On 14 December at 12:00 Alexandra Milyakina will defend her doctoral thesis “Digitalization of Literary Education in the Context of Cultural Autocommunication” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Semiotics and Culture Studies).
Professor Peeter Torop, University of Tartu
Researcher Maarja Ojamaa, University of Tartu
Professor Raine Koskimaa, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)
Professor Piret Viires (Tallinn University)
Despite the common concern, young people today are engaging with literature more than ever, albeit in the ways that are not always recognized. Literary education in the digital age implies navigating a heterogeneous world of metatexts in different media and integrating them into a coherent whole. Rather than reading the original versions of literary texts, people often gain information from elsewhere, i.e. by watching film adaptations, scrolling through memes, playing video games, or reading comments on Youtube. In contrast to printed books that are mostly verbal, linear and created by a single author, digital texts are becoming increasingly multimodal, non-linear and collaborative. Apart from a qualitative and quantitative change in the nature of texts, digitalization entails a shift in social relations: producers and consumers merge into prosumers, while teachers turn into knowledge facilitators rather than all-knowing others. While the current situation can be certainly considered as a moment of explosion, this work mostly focuses on its opposite – the stage of gradual development.
The thesis explores the transformation of literary education from different angles. At first, it discusses the applicability of different forms of texts and practices to teaching literature, such as digital and film adaptations, games, and project development workshops. Secondly, it synthesizes the ideas of the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School and the multimodal approach, in order to analyze literary education in the context of cultural autocommunication as well as through the prism of social relations. Finally, it suggests pedagogical and technological solutions for bridging the gap between formal literary education and vernacular digital practices. The thesis aims to answer research questions by means of experimentation rather than by a theoretical argument: the findings are based on the empirical material gathered while working on the Education on Screen project.