How to Read in an Information Age?
Towards an Integrative Model of Close and Hyperreading
Contemporary technological developments have drastically increased the amount of texts available through different media, leading to new reading habits. A shift has occurred from close reading, sustained and focused attention to the text, to hyperreading, non-linear, computer-assisted modes of reading such as skimming and scanning. Consequently, some fear, young people are losing the ability to concentrate. Meanwhile, print literacy skills obtained in school do not converge with digital reading tasks performed outside the classroom for leisure. The shift to online reading, therefore, entails a challenge for literature education. How to guide students in these new reading habits?
My research is aimed at developing an integrative or ‘adaptive’ model that bridges the gap between print and digital literacies by integrating close and hyperreading, and proposing ways of reading that oscillate between these two strategies. Today’s multiform textual abundance demands an active attitude, asking readers to switch between sources; it involves a high degree of creativity in combining different modes of reading and determining when to choose what mode. Starting from an interdisciplinary theoretical framework of literary studies, cognitive studies of attention, and creativity research, I draw on experimental, multimodal literature to create a training environment for such an integrative literacy. Such texts solicit new modes of reading as they mimic our multimodal engagement with information in contemporary media spaces; yet they do so within the confines of a single work that offers a controlled and controllable environment. They form an ideal, unexplored site for developing a synergetic approach to print and digital literacies.