Reading Poetry in Information Age

Reading Poetry in Information Age: Wordsworth’'s Poetics and Hypertext

Literary studies are believed to face an unprecedented challenge in information Age. The digital culture of information technology, the new paradigm of the globalized internet world, does no longer allow the literature of print based culture the prestigious place of the storage of human value. This paper aims at clarifying the significance of hypertext in the changing climate of literary studies in information society by doing two things. One is to examine the logic of hypertext in the context of literary theory and practice and its impact on the landscape of traditional literary studies. The way the literary scholars and theorists react to the new literary discipline of digital culture will be critically reviewed along with a typically discouraging case of hypertextual experiment in a university literature class. The other is to explore the possibility of compromise between the two radically different sets of literary practices, Wordsworth’s poetry and poetics and Hypertext theory, as a preparatory attempt to promote a literary theory which would accommodate the traditional literary activities working within a new cultural paradigm of Information Age. A fresh look at the familiar Wordsworth’s poems such as "The Ruined Cottage" and "Simon Lee" makes it clear that the human value of literary writing and reading is not likely to be eliminated or replaced by the new “reader-oriented" literary practices of hypertext as is evidenced by the “built-in" hypertextual quality of those poems. The potential of hypertext as a new medium of literature is clearly there, but it is far from being a direct cause of sudden death of all those traditional literary practices.

Journal of the 19th century Literature in English 3(2000): 89-114


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