Ceci n’est pas une prospectus.

I prefer not to think linearly; I like my thoughts to have free reign when approaching an essay so as to not get lost in the formality of the whole thing. Therefore, my prospectus is more like my brainstorming processes up to this point.

I will use Byatt’s novel to address question 3, my own hybrid version of questions 1 and 2 (because 1 + 2 = 3. I can do math.).  While Byatt’s novel effectively illustrates the abilities of traditional reading practices of academia to find information, it seems to be on the cusp of necessitating newer forms of research.  To the modern day reader, much of the work being done in the novel can seem redundant or an ineffective use of time given the tools and technologies we have available to us today.  Historical practices are used in this novel but on the grander scale, they seem to be inefficient.  I will use Manguel, the IOT podcast on the syllabus, and Ramsay to discuss the forms of reading in the novel and posit suggestions for how using newer technologies will enhance research capabilities on the larger scale of scholarship.



– Reading practices in the novel are like ours/in the tradition of literary research up until present day

– Independent, quiet, personal readings lead to personal interpretations backed up with textual evidence

– Participating in larger scale academia

– Use examples from Manguel and IOT podcast

– Emphasis on background information as central/significant to textual meaning

– Illustrates problematic nature of background information

– How previous knowledge colours our readings of texts à influence of background   information

– What to do with new information being discovered?

– What do we find in texts – what we are looking for or what’s there?

– Barthes’ death of the author theory –> started becoming prominent around the time the novel was written à significance?


– Time period in which it was written (1991) parallels shift towards more technological world; reading practices in the novel seem to be needed something more, practices of the time needed something more as well

– Traditional forms used, nothing is digital (with exception of Cropper’s presentation) à could benefit from digitization

– Leg work done faster = more time for interpretation and synthesizing information instead of searching for it

– Able to find clues in texts faster to be able to interpret them

– Easier catalogues to navigate

– Create own catalogues over course of study

– Able to protect academic information/discoveries if digital

– Less chance of other scholars stealing information or sources

– Someone still has to input all the info but only has to be done once; greater access to greater number of people

-not new ideas, using the same methods through mediation of machines à Ramsay

– Ability to search terms and find textual patterns faster

– Maud and Roland do this, could be done more efficiently and quickly


Works Cited:

Adams, Ann Marie. “Dead Authors, Born Readers, and Defunct Critics: Investigating Ambiguous Critical Identities in A. S. Byatt’s ‘Possession’”. The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. 36.1 (Spring 2003): 107-124. Online. 18 March 2013.

– Used to discuss different kinds of reading practices seen in the novel in relation to those outline by IOT podcast and Manguel


Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author”. Modern Literary Theory. 4th Ed. Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. p. 185-189. Print.

– Used to discuss efficacy of historical reading practices within context of the novel’s emphasis on authorial presence in the text

– how authorial presence can be seen through algorithmic examinations of textual patterns


Hennelly Jr., Mark M. “Repeating Patterns” and Textual Pleasures: Reading (In) A. S. Byatt’s “Possession: A Romance”. Contemporary Literature. 44.3 (Autumn 2003): 442-471. Online. 18 March 2013.

 – Used for discussion on patterns observed in novel and to what extent those patterns could be seen in algorithmic criticism


In Our Time Archive: Culture. “IOTC: Reading”. BBC Radio 4, 2000. Podcast.

– Primary Source


Manguel, Alberto. “The Silent Readers”. A History of Reading. Toronto: Alfred A.

Knopf Canada, 1996. p. 41-53. Print.

– Primary Source

Ramsay, Stephen. Reading Machines: Towards an Algorithmic Criticism. Chicago:

University of Illinois, 2011. Print.

– Primary Source

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One Response to Ceci n’est pas une prospectus.

  1. ullyot says:

    How would the novel be different if a digital surrogate of (say) Ash and Lamotte’s letters solved the problem that people want to protect and hide primary sources like letters and diaries?

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