Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 3 / March 1, 1995 / Page 35



by Nancy Kaplan

On this page, you will find an extensive passage from Richard Lanham's recent book, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. I have chosen this excerpt because it provides the context for ideas and quotations to which my essay, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertexts, and Other Cultural Formations in the Late Age of Print," refers. Thus, I attempt to allow Professor Lanham to speak for himself, to represent his own views in his own way. Some of the links in the text will take you to the bibliography while others will take you to some portion of my essay.

The full text of Chapter 4, "The Extraordinary Convergence: Democracy, Technology, Theory, and the University Curriculum," is available electronically from the University of Chicago Press.

Lanham, R. A. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, pp. 4-8.

After the technology of the printing press enabled the rapid production of multiple copies of a work, copyright law emerged to establish a market for printed text. In a world of electronic word and image, literally every fundamental principle of that law, and hence of that marketplace, must be renegotiated. But the most fundamental questions posed for literary study by the electronic word emerge where we would last think to seek them, in our fundamental poetics -- and we might begin our survey there.

The late Eric Havelock, in his pioneering work on the Greek alphabet, stressed that an alphabet that could support a high literate culture had to be simple enough to be learned easily in childhood. Thoroughly internalized at that time, it would become a transparent window into conceptual thought. The shape of the letters, the written surface, was not to be read aesthetically; that would only interfere with purely literate transparency. "Reading" would not, except in its learning stages, be a self-conscious, rule-governed, re-creative act but an intuitive skill, a literate compact exercised on the way to thought.

This page is part of the article, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertexts and Other Cultural Formations in th e Late Age of Print."

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