Paper Abstracts

Dr. Panos Arvanitis & Dr. Despoina Kaklamanidou
Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece

A Database of Filmed Novels: Methodology & Didactic Use
The close relationship between film and literature can be easily identified through the great number of films based on literary sources, the great box-office success filmic adaptations encounter, and the artistic recognition via numerous awards. Let it be noted that from 1927 to 1995, the 42 of the 68 films that won the Oscar for Best Picture (a percentage of 61,7%) are based on novels, proving the indisputable relationship between literary production and movie industry.
In the context of exploring this relationship, an extended corpus composed of 2,800 filmic adaptations was produced, which covers the years 1914-1996. Next, a database was set up, aiming at filing, processing, analysis and presentation of the information that refer to the films and the novels in question. Furthermore, a working website was composed in order to offer access to interested parties to the Database content and facilitate information exchange.
The present paper will present the methodology of construction of the above-mentioned database, the potential and the possibilities of evolution and didactic exploitation of its content in distance-learning environments, which include film students as well as anyone interested in filmic and literary issues.

Professor Laura Borràs Castanyer & Professor Joan Elies Adell
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya / Hermeneia Research Group, Spain

The UOC Experience of Teaching Literature in a Virtual Campus: 1998-2005
To think about the way in which we transmit information for educational purposes is never a neutral action. The new digital paradigm invites us to reflect on the tactical decisions that we must adopt and, of course, on the way we transmit or allow the generation of knowledge in the era of media literacy. That’s why when we started teaching in a completely virtual university as UOC it was necessary to reformulate and reorganize in a new way the relationship between sources, information or knowledge and the modalities of its transmission. Since then we have developed a degree in Catalan Philology with a large number of subjects on literature that were designed specifically depending on the didactical target that we wanted for each of them. Nowadays, our gamble in the day by day work as virtual lecturers combines electronic didactic materials, on line resources, digital libraries, web-sites of reference, virtual exhibitions, etc. and a virtual workshop that is very well valued by the students because it allows them to compare their exercises with those of their colleagues and to benefit from their corrections too.
It is necessary to seriously consider that the act of online teaching using these digital resources means being detached from acquired habits and transform the discourse communicative techniques. The ways of testing “validity” in a literary analysis have been deeply modified since we can develop our speech according to a logic that is not any longer linear and deductive, but open and relational. We must react to the transfer of knowledge by accompanying students in their process of intellectual maturation, taking part in the virtual blackboard or inciting the debate in the virtual forum, correcting exercises in a very personalized way, answering doubts, considering new questions... After all, it is a holistic and beneficial task for the students, since it obliges them to read, to compare, to listen to their colleagues, as well as to the lecturer, to participate, to organize their ideas in a logical form and to present them coherently. In other words: to organize and build their learning process in a radically subjective way, using their own initiative and capacities. This use of philology has been defined as much more attentive to the subject it has to interpret than to the text that has to be interpreted and to its objective historical reality. It is more focused on the person that is learning than on the lecturer, which is completely different in a traditional university model.

Professor Laura Borràs Castanyer
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya / Hermeneia Research Project, Spain

To Teach Literature in a Virtual University: A Way to Enhance Imagination!
The introduction of digital technologies in the learning processes has meant the creation of new educational spaces known as VLE (Virtual Learning Environments). This pedagogic reality should answer to the users’ needs, their educational purposes, the curricula with which they work and, specifically, the formative needs for the people that integrate them. Technologies are tools capable of building a learning frame, although it is necessary to endow them with contents and humanity. Different voices have warned of the sterility of a technological environment that does not have any pedagogic or didactic specificity (different from the traditional models). After all, learning is learning whether it has an extra 'e' or not and so VLE are only as good or as bad as the ways they are used. Thus, the revolutionary point of its use would not be the technological aspect, but whether they really offer new ways of teaching. In this sense, we will show the example of a completely virtual university, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), where the learning process takes place in a virtual campus, focusing on two specific subjects: “Medieval Romance literature” and “Literary Studies and Digital Technologies”.
For the first one we have developed a medieval itinerary in a metaphor of the medieval pilgrimage way where the students have to “travel” through the different medieval genres (epic, lyric -the troubadours-, and the roman) and their theories and studies; for the second we have finally created a piece of Digital Literature in Catalan (the Diary of an Absence), to show our students what a piece of digital narrative could be and to provide them the real and complex experience to “read” the new literature in its own medium and with its own rules. Since we wanted the students to act as literary critics of works of digital literature but the existing works worldwide would have been a challenge to the linguistic competence of most of the students, we have designed a work of digital literature with different surfing possibilities so that students can undertake an authentic and complete exercise of literary criticism.
Arranged in the form of a diary, this narrative follows the paths of absence by delving into the pain that is caused by desire, a desire that is reflected in this particular box of raptures in the face of a separation from the loved one. To the idea of introspection arising from the exercise of spiritual reflection and the flood of torn feelings that this brings, there appears the idea of the house as a cloister, which is the scenario in which the tale in our hypertext exercise has been set. The apparently illogical ups and downs of the narrator’s thoughts are metaphorically translated into the maze where the reader gets lost, this reader who has come in search of words that will lead towards the interior that tells a story of love, of the loss of love, of passion and of impossibility. The Diary is an eminently textual product, situated in a determinate visual and musical dimension, which also offers the reader a pilgrimage, a journey to be undertaken.

Professor Alessandra Briganti
Universita Telematica Guglielmo Marconi

Advanced Technologies: Towards a Future Paradigm of Thinking and Representing Reality in ODL Literature Studies
Over the last few decades, digital revolution has penetrated every aspect of daily life pervasively, overcoming scientific knowledge barriers, which appeared insurmountable, deeply modifying profoundly rooted cognitive paradigms.
But, with respect to a revolution that emphasizes technological values, digital beings, in the entirety of progressive changes, paradoxically, we rediscover the knowledge and actual neo-humanism centrality, since the most radical reconfiguration concerns its forma mentis.
Just like every scientific revolution, which is moved by inventions and discoveries, it has conducted to the adoption of a new paradigm, the revolution of invisible connectivity (Barman,) it has moved a cognitive paradigm, from a consolidated linear acquisition of knowledge to a circular acquisition of knowledge that takes shape in a constant mobile discontinuity.
The new paradigm regards e-learning as a diffusion force of a new culture and it finds within literature and arts, potential representative modalities, almost metaphors, that make sense through discontinuous and circular unions.

Professor Ellie Chambers
The Open University, UK

Literature Pedagogy for Distance Education: A Socio-Cultural Approach
The paper addresses the early stages of an undergraduate education in Literature and, in particular, the challenge of engaging and successfully teaching adult students and those from non-traditional educational backgrounds at-a-distance. Taking as an example the UKOU’s course Living Arts, it promotes a ‘discourse model’ of teaching and studying Literature; it discusses the practical consequences for course teams of applying a theoretical framework in which learning is conceived as a socio-cultural process of meaning making. Here the emphasis is on the analytical, interpretative and evaluative processes that are central to the discipline, and on certain related pedagogic principles: of engagement, intelligibility, and participation. This approach is contrasted with the ‘outcomes model’ of higher education which currently prevails in the UK, and with a related benchmarking exercise designed to regulate teachers’ objectives/the learning outcomes, curriculum and course design, and student assessment. By contrast, it is argued that an outcomes approach is reductive and distorting of a (discursive, hermeneutic, participatory, value laden, context dependant, relatively indeterminate) discipline such as Literature.

Theodoros Chiotis
University of Oxford, UK

The Art of the Elegantly Folded Text: Hypertext, Literary Theory and ODL Practices
My paper seeks to test a two-fold hypothesis; first, the manner in which literary theory is used and presented in a hypertextual environment and second, the manner in which the conceptual framework of literary theory can be used and applied in the construction of hypertexts effective and appropriate for an ODL situation. The conceptual framework of critical theory makes particular demands on the effective construction, presentation and reception of a critical hypertext. Anyone who has used/read a hypertext knows that protocols of reading traditionally taught at school lose their degree of effectiveness in a hypertextual environment and by extension in an ODL situation. This happens because in hypertexts we find that layers of wildly different and often opposing reading/writing protocols interpenetrate and combine. I will illustrate my paper with a number of examples and argue that critical hypertexts have to be thought of more as origami-like texts rather than as jigsaw puzzles to be assembled. Much like the “folder” in origami folding brings out the shape of paper which was not evident before folding, the reader of a hypertext brings out in the hypertext a shape of meaning which was not evident before he or she began. Critical hypertexts with their multiple layers and codes abandon the long-held Cartesian conception of textual space (static and prescriptive) in favour of a hypertextual space which is dynamic and performative. In this manner critical hypertexts perform a complex self-reflexive process: in critical hypertexts, knowledge and meaning as well as the processes engendering them are consistently questioned, subverted and affirmed. I will argue that critical hypertexts provide us with brand new ways of reading and teaching literary theory.

Dr. Sara Hauptman
Achva College of Education, Israel

Freshmen Literature Students in a DEL Training Program for Developing Alternative Ways of Teaching Literature in a Teachers’ College: A Better Connection Between Technological and Pedagogical Issues Is Needed
Our research focused on the evaluation of a model for freshmen Literature students, University graduates, participating in a DEL training program for developing and improving their Literature instruction proficiency. In this DEL program our students had to choose a poem or a story they intended to teach at school and create two different/alternative lessons’ plans following three E-instructions: (a) to use a different Literary Critical Theory for each lesson while relying on electronic background information for creating two different interpretations; (b) to use different teaching strategies for following each interpretation and (c) to use available media implications for each lesson plan. Students were required to add an electronic reflection following their process and describing their (two) products. Following E-mail correction notes, the students corrected their works. The finial drafts of the lessons’ plans were available for all students as an “E- teaching guide”. This DEL training was performed at the end of each semester as the practical training part of a face-to-face course: “Literary Critical Theories and Teaching Methods”.
The data collected from students’ products and reflections pointed at a highly significant improvement of students’ products followed by deeper reflections - at the end of the second semester. One the other hand, interviews and written reports in both semesters indicated that our goals, for better confidence in E- usage and less conceptual conflicts about using technology in literature lessons at school, were not entirely met. Our conclusion is, that better connections between technological and pedagogical issues need to be practiced in Teaching Literature courses.

Professor Ayesha Heble
Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

Walk TALL! (Technology Assisted Language/literature Learning): Teaching English Literature online
This paper is based on a comparative study between two sections of an “Introduction to Drama” course for 2nd year Arts students at Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman. One of these was taught in a traditional face-to-face manner, while the other was taught using an online programme, WebCT, to supplement classroom teaching. The contents of the two sections were almost identical, as was the composition of the students. I was interested in studying the impact of online teaching on literary education, and whether it would make any difference to the students’ reading and critical skills, their motivation, and their literary skills. Would it really achieve the claims of “learning without limits”, as the makers of WebCT would like to suggest?
The paper describes the actual course as designed, and then focuses on the response of the students, their feedback, and their achievements vis-à-vis the face-to-face section. Although this may not be completely within the definition of Open and Distance Learning, I hope that my experiences might be useful in the area of using electronic and other digital tools for literary studies.

Professor Martin Huber
FernUniversität / University of Hagen, Germany

Literary Theory in Distance Learning
What is “Interpretation”, what is an argument in literary studies, why do we need literary theory at all, how to deal with theoretical controversies? Unlike Literary history, general information about writers, periods and genres, topics in literary theory seem to be a field of study, which should better be presented and exercised in face-to-face communication. This paper discusses a set of approaches with different media and practices in distance learning to gather competence in general theoretical and methodological problems. Shortly: the paper focuses on one single question. How to teach literary theory and methodological base knowledge in distance learning universities most effectively?

Dr. Alexandra Ioannidou
University of Macedonia, Greece

Teaching Russian Literature: Uses of the Internet
During the last decades the reception of Russian literature has undergone immense changes worldwide: Due to the decline of Slavic studies, due to the drift from state-controlled into private publishing and the new freedom of literary expression in Russia, combined with the existence of an immense reading public, especially enthusiastic about belles letters which lead to the production of thousands of books annually, it becomes more and more difficult to follow the development of Russian literature from abroad. The immense quantity of books from Russia would be a problem to any philologist interested in contemporary and older Russian literature, were there not the very well constructed and presented websites, designed mostly in Russia (but also in the United States and other countries). In Russia exists, most probably because of its long tradition in computer science, a very wide selection of highly professionally designed sites with literary texts, discussion round-tables, bibliographies etc. whereas only during the last few months copyright is being gradually introduced. The proposed paper, after a short presentation of the situation, examines the possibilities such websites on Russian literature could offer to a Russian literature class. The main goal of the paper will be to collect, sort into different categories, present and evaluate the best websites about Russian literature and to show possibilities of using these websites as teaching tools in the environment of a university distant-learning platform. (The examples will be shown on the basis of the distant-learning platform of the University of Macedonia, which could be seen as a more or less typical platform for that purpose).

Professor Dimitrios Kargiotis
Université Marc Bloch (Strasbourg II), France

The Distance of Literature and the Space of the Aesthetic: Literary Theory in the Open
Much of secondary literature on theoretical aspects of ODL literary studies has focused either on the tools or material that the new educational organization requires or on the methods or practices that this specific educational context demands. To put the educational process at the center of attention has meant that a certain view of the object of study itself has been largely presupposed. In view of modern epistemological interventions on the constitution of the disciplinary object, in both senses of the term, the hitherto unquestioned essentialism of an object of study is now considered to be to an extent due to a certain relativism of the processes that create it: its framing within an institution (the university); the laws that govern that institution (organization); the processes presupposed (weekly, in general, repetition; examination practices that control and sanction the body of knowledge produced; etc.); in short, the creation of a space in which the object of knowledge and its actors are inscribed.
In what ways is this space different in ODL studies, and how even more so in ODL studies of literature? How are the traditional categories of author, work, reader, context transformed in an ODL framework? What are presuppositions that govern ODL studies’ concept of the canon, literary history and the function of literature? Can the production and consumption of knowledge in an ODL setting escape a historicist consideration of the aesthetic object?

Professor Takis Kayalis
The Hellenic Open University, Greece

“World literature” and the isolation of ODL literary studies
Literary studies programmes at Open Universities across Europe tend to approximate the ways in which literature is organised as an academic subject in the context of their respective national traditions (i.e. at conventional Universities). This leads to a widespread incompatibility among ODL literature programmes, which is evident in the different canonical concepts shaping their courses and modules, in the variety of educational goals and pedagogical procedures, as well as in the diversity of principles which guide the writing of educational material. Apart from blurring the cultural circumstances and educational needs pertaining specifically to ODL students, an excessive loyalty to established national frameworks of literary instruction restrains transnational academic dialogue, cooperation and collective experimentation among scholars in ODL literature programmes, thus effecting an anachronistic state of institutional isolation and also an impoverishment of creative resourcefulness. Recent theoretical conceptualizations of “world literature”, offering new perspectives on the content, aims and organisational procedures of literary education, may provide useful insights for the development of more independent, collaborative and effective methods and practices in ODL literary studies.

Dr. Barbara Kolan
Bar Ilan University, Israel
Achva College of Education, Israel

The Windmills of Your Mind: Teaching Literature Imaginatively with Technology
This presentation investigates distance academic courses in literature designed for English Foreign Language (EFL) teacher trainees. It examines particular elements and activities as exemplary models of how we can design distance courses that enhance the study of literature.
First, distance learning can utilize ICT to encourage student reflection on the amazing effects of words – mere black marks on paper! – on the human imagination. We will examine a plethora of simple digital tools which highlight the visual representation of ideas and the imaginative aspect of literature. The presentation will focus on concrete examples of ICT activities which help students develop greater sensitivity to figurative language and to the embedded metaphors of language.
In addition, we will examine ICT activities which promote literary skills that foster independent literary analysis. These skills are helpful to teacher trainees when preparing their own literature lessons and for developing a higher critical understanding.
Furthermore, distance learning courses can utilize easily accessible ICT tools to address the complexity of literary texts and the diversity of readers. A heightened awareness of multiplicity and difference encourages students to value diversity (Kramsch 1993, 1998) and creates greater sensitivity to layers of meaning in language (Spacks 1994, Nussbaum 1990, Game 1995, Phelan 1996). The presentation will give examples of how ICT is excellently suited as a medium that makes readers more open to contradiction, complexity and pluralism (Jonassen 1991, 1994).

Professor Raine Koskimaa
University of Jyvaskyla, Finland

Teaching Digital Literature: Code and Culture
This paper discusses the issues related to teaching digital literature. Special emphasis is paid on locating both digital literature in general, and specific individual works, in larger contexts. These include the literary tradition, digitalization of culture, and technologies used in digital literature. This kind of contextualization gives much needed breadth and depth for subsequent analyses and interpretations of individual works, based on careful close reading of the works, with attention paid to all levels of digital literature. The paper will include illustrative examples from specific works (eg. These Waves of Girls by Caitlin Fisher, Victory Garden by Stuart Moulthrop, Afternoon by Michael Joyce), showing how the various levels in each piece interact to produce the work as an aesthetic whole. Finally, the question of interpreting digital literature is addressed.

Professor Asunción López-Varela Azcárate
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

Hypertextual Spaces of Representation: Learning and Thinking Differently
The work of our research group L.E.E.T.H.Y has focused on the European Convergence didactic patterns and employed hypertextual models to create new didactic spaces which can generate novel learning processes. In the specific area of literary studies, these hypertextual spaces produce new ways of associative reading which lead to transversal and intercultural forms of learning and which we have termed “transliterary”.
Our web space, simply called L.E.E.T.H.Y, is a place to meet the group, its historiography and its didactic tools. We have selected a dynamic interface that brings forward the constructivism of our mental representations, whether ideological, conceptual or textual, and which invites to complex reflections on the relationship between the reading-writing process and the development of conceptual thought. Our hypertextual space emphasizes the dialogical processes involved in the creation of our mental and cultural models, so that literary and critical activities become imperative. Ours is not only a didactic approach but an epistemological inquiry into the relationship between the literary event, its spaces of representation and the changes that we are experiencing in our cultural models, product of changing cognitive activities, related to the shifting in the modes of textual support and production of information.
The following lines invite you to visit L.E.E.T.H.Y, present our didactic and cognitive model based on dialogic literary transactions, and attempt a preliminary inquiry into the nature of a possible paradigm shift, brought about by our changing spaces of representation and transmission of knowledge.

Michalis Lykoudis
University of Athens, Greece

Audiovisual Technology in ODL Literary Studies: Educational Video and DVD
The first part of the paper addresses the significance and general features of educational video and DVD: it describes their particular educational aims and discusses the importance of taking into consideration the differences between variable target groups, as the production of cognitive result is dependent upon the subjective cognitive constitution of Receptor-Spectator. As audiovisual discourse, educational video and DVD possess both narrative and representational qualities that have a privileged connection to the spectators’ everyday experience, thus offering a valuable lever of educational intervention.
On the other hand both means have specific limitations that necessarily restrict them to being supplementary to printed material. On this basis, the second part of the paper attempts to sketch some major considerations for the ideal planning of a video/ DVD of literary content for students of humanities, based on the study of existing material from ODL literature programs as well as recent work of the research team “openLit” on production of a sample DVD for the course “Modern Greek Literature (19th and 20th century)” offered in the program “Studies in Greek Civilization” at the Hellenic Open University.


Professor Colin Marlaire
National University in San Diego, California

The Evolution of Insight: Collaborative Reading in Distance Learning
In an article published in the October-December 2005 issue of the International Journal of Distance Education Technologies, Juha Puustjärvi and Päivi Pöyry assess the challenges faced by those currently participating in distance learning. “[T]hey have to build global learning infrastructures, course material has to be offered in digital form, course material has to be distributed via the Internet, and learners must have access to various virtual universities” (17). Instructors of literature face an additional challenge as the collaborative reading process, an important component of the educational experience where one learns to read and speak from several analytical stances, seems less applicable to an environment that from its very name implies distance. If, however, this challenge can be addressed, distance learning in English offers great promise as it can do more than merely replicate the collaborative educational experience of the traditional classroom. In moving the discussion beyond the limits of a class period, a distance learning course can exceed the bounds of the traditional class.

Dr. Anastasia Natsina
The Hellenic Open University, Greece

European ODL Literary Programs: A Comparative Survey of Curricula, Structure of Educational Material, and Educational Procedures
The paper presents some of the results brought forward by the research program undertaken by the research team “OpenLit”, operating under the auspices of the School of Humanities at the Hellenic Open University, during the last two years. One of the major aspects of the program has been a number of research visits to selected ODL Literature Departments, Programs, and Research Teams, in order to discuss ODL literary studies methodology and teaching material with colleagues and to consult printed, electronic and audiovisual material. The paper purports to register the tendencies in ODL literary education in terms of curriculum design, structure of educational material, and the educational procedures in nine European ODL literary programs or literary components of cultural studies programs, offered by the following institutions: Universite de Bourgogne-Dijon: Centre de Formation Ouverte et à Distance, (France), Universite de Toulouse-Le Mirail: Service d’Enseignement à Distance (France), The Open University (UK), Oscail-National Distance Education Centre (Ireland), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain), Universidad d’ Educacion a Distancia (Spain), Fernuniversitaet Hagen (Germany), Universita Telematica Guglielmo Marconi (Italy), The Hellenic Open University (Greece).

Professor Bob Owens
The Open University, UK

Masters-level Study in Literature at the Open University: Pedagogic Challenges and Solutions
This paper gives an account of the development of a taught Masters programme in Literature at the Open University. Now the largest MA programme in the UK, with about 500 students each year, it was launched in 1983 at a time when taught MAs were relatively rare in conventional universities, and when it was thought by many even in the Open University that it would be impossible to offer Masters-level study to part-time students using open and distance teaching methods.
The paper will outline some of the pedagogic challenges we faced, which included:

  • how to get students with widely varying experience of undergraduate study of literature up to a point where they could engage successfully with Masters-level study;

  • how to teach them about, and give them practice in using, a range of research methodologies and techniques;

  • how to deal with the problem that they would not have access to an Open University library, but would have to negotiate local library access for themselves;

  • how to develop skills and confidence in devising a suitable project and carrying out independent research towards a substantial dissertation (20,000 words) presented to scholarly standards.

It will examine some of the solutions we found to these challenges, with examples of the course materials, tuition, student support and assessment methods we devised, and how we responded to student and tutor feedback and course evaluation.
To conclude, the paper will consider some of the issues currently facing us as we seek to extend and develop the programme in a very different context, when there is fierce competition for the taught postgraduate market, and where new technologies offer vastly enriched study and research opportunities for MA students.

Professor Joseph Pivato
Athabasca University, Canada

Digital Rib: Changing Behaviour and Hypertext Literature
We will critically examine the changing behaviour over time (1998-2005) of both professor and students as they interact more and more with digital technology in the delivery of three literature courses at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada. I have been using online home pages for my literature courses since 1998 when I initiated hypertext research methods for a course on Shakespeare (English 324). For this paper I will focus on three particular courses, which, by their very nature, involve the use of other media besides print and the commercial textbook. The courses are: English 373: Film and Literature English 423: Contemporary Literary Theory and Criticism English 475: Literature and Hypertext We will consider the following:

  1. the theory behind the interaction with digital culture

  2. effects on the curriculum (and canons)

  3. the student response to new media

  4. speculation on Canadian Literature as a national literature Athabasca University has been a leader in open and distance education since 1975.

Dr. Theocharoula Niftanidou
University of Patras, Greece
Dr. Ourania Polycandrioti
National Hellenic Research Foundation, Greece

Teaching Modern Greek Literature in ODL: Literary Theory and the Example of the Autobiographical Writing

  1. The paper proposed is based on the belief that any introductory course on literature (and more specifically on modern Greek literature) should provide to the student a considerable amount of theoretical knowledge, which constitutes, as we believe, a necessary basis in the frame of literary courses in ODL.
    We will try to point out which basic notions of literary theory, as the definition of terms of reference (e.g. literature / philology), the determination of the main issues demanded by the discipline of literature, as well as a small introduction on theory of literature (referring to the presentation of the principal questions and tendencies of the theoretical thinking of the 20th century), could be introduced in an ODL literary course.
    The aim of this paper is to determine those special thematic units that could be integrated in the curricula on literature and to focus on a special issue, the genre of Autobiography, as an example of how the knowledge of theory could contribute to the analysis and interpretation of the literary texts.

  2. The literary genre of the Autobiography, in all its varieties (autobiographical novel, 1st person novel, interior monologue etc.) is a most appropriate example in order to clear up essential matters of literary theory and narratology, mainly because of its inherent narrative construction and its true or apparent dependence on reality.
    The functions and the textual veracity of the first person narration presuppose several narrative solutions related to the management of time and space, the narrative perspective and cognitive horizon of the 1st person narrator. Therefore, the main issue discussed would be the relation between literature and reality as well as the notion of literarity itself. The understanding of the basic notions of narratology and literary theory, through the study of the autobiographical writing, would serve to the students as a valuable key to the interpretation of literary texts, of all periods.
    Therefore, we propose to investigate how the main points of literary theory and narratology could be taught through an interactive ODL. We would like to propose study methods and interactive activities based on the comparative analysis of autobiographical texts (autobiography, 3rd person autobiography, interior monologue, 1st person novel) as well as on the students’ own writing exercises and attempts.


Professor Amelia Sanz
Universidad Comlutense de Madrid/ LEETHY Group, Spain

Specific Competences and Cognitive Procedures for Literary Studies in b-Learning
The Tuning Model for European Comparable degrees developed a generic program for identification of social needs, definition of academic and professional profiles at European level, and translation into desired learning outcomes. Nowadays we need a more precise and a more critical frame to focus European Literary Studies specificity, particularly in an Open Distance Education.
Transparency and coherence are required in any kind of learning design. Thus some key questions as to whom or who determines the object and the methodology employed, that is to say, knowledge and contents, socio-cultural competences and procedures, values and attitudes, need to be posed.
To do that, we must take into account the specific professional competences for new learners of literature and specific cognitive procedures that should be activated particularly by ODL systems to achieve these professional requirements. We would like to demonstrate and vindicate the complex cognitive and metacognitive capacities that used to remain passive in the printed paradigm and how they can now be particularly activated and worked in virtual environments within our contemporary digital paradigm.
In this communication, we propose, firstly, a critical review of materials and approaches, secondly an empirical research on market needs, and finally, a specific OpenLit model of complex cognitive resources. We will develop our subject in several points:

  • A critical revision of European Convergence documents regarding the definition of the learning subject as individual, subject and/or worker, and their ideological dimension.

  • A revision of available material regarding specific competences for new learners in the field of European Literatures, leading to a professional integration in the market place.

  • A field study of the needs detected by Spanish contractors regarding these matters, taken from interviews and surveys carried out with this end in mind.

  • A reasoned proposal of specific competences.

  • Cognitive and metacognitive complex resources specifically developed in ODL models for the proposed specific competences.

  • Proposal and working model for reading-writing learning process in a e-learning blended university as Complutense University.


Professor Didier Souiller
Université de Dijon, France

European literature and civilization in an ODL system : problems and method.
From a comparative point of view, the first problem is to deal with the complex connexion between European Civilization as a whole and actual definitions of single national cultures. One must forget the old habit of focussing only on one literature or one specific national history, to give the students the main outlines of a new approach toward European history, as well as main esthetical trends (themes, genres and periods) and shifts in the anthropological outlook. The second problem, in an ODL system, is to use the ODL media possibilities to deliver to particular students (all round the world) without necessarily access to University Libraries, lectures and references to books and study guides. Third and last (?) problem is to define proper means of examination according both to the breadth of the topic and the individual work of the student on such or such literatures, periods, and countries.

Dr. George Varsos
University of Athens, Greece

Distance Learning and Close Reading: The Specificity of Literature as an Object of ODL University Studies
This paper intends to discuss how changes in the function of teaching, that characterise ODL university studies, may affect the way literature works as an object of academic learning. The approach will be historical and theoretical, drawing both on relevant bibliography and on personal experience (namely, the experience of preparing educational material and of tutoring for the course on "History of European Literature" offered by the Greek Open University). I intend, more specifically, to discuss the following:

  1. The role of the university teacher within the wider setting of evolving conditions of literacy and book culture in Western modernity. The particularity, in this respect, of literary studies, due to the distinctness of literature as an object of learning. Present-day tensions over the institution of the university and over the idea of literature.
  2. Eventual connection of the above to the formation and development of specific theoretical modes of studying literature – such as exegetical commentary, philological critique and erudition, new critical techniques of close reading, more recent literary theory.
  3. Differences between conventional university teaching and ODL tutoring methods, as the latter connect to new conditions of studying, new forms of educational material and, more importantly, new modes of textuality and literacy.
  4. Eventual implications of ODL tutoring practices with respect to the study of literature: grounds on which the interest of literature may be postulated; role of the historical approach as a means of domesticating literary texts; difficulties with respect to the elaborate challenges of literary criticism and theory.
    Older texts concerning the institution of the university and the study of literature may be briefly commented upon (Humboldt, Nietszche). The presentation will be more systematically connected to arguments such as the ones of Paul de Man on "resistance to theory", of Bill Readings on the university in ruins and of Wlad Godzich on the "culture of literacy".

Dr. Evi Voyiatzaki
The Hellenic Open University, Greece

Constraints and Potentialities in Understanding and Evaluating Literature: Flexible Instructions and the Role of Literary Theory
This paper is an attempt to discuss problems related to certain difficulties in the comprehension and handling of educational material available for the introduction of distant learners into the subject of literature.
One of the major problems is the tension between student misconceptions about literature and the complex nature of the educational field itself. The distance learner’s biases range from an undervaluation to an overestimation of the cognitive subject, namely the association of literature either to best sellers and/ or pulp fiction or to the highly speculative field of aesthetics (too difficult to deal with), respectively. On the other hand, the content complexity of the subject itself derives from the intertwining of the historical condition, the literary history (generic definition, classification and categorization of the literary work), and the demands for textual and critical analysis.
Being itself an “ill-structured domain” of knowledge (R. Spiro, P. Feltovitch & Coulson), literary interpretation requires a flexible, instructional strategy which would involve all three domains and would neutralize differences in the learner’s cognitive background.
How could an instructive methodology deal with these underlying biases and the preconceptions inherent in the distant learner’s cognitive background? What is the role of critical theory and how can it lead the learner into this complex system of multiple references to a web of knowledge that combines the history of literature with literary history and critical theory? This paper attempts to tackle the issue with regards to the existing educational material (printed or electronic) and the instructive opportunities at the disposal of the tutor through the currently available educational schemes (group meetings, the assignment of essays, the attendance of the reading schedule, personal contact, e. t. c.).

Professor Dennis Walder
The Open University, UK

Decolonising the Distance Curriculum
The teaching of English Literature as traditionally conceived in the UK underwent radical changes during the 1970s and subsequently as a result of certain well-known socio-historical and intellectual developments. This ‘turn to theory’ undermined the ‘canon’, while producing a more questioning approach towards the way it was taught. But how was this change in the critical status quo reflected in distance teaching, with its emphasis upon access, and its inbuilt tendency towards an authoritarian or at least one-way pedagogy? Are there irreconcilable tensions between trying to radicalise or even merely reform the curriculum and the demands of the distance teaching context? This paper will draw on my personal experience of constructing Honours-level courses in literature at the Open University to explore how it became possible to introduce emerging ideas of postcolonial literary study, thereby ‘decolonising’ the curriculum in at least one key area. The following factors seem crucial: (a) engaging with the contemporary context; (b) registering changes in the subject/discipline; (c) achieving synergy between teaching and research; (d) maintaining an emphasis upon relevant study skills; and (e) maintaining a balance between access and challenge.



For further information please contact: