Lunchtime Seminar: Barbara Holloway on close reading, websites and content for the Anthropocene

‘How a Horse Faces a Hailstorm’: Close Reading, Websites

and Content for the Anthropocene


Thursday 3 November, 1pm Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

In this paper I examine prose structures and government websites using critical reading practice to identify rhetorical and narrative devices common to both. Until now rarely used in evaluation of the digital interface, I argue such a reading identifies the site-visitor’s experience of continuity or of alienation in the transfer from page to web conventions, from ‘narrative’ to ‘interactive’ infrastructure.

I first place the paper culture of representations of three topics—environmental issues, place-relations and individual responsibility — historically, through prose of fiction (Stories of the Riverina, E. O. Schlunke 1965), instruction (Bush Fire Control in Australia, R. H. Luke, 1961) and non-fiction (David Lindenmayer, Woodlands: a Disappearing Landscape, 2005).

I then take these genres and topics to examine the interface of current Government websites of WA, NSW and the ACT. All dedicated to climate change, a close reading of them shows certain linear traditions of ‘paper’ communication are perpetuated in layouts and menu options. While rhetorical devices and figurative language remain as visual image and colour content, these too draw on material traditions.

Barbara Holloway is a Visiting Fellow in SLLL, researching the writers and natural history of South-West region of NSW for a publication on the makings of forest, literature and conservation. She has published research and creative nonfiction in various journals and collections and has an essay in the next issue of Fusion and a review in the Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism (of which she is an assistant editor).

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