In this presentation I intend to explore the impact that a few of the more recent open-source computer applications will potentially have on the future course of literary scholarship and I will focus on three specific areas that seem especially pertinent to contemporary literary criticism: programs for the analysis of primary texts, electronic research tools, and versionable writing technologies. Drawing on my experience with some traditional, low-tech research projects--particularly a paper I once wrote dealing with the textual variations between The Great Gatsby and its recently published galley version Trimalchio--I assess some of the strengths and limitations of software like Juxta, Wordle, and TAPoRware for the study of print literature. I am also interested in evaluating how new bibliographic programs like Zotero, which streamline the process of secondary research while making it almost exclusively dependant on computer technology, are affecting the way literary scholars approach research. Lastly, I address the ways in which the composition and publication of literary criticism is evolving in response to the ubiquity of networked writing environments (such as blogs) and wiki technology. As with electronic literature, electronic literary criticism seems enhanced by a shift toward collaborative effort.
In essence, this project intends to offer a revision of how, in the wake of all the free and easily accessible technology that the internet makes availble, literary scholars are now inclined (and, to stay relevant to the discipline, will soon be required) to read, research, and write critical analyses.