Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recap: Black Literary Suite—Wikipedia Edition

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The Project on the History of Black Writing teamed up with the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas to host its latest Black Literary Suite (BLS) from March 15- April 27. The most recent suite focused on Wikipedia and African American Literature.

In the “100 Novels Project,” 49 of the novels have Wikipediapages. “The Black Literary Suite: Wikipedia Edition” examined the particular ways in which the online website presents the novels. Keeping with our presentation format, the exhibit was a walk-through exhibit where spectators were able to use MP3 players to guide themselves, independently, through 14 panels.

Numerous studies have attested to the validity of Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s influence on larger audiences perceptions of African American literature is notable especially considering how the internet plays a significant part in how readers access information about black writers. For instance, try entering “Richard Wright” or “Toni Morrison” into a Google search and within the first two hits, Wikipedia will appear.

What is the significance of this, though? The information provided on Wikipedia about black writers, their early lives, their education, their publication histories, their political views, etc. shapes how readers interpret the legacy of these writers. In addition, the ability of Wikipedia to link to black novels also has an effect on how readers interpret plots, characters, and settings of a particular novel.

Below, are pictures from the latest BLS.

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