When I first saw this question, I was having a bit of trouble understanding exactly what was being asked. After a long few minutes of really thinking to myself, I think in simpler terms, this question is asking me to think about whether or not the digital aspect of this class had an effect on the way that I read and understand literature.
When I first decided to take on this class and saw that it was called “Literature in the Digital Age,” I thought we were just going to be discussing how literature has now changed in this time of advanced technology. Although this was partially correct for some of our assignments, I could not have been more wrong when we were studying Walden, the real heart of the class in my opinion.
Throughout pretty much the entirety of the course, we were asked to read a select chapter or essays from Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden. He talks about living the simple life in the woods. How did this change my idea of studying literature? Well, the whole entire book was online, not in paper form. To add to this online experience, classmates comments could be seen throughout the “book” as you were reading the assigned section.
Being a person who went to a high school where the curriculum was pretty much based around technology, this whole idea of doing stuff online was not a shock to me. However, we always read our books the traditional way. So reading Walden in a non tangible form was definitely an odd experience for me. The thing that really threw me off was the comments my classmates would make throughout the book. The way I usually read is that I do not like to get any outside ideas or opinions before forming my own. Reading other’s comments while I was reading the online text was distracting to me. I basically had to come up with a new way of reading, which for some might be cool but for me, I get the most out of reading when it is uninterrupted and while I value my classmate’s ideas, it would have been better for me if they were not there while I was reading. (Yes I know you can hide them while reading, but it still alerts you to their existence and I was tempted to look anyway).
Also, although we had some discussion in class about the book, most of the conversations took place online prior to class. It made me realize something about myself. I enjoy in person discussion so much more than online discussion. To me, when a person speaks what they feel instead of writing it, it has more impact when engaging in a discussion or a debate. I really enjoy the natural flow of a conversation as opposed to the robotic way we all write.
Let me make this very clear, I am not trashing the convenience and luxury of doing things online. Look at what’s happening in the world right now. The fact that we are able to finish the semester online is remarkable and I am grateful for having the ability to complete my studies and not fall behind. In my opinion though, some things should be left to be done in person.
So, how has this class changed my view of studying literature? It made me realize how much I love the feel of turning the page of a book, and the voices of others around me.