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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32732

Title: Digital Short Fiction and its Social Networks
Authors: Hesemeier, Susan
Advisor: Lancashire, Ian
Department: English
Keywords: digital literature
short story
electronic literature
born-digital fiction
short fiction
writing communities
Issue Date: 21-Aug-2012
Abstract: This thesis considers how the digital medium and social networks affect the short story. I argue that digital short fiction has shown changes, such as signs of becoming more modular or briefer than its print counterparts, and that it has also reflected a shift to the personal or semi-autobiographical story. Digital short fiction has also been used increasingly to market a publisher’s or author’s name or non-digital works. I begin contextualizing this shift in Chapter 1 by analyzing different approaches to the study of the short story, including an overview of generic and historical scholarship, and I conclude with a working definition of the short story. In Chapter 2, I analyze early digital short fiction along with the themes of contemporary fiction in general that have been affected by digital media, social networks, and other changes. I also consider digital short fiction in the context of its publication media, postmodernism, and changes in communication in general. In Chapter 3, I verify these considerations with responses to questionnaires sent to writers of short fiction both on the Web and off. By studying these writers’ conceptions of the short story, preferred publication media, and writing habits, I build on the working definitions of the short story from Chapters 1 and 2. In Chapter 4, I consider the effects on the short story and conclude that we can update print-based conceptions of the short story to include born-digital short fiction and accommodate the contemporary shift in general to modularity, open source, social networks, and the focus on the self. Rather than establishing a concrete definition of what short fiction is at this time, I conclude that a better approach is to replace pre-defined categories with an acknowledgement that the short story is perhaps shifting closer to pre-print storytelling roots, although within the confines of current limitations such as copyright and the attention span of contemporary readers. Although we cannot fully quantify these changes at this time, I argue that they impact the short story and require scholars to consider its paratexts and publication media differently than in pre-Web years.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32732
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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