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  • Jakten på fortellinger. Barne- og ungdomslitteratur på tvers av medier ed. by Elise Seip Tønnessen
  • Ines Galling
    Translated by Nikola von Merveldt
Jakten på fortellinger. Barne- og ungdomslitteratur på tvers av medier (In the Pursuit of Narratives: Children’s and Youth Literature across Media). Ed. by Elise Seip Tønnessen. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2014. 300pages. ISBN 978-82-15-02384-7

Literary texts today are situated in a complex network of different forms of presentation and production—print editions, e-books, picture-book based apps, and film and game adaptations as well as genuinely digital literature which permanently evolves due to advice and comments from readers. The “new” forms of literature change the ways books are produced and [End Page 63] received; at the same time, they are a part and an expression of this change. “Text” is being redefined; processes of reading and receiving are transformed, along with the roles of the author, distributor, and reader. The transgression of previously fixed boundaries as well as the dissolution and hybridization of traditionally clear-cut categories are hallmarks of the digital age.

The essay collection takes a closer look at the combination of traditional and new forms, at the resulting potential and challenges. The first of four sections, “Bakgrunn og teorie” (Background and theory), sketches the state of affairs, beginning with the status of the book, reading, and media consumption and followed by theoretical foundations and terminology. Drawing on research in picture books, semiotics, reader-response-theory, and scholarship in theatre studies, concepts such as interactivity, performativity, and aesthetic experience are explained: A text is no longer considered to be a fixed entity but rather an open-ended semiotic system, updated through the interaction with the recipient. In “traditional” print as well as in digital formats, individual participation and dynamic interaction between text and reader are based on the possibilities of the “social” web 2.0 and reflect them. Reading is thus reconceptualized as “active action” and “event.”

The second chapter, “Litteratur på nye plattformer” (Literature on new platforms) focuses on the transformation of traditional to new media. Contributors analyze film adaptations of picture books, the reception of books and apps, or the narrative structure of picture book apps. They show how gaming elements are integrated into literary narratives, thereby transforming traditional storylines: the constraints of spatial and temporal causality can be thrown overboard, and an “imperative narrative” can incite readers to participate.

On the one hand, the third chapter “Medieerfaringer i barne- og ungdomslitteraturen” (Media experiences in literature for children and young adults) asks what literary possibilities the “new” media have to offer; on the other, it debates how literature can reflect the processes of new media experiences on a formal and thematic level. While the response to the assassinations of Utøya on July 22, 2011 demonstrates how the different platforms like internet, magazines, newspaper, and books collaborate in the collective processing of trauma, it also reveals that print and literature have the capacity to open up spaces for reflections that extend beyond the ephemeral cyberspace.

The fourth and last part, “Estetiske praksiser” (Aesthetic practices), explores aesthetic procedures. For example, how can the picture book with its polysemiotic pictorial and verbal text develop the “character of a performative event” in different reading situations for the adult reader and for the child viewer or co-reader?

The individual contributions do not always align with the section’s topic, but they all share a broad concept of text and literature. They define the text as multi-modal—meaning they understand texts as complex sign systems, which in turn are composed of several complementary sign systems that can be updated and combined by the reader. This approach levels the difference between highbrow and lowbrow literature, valuing the “experience” higher than the cognitive gain. The reader takes center stage: The recipient is no longer a passive consumer but an active co-creator who graduates to “co-author” by commenting and exercising agency. How readers take on that role is shown by empirical studies, on which many of the contributions are based. Even if these are not new methods for text analysis, they prove remarkably productive for research into literature and media...


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pp. 63-65
Launched on MUSE
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