Sunday, September 28, 2008

Study challenges e-book assumptions

Initial observations from the UK's national e-book observatory are already challenging assumptions about how students use e-books.

According to Lorraine Estelle CEO of JISC Collections, in the first user survey, which received over 22,000 responses, 62 per cent of students reported that they read online whilst only 6 per cent said that they print to read. The survey also indicated that interactivity may not be as important to students as anticipated. 'Students say that the main attraction is that e-books within an academic setting, are more accessible than print books, meaning that users can get at them wherever they are and at whatever time they like,' explained Estelle.

The UK’s first national e-book observatory, which is funded by JISC, will provide empirical data about the use of e-books in 127 universities. It aims to provide publishers and e-book aggregators with a picture of how students use their course texts in the digital environment. The outcomes of the research will help inform the creation of business models as well as the future format of e-books, based on the real needs of the users.

The outcomes of the research will be published in spring 2009.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The End of the English Novel

The novel has always smacked of inadequacies. It is regularly less than what is expected of it. Or worse, it is more. But rarely the thing we had in mind, never quite settling upon an identity that it is easy to be happy about. Fifty years ago Ortega y Gasset confidently pronounced it dying. Twenty years ago, Marshall McLuhan tried hard to demonstrate that it was already dead. It wasn’t, and, for some reason, still isn’t, still very much available as an attractive even if expensive instance of Randall Jarrell’s weak apology for it: ‘A longish piece of prose with something wrong with it.’

Since the war, the British novel has developed its own indigenous difficulties, or, at least, its own vernacular of complaint. When Gore Vidal remarked at the recent Edinburgh Festival that there are only ‘middle class novels for middle class readers with middle class problems’ he was echoing a tired charge that has become as predictable as much of the writing occasioning it. For John Sutherland, the complaint was raised to its most explicit by the best sellers list five years ago, dominated with eerie appropriateness by the publication of Jane Austen’s Sandition, inviting the observation that the books that are published and purchased still belong very much to that novel of sense and sensibility which has merely been written and re-written for nearly two centuries. Bernard Bergonzi’s dark phrase is, in this context, ominously emblematic: the novel is no longer novel.

This vocabulary of termination has suddenly acquired a significance which has authoritatively dropped it from the theoretical to the base, real court of the marketplace. The Current Crisis in Publishing is, we understand from the many articles it has generated, of unprecedented proportions, and is noisy with terrible doomsday pronouncements. But it is not, in the end, the book as object which is threatened – for more are appearing (if briefly) than ever before, although their number and kind have enlarged the image of publishing to something uncomfortably akin to the fast food industry – but the book as fiction, as an instance of literature: not the things in the window or on the railway platform, but the stuff apparently too cumbersome to consume on the run.

The implications of the present Crisis are obvious. It’s not simply that a literature exists which many find disappointing. It’s that we are being told, from now on, it can be no other way. There are reasons for it — the rising costs of this or that, the ‘pound’, inflation, foreign markets — and the reasons are real in a simple pocketbook way. Faced with many English novels, I confess I’d rather watch television. Faced recently by their price, I see I have no choice.

Link to Full Article

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Language and Literature: A Good Resource

Teaching English Language and Literature

Gurleen Ahluwalia, Lecturer in Communication Skills, Department of Applied Sciences,
BBSB Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab has sent this link that seems to be quite useful for students.

It has a module on UGC NET also.

Friday, September 19, 2008

An Investigation of the Stone and the Shadow

A Poem by Giorgio Agamben

The Lion dreams
and dreams the Rose.
The Rose dreams
and dreams the King.
The King dreams
and dreams the law.
The law dreams
and dreams grace.
Grace dreams
and dreams the circle.
The circle dreams
and dreams the line.
The line dreams
and dreams pain.
Pain dreams
and dreams the scale.
The scale dreams
and dreams the shadow.
The shadow dreams
and dreams Gold.
Gold dreams
and dreams the stone.
The stone dreams
and dreams the serpent.
The serpent dreams
and dreams poison.
Poison dreams
and dreams death.
Death dreams
and dreams destiny.
Destiny dreams
and dreams life.
Life dreams
and dreams the mask.
The mask dreams
and dreams god.
God dreams
and dreams the word.
The word dreams
and dreams the Rose.
The Rose dreams
and dreams man.

Man dreams
and dreams the stone.

[First published forty years ago in the journal Nuovi Argomenti (11), July-September 1968.]