On “Tailspin”, and what is next….

As many of you know, I have been away at the Digital Media & Learning Conference held at the University of California-Irvine.  It was a wonderful week filled with inspiration and learning, and I return home with renewed passion for the work we are exploring together, and new energy regarding what is possible (as co-learners in this class together).

Thank you to Andaiye for setting the tone for our “close reading” presentations of e-lit texts.  Her choice to explore Christine Wilks’ Tailspin was a good one, leading us right away to apprehend the kind of literary nuance afforded in digital storytelling environment.  ‘Tailspin’ is elegantly written and constructed, with themes, imagery, and a symbolic language that complements the multimodal navigation required to discover the story.  Unknown-1 The story is about a WW2 vet named George – a man whose hearing impairment is a constant source of tension between him and his family, and in particular, his daughter Karen.  One of the first things we do notice about ‘Tailspin’ is the power of sound. From a constant heartbeat and an eerie, repeated, tinny melody, the story opens with someone humming and the sound of utensils scraping across plates. The reader is bombarded with footsteps, birdsong, muffled shouts, the silly banter of children, and the sounds of video games. The effect is a constant din, perhaps mirroring the tinnitus that George suffers from.  The pull of the story lies in a subtle but ever evolving sense of trauma rooted in George’s buried past.  The coil of the inner ear (cochlea) foreshadows the spinning swirls that readers must click on to navigate through the story. These spinning icons also echo the tailspin of the plane crash George witnessed during the war and the sense that things are “spinning out of control” in the family’s interactions with each other.  In this story, generations fail to connect, silence does not ensure peace, and trauma is the legacy that cannot be seen but is heard.  Andaiye had us think about each phase/layer of this story, and pointed to the way in which the multi modal use of sound, image and text (and links) all worked in concert to produce a coherent yet complex narrative.

For next class we will be exploring High Muck A Muck.  Hailey will be directing our “walkthrough” with her presentation on this new e-lit text from the ELC Vol. 3.  

Please be sure to blog a reflection regarding this text before class on Tuesday, and use the our class hashtag (#elitclass) to tweet your early thoughts.   After Hailey’s presentation in part one of class, we will start to think further about making e-lit in the second half of class.

See you soon! Dr. Zamora