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Towards a Politics of Postmodern Alter(ed)native Texts: A Taxonomy and Exploration of the (Trans)Texture of Print and Electronic Texts

Erasmus Mundus Crossways in Cultural Narratives Dissertation

Maria Florencia Borrello

on 11 March 2016

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Transcript of Towards a Politics of Postmodern Alter(ed)native Texts: A Taxonomy and Exploration of the (Trans)Texture of Print and Electronic Texts

Textual Intervention, Adaptation and Appropriation
Critical-creative reading and (re)writing
"The best way to understand how a text works, I argue, is to change it: to play around with it, to intervene in it in some way (large or small)," so as to explore "possible permutations and realisations of texts in and out of their original contexts" (Pope, 1995: 1)
There is over a 200-year-old history of altering the contents of other written texts.
In addition, the new millennium is full of activity as cut-up, mash-up, collage and remix culture enter the mainstream.
The Jefferson Bible
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth
represents Jefferson's effort to extract the doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects, as well as perceived misinterpretations that were believed to have been added by the Four Evangelists.
1966 Tom Phillips
1804 Thomas Jefferson
1977 Ronald Johnson
Johnson takes John Milton's
Paradise Lost
(1667) and fades out words and lines from the epic poem to create his deconstructive work titled
Radi Os
2004 Jen Bervin
The Ms of M Kin
is an erasure of
The Poems of Emily Dickinson
2008 Janet Holmes
2010 Jonathan Safran Foer
Bervin grays out portions of text from Shakespeare's sonnets to create her work entitled
In the tradition of Tom Phillips' work, Jonathan Safran Foer cuts words from
The Street of Crocodiles
, a 1934 collection of short stories written by Bruno Schultz, in order to create his own story,
Tree of Codes
2010 Austin Kleon
Making use of newspaper articles, Austin Kleon blacks out words in order to produce his book of poems
Newspaper Blackout
Cut-up Texts
Illuminated Texts
Found Poetry
Blackout Poetry
Erased Poetry
Alter(ed)native Texts
Mash-up Art
2005 Jonathan Safran Foer
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
is a mash-up, combining Jane Austen's classic 1813 novel
Pride and Prejudice
with elements of modern zombie fiction.
2009 Seth Grahame-Smith
narrates the story of a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell, whose father dies two years before the story begins, on the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11. The narrative uses uncommon literary techniques, such as unconventional typography.
Visual Writing
1969 Kurt Vonnegut
is a satirical novel about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim. Ranked the 18th greatest English novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. The novel makes use of illustrations in dialogue with the narrative and is written in telegraphic, schizophrenic manner.
References and
General Bibliography

Thank you!

"If you think adaptation can be understood by using novels and films alone, you’re wrong. The Victorians had a habit of adapting just about everything—and in just about every possible direction; the stories of poems, novels, plays, operas, paintings, songs, dances, and 'tableaux vivants' were constantly being adapted from one medium to another and then back again. We postmoderns have clearly inherited this same habit, but we have even more new materials at our disposal—not only film, television, radio, and the various electronic media, of course, but also theme parks, historical enactments, and virtual reality experiments. The result? Adaptation has run amok" (Hutcheon, 2006: xi)
Grayed Out Poetry
Towards a Politics of Postmodern Alter(ed)native Texts: A Taxonomy and Exploration of the (Trans)Texture of Print and Electronic Texts
Explore other forms of textual intervention that do not necessarily involve print or electronic texts

Textual intervention or adaptation can also take the form of
postcolonial (re)writings
of canonical texts or
film adaptations
from written source texts, which may fill in the gaps of such text.

In addition, textual intervention or adaptation can also take the form of
mash-up music
mash-up musicals
, as well as
radio programmes
television series
video games
and even
(e.g., Béatrice Coron's cut stories) to mention just a few.
Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
University of Saint Andrews
Universita degli Studi di Bergamo

Triggering Questions
Method of Analysis
Qualitative Research
Exploratory Study

paradigm of analysis that focuses more narrowly on
(Re)Writing Theories

Main concepts: dissemination, supplement, trace, graft,
, graft, textual intervention, adaptation, appropriation, intertextuality, critical-creative reading and (re)writing.

Theoretical Framework
and Scope of Analysis

Dimensions of Analysis
Literature Review
and Methodology

Postmodern Thought
Approaches to Writing and Rewriting
State of the Art
Twenty Postmodern Alter(ed)native Texts
Preliminary Conclusions
Constraints of the Analysis & Suggestions for Further Research
Textual Intervention

Textual Adaptation

(Lyotard, 1979; Baudrillard, 1994; Derrida, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1985a, 1985b, 1987, 1992, 1996, Derrida in Bloom, 1988)
(Bakhtin, 1929, 1981, 1984; Kristeva, 1980; Genette, 1997a, 1997b; Iser in Lodge, 1988; Kermode, 1975; Jenkins, 1992; Pope, 1995, 1998; Hutcheon, 2006; Sanders, 2010)
Units of Analysis
Preliminary Conclusions
Towards a taxonomy of
Decentered and hybrid postmodern subjects.
They generate triggering questions for or points of entry into the analysis of prior works.
They offer a space to create a dialogue with the text itself.
Moving beyond content analysis...
...towards a more radical analysis of the artistic, critical, creative, dialogical and performative operations that readers/writers resort to in order to produce experimental literature.
They offer an opportunity to respond to various literary genres.
They deconstruct and reshape traditional assumptions of different texts mean.
Readers who read non-linearly, who "read otherwise"
Alter(ed)native texts or experimental literature proves that the nature of discourse
excludes totalisation
and that it allows
generic multiplicity

Each text is thus unfinalisable and inexhaustible for it is always ready to be (re)visited, (re)doubled and (re)produced from within its inner edges, each and every time readers (mis)appropriate such text.
What do readers read?

do readers read?

Is there something outside the text?

If texts always refer to other texts, is then a text's narrative ever finalisable?
Erasmus Mundus Master Programme
Crossways in Cultural Narratives

Textual intervention, adaptation and appropriation, as central practices of literary experimentalism, can shed light on
readers read, as well as on the real nature of narrative and its texture.
of textual intervention, i.e. no content analysis provided
Taken as
A Humument
is an illuminated manuscript created from an 1892 Victorian novel by W. H. Mallock entitled
A Human Document.
In his work, Phillips blacks out words from the source text, leaving only a few others behind, and then paints and draws over the pages.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
María Florencia Borrello

Anderson, W.T. (ed.) (1996) The Fontana Postmodernism Reader. London: Fontana Press. An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Austen, J. (1813/1994) Pride and Prejudice. London: Penguin Popular Classics.
Bakhtin, M. (1929) Problems of Dostoevsky’s Art. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.
-------------- (1981) The Dialogic Imagination. Texas: The University of Texas Press.
------------- (1984) Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.
Baudrillard, J. (1994) Simulacra and Simulation. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.
Bertens, H. (1993) “The Postmodern Weltanschauung and its Relation to Modernism: An Introductory Survey” in Joseph Natoli and Linda Hutcheon A Postmodern Reader. New York: State Univesity of New York Press.
---------------- (1995) The Idea of the Postmodern: A History. London: Routledge.
Bervin, J. (2004) Nets. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Press.
Bloom, H. (ed.) (1988) Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller. Deconstruction and Criticism. London: The Continuum Publishing Company.
Cuddon, J.A. (1999) The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Fourth Edition. London: Penguin Books.
De Certeau, M. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. California: University of California Press, in Henry Jenkins Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. London and New York: Routledge.
Derrida, J. (1972) Dissemination. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
------------ (1976) Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. London: John Hopkins University Press.
------------- (1978) Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
-------------- (1981) Positions, trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
------------- (1982) Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
-------------- (1985a) “Des Tours de Babel,” trans. Joseph F. Graham, in Joseph Graham (ed.) Difference in Translation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
------------- (1985b) The Ear of the Other: Texts and Discussion with Jacques Derrida, ed. Christie McDonald, trans. Peggy Kamuf. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
-------------- (1987) Glas, trans. J. P. Leavy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
-------------- (1988) “Living On: Border Lines,” trans. James Hulbert, in Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller. Deconstruction and Criticism. London: The Continuum Publishing Company.
-------------- (1992) Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Attridge. London: Routledge.
-------------- (1996) Le monolingualisme de l’autre: ou la prothese d’ origine. Editions Galilee. English trans.: Monolingualism of the Other; or the Prosthesis of Origin, trans. by French Ministry of Culture (1998). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.
Genette, G. (1997a) Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.
-------------- (1997b) Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Grahame-Smith, S. (2009) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Philadelphia: Quirk Productions, Inc.
Gregson, I. (2004) Postmodern Literature. London: Arnold.
Grenz, S.J. (1996) A Primer on Postmodernism. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Hassan, I. (1975) Paracriticisms: Seven Speculations of the Times. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
------------- (1987) The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture. Ohio: Ohio State University Press.
Holmes, J. (2008) The Ms of My Kin. Exeter: Shearsman Books.
Hutcheon, L. (1988) A Poetics of Postmodernism. History, Theory, Fiction. London: Routledge.
----------------- (1989) The Politics of Postmodernism. London: Routledge.
----------------- (2006) A Theory of Adaptation. London: Routledge.
Iser, W. (1988) “The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach,” in David Lodge (ed.) Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader. London and New York: Longman.
Jameson, F. (1984) “Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review, 146: 59-92.
Jefferson, T. (1804) The Jefferson Bible of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Boston: Beacon Press.
Jencks, C. (1996) “What is Post-Modernism?,” in Walter Truett Anderson (ed.) The Fontana Postmodernism Reader. London: Fontana Press. An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
----------- (2007) Critical Modernism: Where is Postmodernism Going? London: Wiley Academy.
Jenkins, H. (1992) Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. London and New York: Routledge.
Johnson, R. (1977) Radi Os. Berkeley: Sand Dollar
Kermode, F. (1975) The Classic: literary images of permanence and change. New York: The Viking Press.
Kleon, A. (2010) Newspaper Blackout. New York: Harper Perennial.
Kristeva, J. (1980) Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. “Word, Dialogue and Novel”. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lodge, D. (ed.) (1988) Modern Criticism and Theory. A Reader. London and New York: Longman.
Lyotard, J.F. (1979) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Theory and History of Literature, v.10), trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Mallock, W.H. (1892) A Human Document. London: London Chapman and Hall.
Marshall, B.K. (1992) Teaching the Postmodern: Fiction and Theory. London and New York: Routledge.
McHale, B. (1987) Postmodernist Fiction. London and New York: Routledge.
McRae, J. (1991) Literature with a small 'l'. London: Macmillan.
Miller, J.H. (1988) “The Critic as Host,” in Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller. Deconstruction and Criticism. London: The Continuum Publishing Company.
Milton, J. (1667) Paradise Lost. London: Samuel Simmons.
Natoli, J.; Hutcheon, L. (1993) A Postmodern Reader. New York: State Univesity of New York Press.
Parker, R.D. (2008) How to Interpret Literature. Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Phillips, T. (1966) A Humument. London: The Tetrad Press Edition.
Pope, R. (1995) Textual Intervention. Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
-------------- (1998) The English Studies Book. London and New York: Routledge.
Safran Foer, J. (2005) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
------------------ (2010) Tree of Codes. London: Visual Editions.
Schultz, B. (1934) The Street of Crocodiles. New York: Walker and Company.
Smith, G.B. (1996) Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Transition to Postmodernity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Vonnegut, K. (1969) Slaughterhouse-Five. Croydon: Vintage.

General Bibliography

Culler, J. (1994) On Deconstruction. London: Routledge.
Norris, C. (1993) Deconstruction Theory and Practice. London and New York: Routledge.
Sarup, M. (1993) An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism. Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Why Textual Intervention Adaptation or Appropriation?
Key Shortcoming in Pope's, Hutcheon's and Sanders's work
Pope's text seems to lack a balanced synthesis between theoretical content and practical exemplification of intervened texts. Hutcheon and Sanders, on the other hand, do include examples of adapted and appropriated texts, but provide no reference to, and thus no exploration of, "non-canonical" or unconventional forms of textual intervention or adaptation. That is, while both authors explore films, postcolonial rewritings and television adaptations, they do not delve into cut-up, mash-up and other techniques of literary experimentalism, which fall out of the norm of the said well-established forms of textual intervention but which
indeed the norm nowadays. Moreover, none of these authors include digital literature and electronic texts among their examples and analysis.
Exploring Textual Intervention and the (Trans)Texture of Texts
Textual intervention allows readers and writers to view literature as content, form, meaning and semiotics forever in flux and subject to multiple interpretations. Textual intervention embodies such flux and contributes to making accessible that which a given text contains, but also that which it excludes (Borrello, 2014).
Meaning is provisional. A text's closure is just a temporary illusion, following Derrida. (Trans)Texture of texts
In a Derridian sense, what I term a text's
can be said to stand for the
potential narrative field
within the
actualised narrative field
. The
across which the narrative of a text crosses, uncrosses and recrosses itself beyond exhaustion, constructing again, in a different form what it deconstructs and (trans)weaves through the traces (Borrello, 2014).

A text's (trans)texture is then the site where infinite adaptations are played out as supplements to the storyline, as language play per se (Borrello, 2014).
[T]he literary work has two poles, which we might call the artistic and the aesthetic: the artistic refers to the text created by the author, and the aesthetic to the realization accomplished by the reader. From this polarity it follows that the literary work cannot be completely identical with the text, or with the realization of the text, but in fact must lie half-way between the two. The work is more than the text, for the text only takes on life when it is realized (Iser, 1988: 274-275).
The literary text activates our own faculties, enabling us to recreate the world it presents. The product of this creative activity is what we might call the virtual dimension of the text, which endows it with its reality. This virtual dimension is not the text itself, nor is it the imagination of the reader: it is the coming together of text and imagination (Iser, 1988: 191).
Moreover, according to literary scholar Wolfgang Iser in
The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach
In addition,

, there are two
'poles' or texts within the literary work itself:
virtual dimension of the text = a text's (trans)texture
Constraints of the Analysis & Suggestions for Further Research
Print Texts + Electronic Texts
virtual = potential & virtual = electronic
Electronic Texts
Following McRae, alter(ed)native texts can be said to be valid examples of
literature with a small 'l'

Following Lyotard, they can be said to constitute

'small scale narratives'

Alter(ed)native texts have an

artistic value

and enhance

visual literacy

Alter(ed)native texts unveil the

born within the complex matrix of
Literature as Art

In Derridean terms, they constitute a
deconstructive narrative

or, rather, "the narrative of deconstruction in deconstruction" (Derrida in Bloom, 1998: 100).

In Bakhtinian terms, alter(ed)native texts imply a


between and within the source narrative and its resignified product, "and dialogue not as a means but as an end in itself. Dialogue here is not the threshold to action, it is the action itself" (Bakhtin, 1984: 252).
Unconventional Texts
Combinatorial Texts

Several Authors
“The Manga Shakespeare series... is abridged, but this should not be seen as problematic, given the exceptional support the series offers readers in understanding the narratives and language of the plays. Varied angles, pacing and page layout create a great deal of interest and support and direct the reader.” Dr Mel Gibson, National Teaching Fellow and visual literacy expert.
Graphic Novels
2004 Umberto Eco
The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
is a novel by Umberto Eco. The title is taken from the title of an Italian edition album of an episode of the American comic strip
Tim Tyler's Luck
, created by Lyman Young, elder brother of
creator, Chic Young.
Umberto Eco includes myriad references to both scholarly and popular culture in the book (notably the
Flash Gordon
strips), and the novel boasts abundant intertextuality.

2012 & 2013 Russ Kick (ed.)
The Graphic Canon: The World's Great Literature as Comics and Visuals
(Seven Stories Press) is a three-volume anthology, edited by Russ Kick, which renders some of the world's greatest and most famous literature into graphic-novel form. The first two volumes were released in 2012 and the concluding volume was published in 2013.

1987 Michael Joyce
is a work of electronic literature written in 1987 by American author Michael Joyce. It was published by Eastgate Systems on diskette in 1990 and is known as the first hypertext fiction. It was followed by a series of other Storyspace hypertext fictions, including Stuart Moulthrop's , Shelley Jackson's , Deena Larsen's , Mary-Kim Arnold's and J. Yellowlees Douglas' .
Afternoon, a story
Navigatory Texts
Victory Garden
Patchwork Girl
Marble Springs
I Have Said Nothing
Animated Texts
eMash-up Art

2005 Kate Pullinger & Chris Joseph
Inanimate Alice
Set in a technology-augmented near-future, tells the story of a young girl who grows up to become a videogame designer at the biggest games company in the world. Beginning in China when Alice is eight years old, and told over ten increasingly complex episodes, the series follows the journey of Alice and her closest friend, Brad, around the world and towards their final destiny.

1996 Geoff Ryman
Tube Theatre
253: The Print Remix.
or is a novel by Geoff Ryman, originally created as a website in 1996 and then published in 1998 as a paper book titled
Raymond Queneau’s or (original French title: ) is a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any line from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others so that there are 100,000,000,000,000 different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day. When Queneau ran into trouble while writing the poem(s), he solicited the help of mathematician Francois Le Lionnais, and in the process they initiated Oulipo.
A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems
One hundred million million poems
Cent mille milliards de poèmes
1961 Raymond Queneau


2011 Mauro Césari
El Oregano de las Especies
The Oregano of the Species
) is a 600-page text based on Darwin's
The Origin of the Species
Through the interactions of a somehow unrefined character with textual bodies, The "Videopoemas de Roberto Ortiz" series parodies some of the most common preconceptions around poetry and poetics. Originally conceived only as short web clips, this idea of the human body creating or interacting with text was extended towards the formulation of longer video-essays, as well as the live performance PONGem, featured at the International Digital Language, Media & Arts Festival E-Poetry 2011 at Buffalo NY. In this videopoem, Roberto Ortiz reworks a poem written by Daniel Bencomo.
Digital Poetry / Videopoems / Performance / Digital Storytelling / Protohypertexts / Kinetics books & Poems

1994 Go Nagai
Go Nagai is a Japanese manga artist and a prolific author of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotica. He is best known for creating
Mazinger Z.
In this case,
Dante Shinkyoku
is a manga adaption of Dante Alighieri's classic work
The Divine Comedy.

2014 Yukito and Yushi Kawata

1995 CLAMP
Don Quijote de la Mancha,
by Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra, has been adapted into a manga entitled
Ureigao no kishi sono ai
(The Knight with a Sad Face and Love) by Yukito and Yushi Kawata.
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
is a comedy,
(love between women), manga written and illustrated by Clamp, an all-female manga artist team consisting of Satsuki Igarashi, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Nanase Ohkawa.
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
appeared as a serial in the manga magazine
from 1993 to 1995. Kadokawa Shoten, a Japanese publisher, collected the seven chapters into one bound volume and published it in September 1995. The story revolves around a Japanese high-school girl who finds herself pulled into various worlds populated by females who consider her appealing. In 2002, Tokyopop announced that it had licensed
Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
for an English-language translation, and published it in October 2003. It received a range of critical reaction from reviewers, from praise to criticism.
Detailed Analysis of
of those Alter(ed)native Texts

2012 Play Creatividad
iPoe Collection
(Volume 1 & 2) is an interactive and illustrated adaptation of some of the most famous Edgar Allan Poe's short stories.
iPoe Collection
is available as an application for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

2013-2014 Kasami-Sensei
DeviantART French user Kasami-Sensei has re-envisioned the sweet and innocent protagonists of several Disney films in the style of zombie hunters from the television series developed by Frank Daravont,
The Walking Dead. The Walking Disney
is a collection of illustrations, accompanied by fan-fiction stories available on Kasami-Sensei's page. Kasami-Sensei is also the creator of
Twisted Disney
available both in DeviantART and Pinterest.
Video Art

Steve Roggenbuck
Video Logs
Video Poetry
Digital Storytelling

2008 Nancyowho
"Little Orphan Annie" is an 1885 poem written by James Whitcomb Riley. First titled "The Elf Child", Riley then changed the name to "Little Orphan Allie" at its third printing. However, a typecasting error during printing renamed the poem to its current form. As one of Riley's most well known poems, it served as the inspiration for the character Little Orphan Annie upon whom was based a comic strip, plays, radio programs, television shows, and movies. This digital story entitled "Little Orphan Ollie" by Nancyowho is an adaptation of Riley's "Little Orphan Annie."
2009 Alexander Aciman & Emmett Rensin
is the product of two students' efforts to reduce great literature to 140-character 'tweets'.
All twenty texts rewrite or rework previous source texts

2011 Alison Clifford
The Sweet Old Etcetera
is an interactive web project that sets the poetry of E. E. Cummings against an imaginary landscape. E.E.Cummings' breaking of syntactic structures makes some of his works appear more like computer codes rather than conventional poetry. The project is Clifford's personal response to the poet’s work, aiming to capture the poems’ playful spirit in an interactive, experimental and highly visual way as web-art.
The Sweet Old Etcetera
removes E. E. Cummings' poem from the confines of the static printed page, offering a further level of engagement to the reader.
2014 Charles Cumming
The 21 Steps
is a navigatory and interactive adaptation of
The 39 Steps
by John Buchan. This story, among others, is available online at http://www.wetellstories.co.uk/stories/week1/, as part of a project launched by Penguin Books Ltd. with the aim of adapting and rewriting 6 different stories by 6 different authors in a time span of 6 weeks.
MA/MLitt María Florencia Borrello
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