Today’s technology-driven era has brought in exciting opportunities as well as numerous concerns. The ever-expanding WWW offers mind-boggling choices, not just in terms of genres, but also in the number and variety of writings and authors across the world. Social media and the interactive possibilities of the web provide great scope for teachers to engage learners. But, from hieroglyphics and visual narratives on cave walls to writing on e-walls—blogs, social media posts, e-novels and hyper-texts, each replete with hyperlinks, images, graphics, and photos—have we marched a long way forward, or just turned full circle? From wordy, exhaustive trilogies to Twiction and Terribly Tiny Tales, how does a critical reader negotiate the range? Moreover, how does the teacher deal with all of this? Have our teaching methodologies and materials adapted to the simultaneous occurrence of texts and texting in our classrooms? Our call for papers for this special issue of FORTELL sought to bring forth deliberations on the burgeoning new genres of e-literature and their implications for ELT. And were we rewarded!
The opening article by C. Savitha explores both the pedagogical possibilities and the emerging concerns of integrating social media communication in the curriculum at the undergraduate level. Presenting an example of effective adaptation, Rajinder Singh Ahluwalia shares his experiences of “blended learning” i.e., integrating online resources in the traditional classroom. Utilizing the humungous databases available online, Vandana Lunyal explicates how high-speed searching tools such as Concordance can be used to enhance lexical competence at various levels. Taking an evolutionary perspective towards creative writing, Sumati explores hybrid genres of fiction in the digital environment and foregrounds Electronic Literature as “the natural outgrowth of the developmental process of literary communication”.
Change is trending these days, and as digital technology ushers in newer modes of writing, it also arouses nostalgia about loss; of the printed word on paper, of single authorship, and perhaps more pertinently for teachers of English Language, concern about neglect of norms, especially punctuation. Observing this language change, two young scholars, Maria Teresa Cox and Riya Pundir offer an exploratory study in an interesting paper titled, “The Mysterious Disappearance of the Punctuation Dot”.
Though the Internet is largely seen as an enabling and empowering medium, one cannot lose sight of the fact that despite its availability in numerous languages, it is arguably Anglo-centric. Subhashini Rajasekaran and Rajesh Kumar interrogate the hegemony of “monolingual and monoglossic language ideologies” and bring to the fore challenges and strategies to leverage heteroglossic multilingualism in the Indian Education System. Ravindra B. Tasildar’s paper offers a thoughtful commentary on the curricula being offered by various universities in the name of ELT and emphasizes the need for a functional orientation. Jaipal and M. R. Vishwanathan analyse the gap between the market-driven demand for excellence in spoken English and the lack of proficiency in communication.
If the virtual space has its own power dynamics, so does physical space. Through her discerning article, Rachna Sethi tours the architectural landscape of Delhi and explores the power of space and spaces of power in Krishan Pratap Singh’s Delhi Durbar. Scripting another perspective on power, Manjari Chaturvedi takes a post-colonial stance to analyse Mutiny novels through her study of Nana Saheb in Gadar (1930).
Knitting together various threads of discussions around hyper-fiction, creative writing and the challenges and opportunities for teachers today, we have an insightful interview with Professor Pushpinder Syal. Also, do check out the very doable language games and activities and book reviews; aptly, one is of an e-book and the other on developing speaking skills of young Indian learners.
It has been our endeavour to offer, as always, a judicious selection of articles focused on the core areas of this special issue as well as articles of general interest. We hope you will savour them and continue to support FORTELL both as contributors and readers.
Iqbal Judge and Gitanjali Chawla
Iqbal Judge is Head, PG Department of English at PG Government College for Girls, Sector 11, Chandigarh. Her teaching and research interests span gender issues, IWE and ELT.
Gitanjali Chawla is Associate Professor, Department of English, Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi. Her research areas include folklore and popular culture and she is keenly interested in innovative pedagogies in the virtual mode.