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In literature, paratextual elements traditionally act as thresholds between the text itself and what is beyond the text. They underline the passage from an extradiegetic level to a diegetic level and, ultimately, in the case of literature, from reality to fiction. Although this model has been articulated to apply to paper publishing, the digital sphere has demonstrated a tendency to increasingly blur the boundaries between the two levels. On the web, everything is text, or rather, more specifically, a small amount of text and an enormous ensemble of paratexts. It is indeed the paratexts that usually play an operational role: paratexts are the devices that allow us to act (change of address, page, liking content, etc.). In other words, the paratexts become the interface, a place of action, a world, or, even better, the world where we act. The paratexts then become an environment; our environment.


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The Directory of Digital Writings

What is a literary work in a digital environment? The Canada Research Chair on Digital Textualities is interested in digital literary forms that do not fall within the definition provided by the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO). Our approach is based on the desire to make visible and accessible works that are not considered a traditional literary form.


Servanne Monjour, Matteo Treleani et Marcello Vitali-Rosati, « Ontologie du numérique. Entre mimésis et réalité », Sens Public, décembre 2017.

Ce dossier se conçoit comme un champ d’exploration des problématiques ontologiques du numérique, dans une perspective résolument interdisciplinaire, accueillant tout autant la philosophie, l’esthétique, les études littéraires, la sémiologie, la sociologie ou les sciences de l’information et de la communication. Des arts numériques à la littérature hypermédiatique, en passant par les webdocumentaires et les jeux vidéo, de nombreux domaines permettent en effet d’étudier ces dichotomies apparemment périlleuses entre représentation et réalité, réel et imaginaire, fiction et documentaire…


The status of the Author in Digital Era (FRQSC)

Questions relating to the author in the digital era constitute a major social issue that concerns entire communities of writers and readers. Since authors are the authority, how can we rethink the process of validation and legitimization of literary content published online today?


Marcello Vitali-Rosati, « Paratexte numérique : la fin de la distinction entre réalité et fiction? », Cahiers ReMix, vol. 1 / 5, 2015.

L’idée que je voudrais essayer d’explorer est la suivante: les éléments paratextuels ont une fonction de seuil entre le hors-texte et le texte; par ce biais, ils nous permettent aussi le passage entre le niveau extradiégétique et le niveau diégétique, et, finalement, dans le cas de la littérature, entre réalité et fiction. Si ce modèle est assez défini dans le cas de l’édition papier, l’espace numérique a tendance à le rendre de plus en plus flou. Dans le Web, tout est texte et/ou paratexte; le même élément textuel (une adresse URL, par exemple) peut servir pour déclarer un passage à la fiction ou pour nous faire acheter quelque chose sur un site de ventes en ligne, ou encore pour regarder la météo ou pour gérer notre compte en banque.


Marcello Vitali-Rosati, « Digital Paratext. Editorialization and the very death of the author », in Examining Paratextual Theory and its Applications in Digital Culture, IGI Global, Hershey, Nadine Desrochers and Daniel Apollon, 2014, p. 110‑127.

As shown by different scholars, the idea of “author” is not absolute or necessary. On the contrary, it came to life as an answer to the very practical needs of an emerging print technology in search of an economic model of its own. In this context, and according to the criticism of the notion of “author” made during the 1960–70s (in particular by Barthes and Foucault), it would only be natural to consider the idea of the author being dead as a global claim accepted by all scholars. Yet this is not the case, because, as Rose suggests, the idea of “author” and the derived notion of copyright are still too important in our culture to be abandoned. But why such an attachment to the idea of “author”? The hypothesis on which this chapter is based is that the theory of the death of the author—developed in texts such as What is an Author? by Michel Foucault and The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes—did not provide the conditions for a shift towards a world without authors because of its inherent lack of concrete editorial practices different from the existing ones. In recent years, the birth and diffusion of the Web have allowed the concrete development of a different way of interpreting the authorial function, thanks to new editorial practices—which will be named “editorialization devices” in this chapter. Thus, what was inconceivable for Rose in 1993 is possible today because of the emergence of digital technology—and in particular, the Web.

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