• University of Basel logo

Reading Literature in the Digital Age

Learn new ways of interpreting literary texts, from time-tested methods to computer-assisted practices such as distant reading.

Reading Literature in the Digital Age
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours
  • CertificatesAvailable

Why join the course?

As we make sense of what we read, we construe meaning using the ancient cultural technique of interpretation. Only rarely do we actually reflect this process: what are the means that help us to understand literary texts? How does interpretation work? And how has our increasing use of e-books and tablets changed the way we read and interpret literature?

This free online course addresses these key questions as it introduces you to a variety of ways of interpreting literary texts. We will look into time-tested methods such as close reading and historical contextualisation. We shall also address more recent, computer-assisted practices such as distant reading.

Do we read differently on e-books, tablets and mobiles?

You will learn about the professional reading practices used by literary scholars. But we will also probe the benefits and limitations of the screen-based reading all of us perform every day as we move from hyperlink to hyperlink.

Along the way, we will inquire into the materiality of texts, asking ourselves what difference it makes whether we encounter a poem, play or novel as an e-book, paperback, hardback or manuscript.

While we will take a modern American poem as our tutor text, you will encounter a great variety of literary texts and forms. We will also visit the rich library holdings of the University of Basel, one of the world’s 50 oldest universities.

Join us in this treasure hunt for meaning

Through the course, you will become acquainted with established, professional reading practices as well as newer, computer-driven reading techniques. As you reflect and discuss your own reading processes, you will also discover unexpected approaches, getting a cutting-edge introduction to what it means to read literature in the digital age.

You will learn how to uncover the hidden treasures in literary texts, including a well-known poem by Ezra Pound, and follow the educator as he chases the clues pointing to a mysterious connection between this American poet and Basel.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsReading. We do it all the time. Standing, sitting, sprawling.

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 secondsBut what strategies do we use to make sense of what we read? And how have our reading strategies changed since we've entered the digital age? Do our electronic devices influence the way we read? In this course, you'll discuss these questions. And you'll also gain insights into how literary scholars address them. You'll learn that pecking is not only for birds.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsYou'll reflect on the organic nature of literary texts.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsAnd you'll turn into a social reader.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 secondsI'm looking forward to welcoming you in this free online course. It's called "Reading Literature in the Digital Age," and it's starting soon. Join today.

Who is the course for?

This course is for people from all walks of life who enjoy reading literature and would like to know how literary scholars interpret texts in the digital age. If you are a student looking for an introduction to literary analysis, Reading Literature in the Digital Age will help you find it.

The only requirement is that you like to read and love to reflect your experience and discuss it with others.

What do people say about this course?

I can honestly say that this course has been the most stimulating, intriguing and fun FutureLearn course that I have participated in.

A previous learner on this course

Who will you learn with?

Associate Professor and Head of North American and General Literature at the Department of English of the University of Basel, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Peter Schnetz, University of Basel).

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats, to celebrate taking part.