I would say I am pretty familiar with N. Katherine Hayles’ as I am using her essays “How We Read” and “Deep and Hyperattention,” as well as her book How We Became Posthuman, in my final research project. In the essay assigned for this week, “The Future of Literature,” I saw many connections to her other works. In “How We Read,” Hayles discusses, obviously, the shifting notion of how we read, and “The future of Lit” directly correlates to that earlier essay in that here she is interested in the changing nature of what we read (aka we need to change how we read because what we read is changing, way to lay it all out for us single handedly, Hayles!). Within her other texts I have become familiar with, Hayles typically doesn’t ask her reader to choose one polarized camp over another, instead she always encourages us to open up our minds and examine what is being expanded, not left behind — which is exactly what she proposes in “The Future of Lit” as well: interactions between digital and print texts rather than trying to distance the two (structured similarly to her arguments on the human/posthuman and close reading/hyperreading). For instance, in “How We Read,” Hayles poses a synergy of reading strategies and an end to a reading strategy hierarchy, and likewise, she is asking us in “The Future of Lit” to consider how “print and electronic textuality deeply interpenetrate one another” (86), as opposed to believing that print is dead and books will simply disappear. In this current essay, she brings up her theory on hyperattention in “The Future of Lit,” which I have read more extensively about in her essay dedicated to the subject where she discusses both the benefits and drawbacks of hyper and deep attention and why the shift in cognitive modes is occurring. In the essay that we read for this week, I found it interesting that she was talking about the way in which digital and print texts are changing to appeal simultaneously to both deep attention and hyperattention.
I also found her point about “embodied experiences” compelling because it signals back to my suggestion of the “posthuman reader” in my research paper. I’ve suggested this notion out of two others of Hayles’, both her idea of what it means to read in the 21st century as well as what it means to be human in the 21st century, where the posthuman reader doesn’t necessarily have to possess nonbiological components, but, by extension, embodies attributes that have most commonly have come to be associated with ‘machine.’ In “The Future of Lit,” Hayles is providing us with examples of virtual, computer simulation texts, and says that “embodied experiences inform our perceptions and actively constitute the complex meanings we derive from computational surfaces” (87). I think that ’embodied experiences’ are signalling the posthuman reader by extension of embodying the machine. Hayles writes that this engagement of “human and machine cognizers shakes us out of our accustomed place of reading to an active encounter that hints the place of the human in the contemporary world” (88), in other words the ‘era of the posthuman’ that Hayles takes an entire book to discuss.