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University of Windsor

Digital literature a focus of award-winning English grad

As an English major, Hollie Adams always held sacred the value of being able to read from an actual book, so she’s able to see the irony inherent in the fact that a primary focus of her studies now is on how digital communications technology is transforming literature.~

“It’s funny because I’ve been kind of hesitant about things like Kindles and Facebook and Twitter,” said the recent master’s graduate. “I’m not anti-technology but I was just kind of reluctant to embrace those things. Five years ago I didn’t know what a text message was and now it’s a primary form of communication.”

Adams graduated from UWindsor in June and soon learned she was the recipient of a three-year Canada Graduate Scholarship grant worth $105,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. She’s now pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Calgary. Besides her dissertation on digital literature, she’s working on a novel which will “ravenously consume a variety of forms inherent in web-based composition in an attempt to capture the experience of living and reading in the digital world.”

“It’s very hard to write a contemporary novel with acknowledging the influence of technology,” said Adams, a Windsor native who graduated from Holy Names High School. “I’m very interested in how things have changed so rapidly in terms of technology and the internet, but I’m more interested in how print has responded to what’s happened in the digital realm.”

Referring to novels by Matt Beaumont and David Llewellyn, both written exclusively as e-mail correspondence between characters, Adams said writers now think in more visual terms about how their work appears in print and readers respond differently as a result. She said her own creative work will expand upon the literary technique of e-mail correspondence to include elements such as Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as material from blogs.

Adams wrote a short novella for her master’s thesis and studied under English associate professor Nicole Markotic, who said her former student exemplifies the promise of her department in that she’s able to seamlessly blend her critical and scholarly work with her own creative output.

“She’s just a fabulous student,” said Dr. Markotic, who is encouraging Adams to try to get her novella published. “She picks up things faster than anyone should be able to.”

Adams described her time at UWindsor as “wonderful” and said it prepared her well for her PhD work.

“I felt very fortunate to be in one of the best undergraduate creative writing programs in the country,” she said.

— Stephen Fields

View a complete list of UWindsor SSHRC winners here.

Hollie Adams sends a text message prior to heading off to Calgary, where she is pursuing her PhD.