Digitally exploring Tayo's world: Using hypertextual tools to teach Leslie Marmon Silko's “Ceremony”
Richard Ketchel Mott, The University of New Mexico, United States
The University of New Mexico . Awarded
This dissertation project, which includes an extensive, multimedia website entitled WebCeremony, pursues the application of digital technology to teach literature, or more specifically, Native American literature. Designed as an electronic companion for those reading Silko's novel Ceremony, the website takes advantage of digital educational tools to acquaint students with the unfamiliar geography, cosmology, spirituality, and cultural customs of the Laguna people.
In a search to reunite text and image, as well as integrate audio, video, and virtual reality applications into the study of literature, the purpose of this dissertation is twofold: (1) To create, organize, and post—and to continue to append, revise, and update into the foreseeable future—a wide range of contextual materials about Leslie Silko's 1977 novel, Ceremony. Presented in a number of different media formats, these digital tools are available to students and scholars on WebCeremony . (2) To articulate in this document the critical and pedagogical theories underlying such an educational website. Ultimately, my aim in this dissertation is to demonstrate the effectiveness of using networked (e.g. the internet), digital media—as opposed to more traditional, primarily paper-based educational materials—to supplement the teaching of Native American literature.
Hypertext and other multi-perceptual digital tools should be incorporated into the literature classroom because they can effectively recreate and represent the background and contextual information vital to understanding a story. Further, because digital literary tools help users uncover larger patterns of symbols, sounds, text, interpretation, and theory, students and scholars can construct more sophisticated meta-discourses of creative works. And finally, because a hypertext environment contextualizes visitors in a manner fundamentally different than the way paper-based media contextualizes the traditional reader, the internet offers the ideal setting for a companion to Ceremony : the non-linear, spiderweb-like environment of WebCeremony mirrors the structure of the novel, allowing website visitors the same agency of narrative construction that Silko grants her “listener-reader.”
While critical hypertexts effectively supplement literature in general, digital tools seem particularly well-suited for helping to teach Native American literature. Because digital literary tools will continue to play an increasingly important role in education, teachers must learn how to incorporate them into the classroom.
Mott, R.K. Digitally exploring Tayo's world: Using hypertextual tools to teach Leslie Marmon Silko's “Ceremony”. Ph.D. thesis, The University of New Mexico.
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