The legacy of the writer's notebook on the web

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Simotas, Spyridon, French - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Blatt, Ari, French, University of Virginia
Levine, Alison, French, University of Virginia
Tsien, Jennifer, French, University of Virginia
Booth, Alison, French, University of Virginia
Abstract: l'héritage du cahier de l'écrivain sur le web_ examines a strand of digital literature that emerged online amid a general climate of reluctance, suspicion, and uncertainty about the rise of the web. Decried as antithetical to the book, the web was an easy target to blame for a declining market saturated by an increasing number of prize-oriented novels with every _rentrée littéraire_. It is within this context that François Bon, Philippe De Jonckheere, and Éric Chevillard, each entrenched in the tradition of _Belles Lettres,_ claimed the electronic turf as a new territory for the creation and dissemination of their work. Neither finished nor polished, these writers’ blogs and websites provide access to their works-in-progress. In my analysis, I argue that they revisit and bring up to date the idea of the notebook in the form of a new poetics that I call Borrowed from genetic criticism, the term _brouillon,_ as I apply it to digital media, does not refer to a set of preparatory documents studied in contrast with a published novel, but rather to an imbroglio of texts, photos, code, and recordings. In light of this new poetics, I theorize the notion of _brouillon,_ and I demonstrate, in three chapters, how it applies to each writer. We see _brouillon_ at work in François Bon's _Tierslivre_, strewn with his cross-disciplinary and transmedia experiments. We follow Philippe De Jonckheere’s _Désordre_ to show how he playfully highlights the Oulipian qualities of the web. And we read Eric Chevillard’s journal _L’Autofictif_ with particular attention to the ways in which he positions himself against _“le bon vieux roman.”_ Ultimately, through my examination of these born-digital _brouillons,_ I suggest that writing against the novel as a genre, like these three writers do, shifts our focus to their notebooks, which demand new ways of engagement and reading in the 21st century. With my thesis, I propose their inclusion within the study of contemporary French literature as a timely intervention into the way that digital technologies alter the very fabric of the letter.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
French Contemporary Literature Born Digital Materials Digital Humanities Audiovisual Media
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