Transliteracy Colloquium – Summing Up

Translit Colloquium 001While everyone has an hour to work in their groups, refining the definition and characteristics of transliteracy, I'll add a bit about our summing up session. After lunch everyone had a chance to share ideas and ask questions to the panel about presentations or about the idea of transliteracy in general.


Translit ColloquiumAladdin began by noting that different systems call for different forms of perception and that important to him is a kind of overall “wholeness” to experience. For him transliteracy isn’t just about different modes but importantly that the different modes word together to generate an “integrated” experience.
I responded by clarifying that the web fiction of which I gave a tour, Dene Grigar’s Fallow Field, could offer an “immersive” experience especially if read by a more transliterate reader – then reading isn’t about paying attention to each mode and what the audio might do differently from the text etc…but that the story develops and each mode forms part of the “whole” story rather than the reader being aware of each mode separately (this is my personal stance of course and not that necessarily of the group).
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Next Dave Everit reminded us of Char Davies creating a piece of virtual reality art which created both a physical and biological experience which can be an example of transliteracy.
Mike Hiley piped up here to flag up an important point, that when we use the term transliteracy we must be sure not to refer (or suggest) only to “letters.” Mike says if anything we might want to foreground the term visual literacy because it is complex and composed of various literacies. I think we all agreed that transliteracy probably questions the (seeming) primacy of print.
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Although we had some examples of transliteracy – Kate Pullinger read from her current project, Chris Joseph talked about his production of transliterate work, and I showed a bit from Fallow Field – David Gauntlet asked what exactly will we be *doing* with transliteracy? Translit Colloquium 015
Thankfully Sue stepped in to answer the million dollar (or is it million pound) question by explaining that transliteracy is about tying ideas and people together. It can be a unifying idea that brings together people who thought there were different from others, it’s about creating networks, and products – and it’s all *in process.*
Toby Moores picked up on the idea that the PaRT group has been discussing, whether the “trans” in transliteracy suggests across or beyond or between. Several of us addressed this or at least hinted at our personal thoughts on this matter during our presentations but Toby made a very cogent expansion: “trans” can mean across but by going across we can think beyond/around established frameworks. Toby also noted, that for him, the addition of audio and visual forms a substantial part of transliteracy.
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Bruce picked up on Mike Hiley’s caveat that literacy suggests the “alphabet” by thinking about text in terms of image, how would be describe a paragraph in images rather than trying to describe an image in words? It’s important to flag-up non-textual literacies.
But what about the Elizabethan masque which engaged with all modes of representation? Hugo wanted to know why transliteracy now? What’s the utility value of the term?
Hugo is right to note a link with the past, after all transliteracy is about context and history, and hopefully transliteracy enables us to think of the Elizabethan masque in transliterate terms, perhaps in a way it hasn’t yet been thought of? Simon Perril added that Wagner is often used as an example of a kind of immersiveness that is often yearned for in music or narrative so transliteracy is about having a lens that allows us to look back at history.
Mohamed I., in response to Hugo, added that technology indeed has brought about at least two new things: scale and interactivity.
Aladdin jumped in here to explain that technology might be seen as a jumping off point, that it allows us to experience *things* in a completely new environment.
The final comment of our summing up was made by Mark. He wasn’t too sure of Wagner or the Elizabethan masque being adequate examples of transliteracy. Transliteracy, for Mark, put the focus on content and how we make joinings and relationships between the each bit of content which can exist on its own or in relation to many other parts.
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2 thoughts on “Transliteracy Colloquium – Summing Up

  1. Hi Dene,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Yup – I am Sue’s ph.d student. I’m working on a reading of web fictions (written by women) and their multimodal attributes alongside a feminist theoretical slant.
    I actually came across Fallow Field by googling for hours on the lookout for interesting fictions. 🙂

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