Tolva addresses the anxieties which attend "our culture's slow
passage from print to electronic textuality." He begins by
looking at the similarities between Plato's arguments against the
written word in the Phaedrus and modern arguments against
the electronic word. Our fear that hypertext will stifle or
control rather than liberate thought is a typical reaction in the
face of technology's "most recent novum monstrum."
Anxiety also focusses on the "fear of pollution" within
scholarship. What happens to scholarly standards when publishing
a work in electronic form requires considerably less effort than
submitting a printed text? Tolva moves on to discuss the fuzzy
boundaries between verbal and non-verbal representation within
electronic text. He uses W. J. T. Mitchell's definition of
ekphrasis to describe the visual ways in which one
experiences electronic text. A sort of "ekphrastic fear"
influences the anxiety over electronic text's "graphical
manipulability of digital words." Ultimately, Tolva asserts that
we must let go of our anxieties about electronic text and recall
our own power to shape these new technologies. "We can wallow in
gloomy self-pity . . . or we can try to devise ways of reading
electronic text in the bathtub without electrocuting ourselves."
(Stephanie Hill Simione.)
Text: Selective Annotated Bibliography.
Department of English, University of Minnesota
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created 7 May 1995
Last revised 17 September 1996