Marina Warner

Literature and the Web: The Potential of Digital Soundscapes

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Keywords: spoken word, online archive, women & poetry, www.

In the present climate of discouragement that threatens all of us who hold the Humanities dear, one of the worst threats, or so it seems, has been the dumbing down consequent on digital media and the rise of hate speech on digital platforms. Yet in spite of the instinctive recoil and bristling horror some feel for social media as currently used, it is possible to consider and reframe the question of reading on the web. In this article, I ask: can the Internet’s reach and capaciousness help build “a country of wordsµ where the humanities can flourish? And, at a time of high tension in the world, flourish beyond the borders of nation and language and economic interests? How does the www work as a vehicle for literature? How are women writers, especially poets (Caroline Bergvall, Warsan Shire), using their voices to take up occupation of this global communications system and explore experiences both personal and more widely political?

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