Infinite Ulysses (www.InfiniteUlysses.com) is a digital edition aimed at the social reading of James Joyce’s challenging novel Ulysses. Readers can highlight parts of the book and annotate those highlights with marginalia such as interpretations, questions, contextualizations, and translations, as well as read one another’s annotations on the novel. The site also uses voting, tagging, favoriting, and filtering of annotations to help each reader personalize what annotations you see to your background, interests, and needs.
An example classroom use would set a literary course’s student in small teams of 3-5 readers each. Each team would be in charge of reading each meeting’s selection through the lens of a particular theme such as a literary school (e.g. post-colonial theory), awareness (e.g. gender), technology (e.g. how the written word such as newspapers and telegrams plays a role in the Modernist text), or symbol (e.g. money). While completing their reading, members of each team would be asked to annotate the digital text with thoughts and interpretations in line with their theme, with a guideline of writing at least 5 substantive (100-200 word) comments per episode. If the reading workload permits, the teacher might assign each team to also read one supplementary academic article that addresses Ulysses or Modernist novels and the team’s theme. Students could then be encouraged to use their annotations to support or contradict the articles’ arguments.
These annotation themes might persist through their reading of the entire novel. Alternatively, the teacher could assign each group a different focus for each reading selection to better suit the selection and/or the available supplementary readings. Annotating while reading encourages active interpretation and peer discussion, and the addition of a themed focus to this student annotation helps students focus and refine their commentary. Additionally, students in the various teams benefit from the variety of themes and approaches taken by their peers without needing to step through a reading focused on each theme themselves.
Teachers may direct students to the site for extra reading help, ask students to annotate the text during their reading to better prepare for class (and show they’ve done the reading), or be assigned specific types of annotation such as highlighting and discussing the purpose of instances of intertextuality. Teachers may also use the site as class prep, refamiliarizing themselves with the types of questions and interpretations first-time readers of the novel might bring to their classes. Teachers interested in signing up a class of students in bulk are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Readers of all backgrounds are welcome! Join our active reading community of 17,000+ unique site visitors, 650+ members, and over one thousand annotations.
Amanda Visconti, Purdue University