students who could benefit from critical engagement with these technologies and the opportunities and challenges they afford. My current work in progress in this area focuses on how composition faculty scaffold digital literacy in their courses and the relationship between the concepts of “digital” and “literacy.”

Selected Publications

Forthcoming: “Wikipedia: One of the Last, Best Internet Spaces for Teaching Digital Literacy, Public Writing, and Research Skills in First Year Composition” Computers and Composition, Spring 2023

“Implementing Faculty Development in Multimodal Composition: A Case Study” Professionalizing Multimodal Composition: Faculty and Institutional Initiatives, edited by Shyam B. Pandey and Santosh Khadka, Routledge 2021.

Designing, Scaffolding, and Evaluating Multimodal Assignments Digital Presentation and Worksheet, Innovations in Teaching and Learning 2020, George Mason University

Digital Divide / Community Engaged Teaching

The Covid-19 pandemic amplified the already notable fissures between the digital “haves” and “have-nots” across the globe. It also made real an otherwise abstract social justice issue for many of the students taking my Bridging the Digital Divide course who suddenly found themselves in circumstances where digital access and/or literacy was a significant issue. This course usually features a significant community-engagement component where students work directly with nonprofit organizations and various communities to address some aspect of the digital divide. We were unable to work with our partner organizations who were overwhelmed with trying to develop new ways of serving their communities. Instead, we developed a plan to bring representatives from tech industry leaders like Google and Microsoft and non-profit organizers from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Computer Core to hear the students’ concept pitches. The students were not only able to practice shaping their writing and speaking for a public audience, but also they glimpsed the immense potential in bringing a variety of players to the brainstorming table—as well as the limitations of such a move in pursuing social justice. My research seeks to unpack some of the critical issues with how industry and nonprofit leaders are working to address the digital divide and the role that community-engaged academia might have in facilitating (and critiquing) such work. To learn more about my work with community engagement, click here.

Selected Publications

Work in Progress: Community Engagement and the Covid-19 Pandemic, ed. Tawnya Azar. Vernon Press

One thought on “Research

  1. Pingback: The New Digital Humanities with Tawnya Ravy | Tawnya Ravy

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