Posts Tagged ‘print literature

#ELRBOOKS: Book reviews by Kathi Inman Berens

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The ELR is delighted to share a very generous contribution by Kathi Inman Berens that she defined “Five Books About E-Literature Interfaces”. The Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Publishing in Portland State University’s English Department chose books that were all published between 2015-2018 to bring to our attention the concepts of materiality and interface in both electronic and print literature. More importantly, what really shows how central the print book as a medium is in digital culture, is the concept of liberature (with b) which reveals in which ways a book conveys literary meaning to the reader.

Good read!

These five books declare new aspects of e-literary interfaces as material sites of inquiry and cultural intervention. Challenged to write short reviews of five books about e-literature, I selected these recent books written by authors living in Poland, Denmark, Norway and the United States paying particular attention to interface as a site of encounter. In addition to being erudite, these books are all immensely pleasurable to read. I sequence them to tell a story from general to specific and back again: from a definitive overview of electronic literature, to the medial history of one interface, to playable books as genre, to a close reading of one e-lit work from three vantages, to a critical treatment of mobile and pervasive literary interfaces.

  • Electronic Literature, by Scott Rettberg
  • The Book, by Amaranth Borsuk
  • Liberature: A Book-bound Genre, by Katarzyna Bazarnik
  • Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone’s Project for the Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit}, by Jessica Pressman, Mark C. Marino, and Jeremy Douglass
  • The Metainterface – The Art of Platforms, Cities and Clouds, by Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold

In Electronic Literature (Polity: 2018). Scott Rettberg offers a definitive introduction to e-literature suited for classroom use and field overview. Rettberg’s comprehensive vision attends to origin stories that make the claim for e-literature as an essential component of 21st-century literature and art by connecting e-literature to print-borne avant-garde literary movements such as surrealism, Dadaism, Flarf, concrete poetry, and metafiction; and to performance art movements such as the Situationists, psychogeography, Happenings, and various installation artists. Compendious in scope and playful in tone, Electronic Literature is that rare book that can teach things both to specialists and newcomers, inviting everybody to the banquet that is e-literature’s generic diversity. “The Internet is the most important contemporary communication network, but earlier discourse networks, such as the postal system, have also been used for literary art” (156) Rettberg writes, noting postal art as a precursor to network fictions such as netprov, cellphone novels and codework.

This is just one early example in the book of how “commerce-driven communication technologies can be configured as venues [where] the network can take the place of the gallery.” The history Rettberg traces from local or embodied spaces to networks, is structurally replicated in chapters on “Hypertext Fiction” and “Interactive Fiction and Other Gamelike Forms.” E-literature is perhaps still most associated with hypertext in the cultural imagination, which Rettberg calls “a strange situation” because it’s “the genre that has been most written about in the field while simultaneously the genre least actively pursued by writers in recent years” (86). (Don’t worry, Twine fans: Rettberg devotes a good chunk of the “IF and Other Gamelike Forms” to discussing this open-source hypertext framework and community, which Rettberg depicts in his discussion of Porpentine’s works as a lovechild between hypertext and interactive fiction.) The traffic between community formation and technopoesis is an abiding theme of this book, attending carefully to who made what and when. That kind of documentation is especially important because e-literature works are highly ephemeral. Rettberg masterfully charts a field of literary influence with emphasis on nodes; his work distantly reading e-literature dissertations and citational practices, and his curatorial practice of exhibiting significant media archeological archives such as PO.EX, supplies a bird’s eye view of a field that Scott Rettberg knows intimately, having founded the Electronic Literature Organization in 1999, an organization now global and multilingual. “In spite of the short life span of many works of electronic literature,” Rettberg notes, “genres of electronic literature don’t die, nor do they fade away. It is more appropriate to consider how genres and forms . . . serve as building blocks for other forms that follow them” (201).

One implication of Rettberg’s comment on genre is that the traditional literary standard for canonicity is imbued with the technopoetics of print as a durable technology. Amaranth Borsuk’s The Book (MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series: 2018) historicizes “the book” as a medial creation space whose capacities stretch beyond genre or canon in a well-scoped, -designed and -executed “pocket” book written in accessible language. Like Rettberg’s book, Borsuk’s is also ideal for classroom use. The book ushered forth a number of significant and enduring literary relations: between author and reader, author and publisher, publishers and readers. Borsuk grounds each chapter in book materiality; the first, “Book As Object” includes hand-drawn illustrations depicting the evolution of writing technologies. Chapter two, “Book as Content,” focuses on the book as “body,” an “intimate” space, and attends to the paratextual cues that have evolved over time and made the book a remarkably efficient random-access interface. (I like Borsuk’s clever demonstration of a pointing-finger manicule on p. 87). An avant-garde poet herself, Borsuk’s chapter on “The Book as Idea” distills how artists’ books depart from the book-as-commodity. The book is a surprisingly stable category given the bold experiments with book size and today’s multiplication of commodity formats. “Amazon offers us the same ‘book’ in paperback or Kindle edition, at slightly differing prices . . . . When books become content to be marketed and sold in this way, the historic relationship between materiality and text is severed” (112). Borsuk tours through artists’ books by William Blake, Stéphane Mallarmé, Ed Ruscha, Ulises Carrión, “theatrical” bookmakers like Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, and Bob Brown’s “Readies.” Her personal fascination with computational book arts manifests in this chapter’s extended rumination on moveable books of all sorts: the recombinant poetics of Queneau; CYOA books, flipbooks and unbound books; and “ephemeral” books, such as Marcel Duchamp’s wedding present to his sister, a geometry textbook to be suspended by strings from a balcony during their honeymoon in Buenos Aires, “where the elements would gradually wear away at it” (185). Borsuk’s emphasis on book materiality moves discussion of “the book” away from well-worn notions of books as “a space of fixity, certainty and order” (194) and springs the radical potential, in the digital era, inherent in a stable publication format. Borsuk’s untaming of the “book” is evident in both grand and quotidian gestures, such as noting the Renaissance readers who used the book as a storage system: “pressing flowers, copying recipes, keeping photographs, compiling clippings”—personalizations that persist today. “Defining the book involves consideration for its use as much as its form,” Borsuk argues. “Our changing idea of the book is co-constitutive of its changing structure” (195).

What are the definitional implications of books’ changing structures? Katarzyna Bazarnik’s Liberature: a Book-bound Genre (Jagiellonian University Press: 2016; Columbia University Press distribution 2018) culminates two decades of work as both book arts practitioner and theorist. The “b” in liberature draws attention to the book’s active role in co-producing literary meaning with readers: print-bound technotexts. Popular versions of liberature in English include Danieleweski’s House of Leaves, Johnson’s The Unfortunates and the amusing graphical oddities of Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. The preëminent Polish liberatic author, poet Zenon Fafjer, launched his career with the liberatic poem Oka-leczenie [“Mute-Eye-late;” “healing/hurting of the eye]” (2000, co-authored with Bazarnik); and his 1999 manifesto “Liberature: Appendix to the Dictionary of Literary Terms.” The manifesto sparked a literary movement that Barzarnik’s book classifies as a genre. In Liberature: a Book-bound Genre, Bazarnik tests generic parameters, taking up phenomenology debates of mid- and late-twentieth century about how sequential space supports reader decoding, and more recent scholarship of genre that examines why generic boundaries are unstable but still useful. Bazarnik defines liberature as “spatialized, multicoded writing inextricably bound up with the material form of the book” (46). Bazarnik’s focus on physically playful books pivots on spatial metaphors: book as “meaningful space,” “navigating device,” “buildings” and “bodies.” These spaces are made meaningful by the creative ways they require people to read (in sections on book as “event” and “performative space”).

Bazarnik’s definitional work in parts one and two sets up the final section on “The Question of Genre.” This one challenges fundamental principles of e-literature scholarship because, as Rettberg’s book and many others make clear, technotexts’ generic parameters can be vanishing points. Bazarnik defends the value of genre as “an important analytic instrument” (110) of technotexts because genre is a common “frame of reference” that rewards efforts to “modify regulatory conventions in the literary field” (117). In her survey of genre’s theoretical contexts, Bazarnik finds common ground by yoking genre to readerly performance, a “repeated verbal behavior that is meaningful in social situations . . . a way of doing things in the world” (168). This relational, contextual definition of genre makes good sense, and does battle with strict enforcement of generic markers that invalidate liberature as “too liberal to be functional in any serious sense” of literary classification (21). One can finish reading Liberature: a Book-bound Genre and wonder why genre is a noun, a thing, as opposed to an adjective: liberatic qualities of engagement. Agnieszka Przybyszewska proposes grading a technotext’s playable properties as varying degrees of liberatic encounter, as do other scholars. Bazarnik’s turn to interactive reading validates liberature as genre, refurbishing genre for an age when reading is interactively heterogenous.  

If Bazarnik aims to situate liberature using existing generic tools, Reading Project: a Collaborative Analysis of William Poundstone’s Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit} (University of Iowa Press: 2015) underscores the limitations of strict classification in parsing even one e-literary work. Collaborative authors Jessica Pressman, Mark C. Marino and Jeremy Douglass braid together media archeology, critical code studies and visualization as they exfoliate William Poundstone’s Project for Tachistoscope {Bottomless Pit} (2005). Attribution matters in Project, but the authorial divisions are deliberately, productively messy. Identifying who wrote what discloses the edges of expertise and allows readers to chart the progress of the authors’ mutual influence. Writing very much for each other, such openness requires emotional “vulnerability” (140) as discoveries “reroute individual interpretive efforts and [lead] to group epiphanies” (138).

The result is a suspenseful book of literary criticism. Chapter one teaches the reader how to read media archeology, visualization and Flash. Chapter two excavates the tachistoscope as a media instrument and Flash as an authoring tool. In chapter three, Douglass’s “core samples,” volumetric readings of Project’s screen output, segue into readings of the “optical unconscious” and the “detritus” of Poundstone’s code, a materialist reading of authorial intention where .fla files [production files] are an “archive of writerly process and intention” (79). Chapter four, “Subliminal Spam,” is the analytic pièce de résistance where the critical limitations of any one vantage on Project dramatically play out then give way to a satisfying synthesis. “I had been foolish to rely too much on my eyes,” Douglass confesses. “Project’s fixed sequence of words had been flickering by me the whole time, disappearing behind video frames and hiding in low contrast black-on-black changes. On reflection, I realized that [his and Mark’s] conflicting viewpoints lead to greater understanding” (97) because the results were neither random, nor fixed, but both: an insight that siloed expertise would not have yielded. Reading Project: A Collaborative Analysis shows that “collaboration is not just a trendy practice but a powerful sea change in academic knowledge work” (140).

In The Metainterface – The Art of Platforms, Cities and Clouds, Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold track what it means that “today’s cultural interfaces disappear by blending immaculately into the environment” (10) and propose net art and e-literature as materially self-conscious practices that reveal “fissures” in “habitual” (159) ubiquitous computing. What is the “metainterface’? It’s the movement of human/computer interaction from the desktop to the smartphone and cloud. Humans are both agents and quarry, where they use smartphones to electively inscribe themselves on the network, but also shed enormous quantities of data harvested by media companies such as Facebook and Google. For Andersen and Pold, e-literature resists the mostly invisible ways interfaces manage us. Chapter one renovates Benjamin’s theory of art’s “tendency” to reveal “fissures” in the smooth surfaces of technical revolution (24). Resetting Benjamin’s “The Author as Producer” essay in our contemporary media ecosystem, where shifts in the culture industry preview the broad shifts from owning to licensing, sharing and leasing, we see loss of of ownership as also a loss of the vernacular web, and the privacy it fostered. Chapters two, three and four canvas a range of metainterface manifestations: cloud-based computing as a “grammar” of interface aesthetics and algorithms that anticipate behavior (chapter two); the ongoing “territorialization” of the urban landscape (chapter three); cloud interfaces touching everything (general) everywhere (global).

Fissures made visible by art call attention to the evitability, the choices, that undergird our engagement with technical architecture. Metainterface highlights many art interventions that make labor and production visible in examples such as Super Mario Clouds (Arcangel, 2002), Summer (Olialina, 2013), Toxi*City (Coover and Rettberg, 2014) and SNOW (Shelley Jackson, 2014-present), among others. Metainterface also surveys how a database art can intervene in the war on terror or climate change by using “interface tactics” for reading (172, emphasis in original). A final chapter on “Interface Criticism By Design” teases out how self-conscious interface design shuttles between use and context. Articulated in case studies of the Poetry Machine (Anderson, Pold and others 2012-present), and A Peer Reviewed Journal About ___ (Cox, Anderson and hundreds of participants, 2011-present), this final chapter shows the radical potential of mindful interface design as an intervention in the black boxes and hidden processes that characterize corporate-owned metainterface materialities.


#ELRBOOKS: Book reviews by Alan Bigelow

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In the last six years the ELR has published different formats of interviews from the actual reviews of works of electronic literature, featured interviews published in other web sites, promotional interviews for events and a series centered on a specific topic like digital publishing.

To shift the attention from the digital context and to focus on print literature instead, the ELR has created a new series entirely dedicated to print literature called #ELRBOOKS.

Many scholars of the e-literature community have participated in a survey about their personal favourite books which deal with topics related to electronic literature or more in general to digital culture and cyber culture, but also print literature that feature characteristics of works of electronic literature namely hypertextual structure, multilinear plot, multiple authors or interactivity. Moreover, the series also includes theoretical books considered important, emblematic and innovative that they would suggest to somebody who is new to electronic literature.

The series #ELRBOOKS aims to show the links between print literature and electronic literature and the continuation of some literary features of print literature in electronic literature.

The ELR is happy to start the book reviews with Alan Bigelow, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Medaille College, Buffalo, NY USA. In his review Bigelow includes works of different literature genres and with different writing styles in a concise way. Interestingly, as Bigelow suggests, conciseness can also be regarded as an important literary feature.

Good read!

Alan Bigelow: Five books that I consider important, emblematic, and innovative and would suggest to somebody who is interested in writing their own creative work in electronic literature:

BOOK#1: Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy This is a book I not only loved while I was reading it the first time (the year after graduating from college), but later, when I began to write elit. Sterne’s experiments with images, layout of text on the page, and his overall ability to change course and suddenly do the most unexpected is what, to a large degree, informs my practice today.

If you are new to writing your own creative work in electronic literature, read this book first and then ask yourself, “Does anyone in elit today do anything more experimental than what Sterne did three hundred years ago?”

If your answer is no, then you are that much closer to recognizing how the forms we use to tell our stories have been invented before. The only difference is that technology allows us to put those forms into new practice.

BOOK#2: James Joyce, Ulysses (and other works)

I was confounded by Ulysses in college: entranced by its meta-language and intensive details but somewhat overwhelmed by the vast human landscape Joyce portrays. He was a premier experimentalist, and my shock of awakening at what he could do as a writer–with his incredible vocabulary, insights into the human condition, character portrayal, and textual pyrotechnics—reverberates with me to this day.

If you are new to writing your own creative work in electronic literature, consider any of Joyce’s works. They can still teach us how to construct a story.  

BOOK#3: Samuel Beckett (any of his works)

In some ways, Samuel Beckett taught me how to write. There is nothing extraneous in his work; every page, paragraph, sentence, word, and punctuation mark has a purpose, and nothing is wasted. His conciseness and conservation of language, where everything has its place and words are always aware of their own limitations, taught me about the compression and efficiency of language that is so necessary for writing on the web.

Beckett was writing for the web before the web was invented.

BOOK#4: Sam Shepard (any of the plays he wrote)

Sam Shepard was a multimedia artist for the stage. He knew how to interpret and portray character and plot through not just dialog but lighting, audio, projections, props, and scenery. He was a master of theatrical multimedia, and he took his generation to the edge of new media before “new media” was born.

If you are new to writing your own creative work in electronic literature, and want to see how multimedia can effect space (3D or virtual), Shepard might be of some use.

BOOK#5: comics (any)

If you are new to writing your own creative work in electronic literature, look at some comics. They could be the old-fashioned kind in magazines, or graphic novels, or online anime, or TV animations, but they all have something to offer.

Mostly, it’s a conciseness of language and a recognition that text is just one part of a story (the other parts being image and, more recently, audio, video, animation, and so on), and that conciseness of language absolutely requires us to compress language and make it more efficient, to say more with less. How writers use the physical or virtual spaceof comics is instructive to writers on the web.

It’s also the pure energy of plots as they appear in so many comics. The plot is usual simple, with limited characters and straight forward complications, but the plot usually captures us with the need to find out what happens next, to get to the end. Simple as the plot may be, or because it is so simple, we must finish the story.

If you can say this as a writer, that when reading your work, your audience feels an irresistible urge to read it all the way to the end… Congratulations. That is probably the highest compliment any reader could offer.

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November 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

Interview with Reham Hosny

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What do Scheherazade, a Persian mathematician and the Rochester Institute of Technology have in common? Electronic literature!

The Arabic culture has contributed in many different ways to the history of electronic literature and there are many works of Arabic electronic literature. The ELR has interviewed Reham Hosny, the director of the Arabic Electronic Literature research group which aims to the creation of a network of Arabic authors and scholars and the promotion of Arabic electronic literature.


ELR: Reham Hosny you are a member of the Arabic Electronic Literature research group. How did you get involved with electronic literature and what is your role in the research group?

Reham Hosny: Well, it just so happened that I started working with Sandy Baldwin at WVU and then RIT in my Ph.D. project, which focused on digital poetics in the Arabic and Anglo-American contexts. I am lucky to be the first Arab scholar to study e-lit internationally with a prominent professor like prof. Baldwin who has become my role model and mentor. By the time, I have participated in many conferences focusing on the development and pedagogy of e-lit and proposing new perspectives on e-lit such as my newly presented concept of Cosmo-Literature.

This start opened many avenues for joint projects in the field; an important one of them is Arabic Electronic Literature (AEL) network. It is the first project of its kind ever that is interested in globalizing Arabic e-lit and putting it on the world map of the field. Prof. Baldwin and myself noticed that the Arabic e-lit and the Arab e-lit authors are not represented in the world e-lit scene. Much of the digital poetics is drawn from a small range of Anglo-American texts and critics. To get a broader understanding of the field, we should reflect upon different perspectives on e-lit from different parts of the world. We felt that it’s the time to shift the world e-lit community interest from the western e-lit to e-lit in other parts of the globe such as the Arabic e-lit as well as propose new concepts and ideas on e-lit derived from the Arabic culture specificities.

In September, 2015, we launched arabicelit website with many goals in mind: Firstly, uploading the data of Arabic e-lit writers and their works upon the world databases of ELMCIP to be available for researchers. To do that, we created connections and networks with all the Arabs interested in e-lit. The first stage was completed by uploading the personal data of Arabic e-lit writers. The second stage will include uploading data about their creative works. Secondly, considering holding a conference on Arabic e-lit at RIT Dubai in Feb. 2018. There might be a follow-up conference that will take place a year later at the RIT-Rochester campus. Thirdly, creating academic programs and workshops, publishing research papers on Arabic e-lit works and making comparisons with the world e-lit works to define the place of Arabic e-lit on the world map of e-lit. We will deliver the first of these workshops in the Dubai conference. Moreover, some research papers in English have come out recently addressing Arabic e-lit aesthetics.

Our efforts in the field have already started paying off. For the first time, the Arabic e-lit community was represented on a world interactive map designed by Scott Rettberg depending on the data that we uploaded on ELMCIP. The Arabic e-lit is more recognized now in the world e-lit community than before.

ELR: You participated in the ELO Conference 2017 which took place last July in Portugal with a paper entitled “Roots and Shoots: History and Development of Arabic Electronic Literature”. The Arabic culture has an important influence in the electronic literature. The word algorithm, for instance, derives from its inventor Al-Khwarizmi, a Persian mathematician and also the literary work “1001 Nights” is often quoted as an early example of hypertextual work of literature. What is your point of view on this matter?

Reham Hosny: The Arabic culture is one of the richest cultures that has its effect on different literary and scientific fields. The Arabic language is the official language of 22 countries and one of the most spoken languages around the world. The Arabic calligraphy undergone many changes to arrive at its present shape with three components: The plain unpointed letters, a pointing system above or under some letters to differentiate them from other similar letters which is called “i’jam”, and supplementary diacritics that control pronunciation which are called “tashkil”. These three components of the Arabic calligraphy along with its writing from right to left in a cursive way make it a visual language that can be used in decoration and artistic works.  

In “Roots and Shoots: History and Development of Arabic Electronic Literature”, I addressed the printed genealogies of Arabic e-lit. The reason behind my interest in following these precursors is the fact that “innovative e-poetry will continue to exist in relation to innovative print poetry” as Glazier believes.  

“Alf  Layla wa-Layla” (“One Thousand and One Nights”) which is considered a canonical text in the Arabic cultural heritage since the heydays of the Islamic civilization represents, with its succession of linked stories, a hypertextual precursor to e-lit. The concrete and visual poetry of the Andalusian age in the Twelfth century and the Mamluk and Ottoman ages after that represent rich precursors of e-lit. Moreover, the experimental modern Arabic poetry has many examples that could be considered precursors to Arabic e-lit.

ELR: The Manifesto of Arabic Electronic Literature reads that the community intends to look beyond the hegemony of English language. One interesting development in this respect concerns the creation of a programming language in Arabic as we can see in the code work of Ramsey Nasser and also in the work of the Quwaiti company Sakhr Computers that arabised the programming languages BASIC and LOGO back in the 1980s. What is your opinion about the development of an Arabic code language?

Reham Hosny: Unlike the languages that change every century, the Arabic language is consistent and rich language to the extent that texts from 1400 years back are still readable and understandable. The English language is the dominant language of programming; however, there are some infamous Arabic programming languages. One of the objects of AEL is to create a network and connections among Arab e-lit writers and programmers for future joint collaboration.

Qlb by Ramsey Nasser is an artistic piece that mocks the hegemony of English language in programming to show how biased the field of computer science is. This ambitious work is a good step upon the way of developing programming in languages other than English.

Sakhr is the first leading software company in the Middle East that depends on the Arabic language as its main medium. It has played a great role since 1980s in Arabizing some programming languages, manufacturing computers, and providing different kinds of Arabic language-based software.

I believe that one day, an Arabic code language will be developed to provide many potentials and privileges to the computer science field.

ELR: Another point of the Manifesto is that the community of the Arabic Electronic Literature wishes to expand its field of work and influence. In 2018 the city of Dubai hosts the first conference dedicated to Arabic Electronic Literature. Could you tell us more about the event?

Reham Hosny: As I stated before, holding an international conference on Arabic e-lit is one of the AEL project goals. The conference will be hold on Feb. 25-27, 2018. We already launched a CFP and received many submissions from all over the world in Arabic and English on the topic of Arabic e-lit. The prominent digital critic Kate Hayles will be the keynote speaker of the conference as well as the Moroccan critic Zohor Gouram. We also organized a meeting with many Arab and international scholars in March, 2017, at RIT Dubai to figure out the details and logistics of the conference.

The first workshop of its kind in the Arab World will be delivered at the conference to highlight the digital tools used in creating e-lit and featuring new e-lit genres that are not famous in the Arab World. Additionally, a digital cultural project focusing on the theme of Dubai and Arabic heritage will be coincided with the conference in collaboration with RIT New York and RIT-Dubai. It is supposed that a model of the project will be presented at the conference and Expo 2020 after that. The scientific and organizing committees of the conference include renowned international and Arab scholars. The conference is organized by RIT, New York, hosted by RIT, Dubai, and sponsored by many great foundations like ELO.

ELR: What do you foresee or wish for the future of Arabic literature?

Reham Hosny: The field of Arabic e-lit still needs many sincere efforts to explore its potentials and specificities. We need much collaboration with the world e-lit community to get more experiences on the ways of employing digital media in literature. We also need to close the digital divide in the Arabic e-lit community to compete internationally by training young writers how to use advanced software in writing. A lot of attention should be paid to the Arabic e-lit pedagogy because teaching e-lit in Arabic universities will guarantee its development and circulation. Most Significantly, we are in a bad need of adopting an archiving project because software like Flash is no longer in use that is why some Arabic e-lit pieces were lost.

I dream of Arabic electronic literature that helps rediscover the potentials of the Arabic culture and to be represented and appreciated internationally . AEL is a leading initiative in this vein and our future hope is to get more support to complete achieving its message and join the great project CELL as a partner.

#ELRPROMO: “Other Codes / Cóid Eile: Digital Literature in Context”

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In a few days the event “Other Codes / Cóid Eile: Digital Literature in Context” will take place in the Irish city of Galway. The organizer Anne Sofia Karhio, a researcher in the field of electronic literature, accepted the invitation to participate in an interview to promote the event.

This is the first #ELRPROMO, a new topic in the blog that aims to the announcement of forthcoming events in the field of electronic literature.

ELR: Anne Sofia Karhio you are a researcher in the field of electronic literature. When did you start studying electronic literature and what are your main research interests in this field?

Anne Sofia Karhio: I have, like many others working on electronic literature, been trained in more traditional literary scholarship. I studied comparative literature at the University of Helsinki, and then English literature at Trinity College Dublin and finally at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where I got my doctorate and where I’m still based.  I’m not sure whether “traditional” is exactly the right word here, though, as I was always drawn to the more quirky or experimental. My initial interest in electronic literature was also a result of that: I simply became curious about what happens when words move from page to the digital domain, all the strange shapes and forms they can take, and what this means for how we understand language and literary expression. It was only after my PhD that I really started looking into digital literature, and I have to admit that it has been quite a learning experience, though a really rewarding one.

My postdoctoral research project, co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the European Commission via Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, took me to the University of Bergen to work with Scott Rettberg, Jill Walker-Rettberg and other researchers in electronic literature and digital culture there. It is difficult to explain how life changing that experience was – the research community in Bergen is quite amazing, and really welcoming for newcomers. Due to the Bergen connection I have also been lucky to be able to connect with many well-known scholars, authors and artists, some of whom have since visited Galway – these include Scott Rettberg, Rod Coover, Maria Engberg, Jason Nelson, and Alinta Krauth.

My current research focuses on poetry, technology and landscape, and I’m therefore particularly interested in the shifting border between verbal and visual expression in all kinds of multimodal environments. My research has been largely focused on form, aesthetics, and close reading and analysis, and there has been less of that practical or creative input that characterizes the work of so many scholars of electronic literature. At the same time, practice has started infiltrating my research in all kinds of small and perhaps unexpected ways – like trying out augmented reality apps to explore how these technologies frame the visual environment, and so forth.

ELR: What is your approach to electronic literature? Do you see electronic literature as experimental literature? Do you make a comparative study with other artistic practices?

Anne Sofia Karhio: I have no background in IT or programming, so I have had to learn a lot of things from scratch just to get beyond the level of surface aesthetics of many works. I also continue to work on print poetry as well as digital literature, and want to consider questions of landscape, for example, thematically as well as through the technological platforms and practices. To jump to the last part of that question first, the concept of landscape has its historical roots in the visual arts, so this is a constant point of reference. Overall, I guess it is safe to say that the borders between art forms are currently in turmoil, which means that cinematic expression, music and sound, and all kinds of embodied and haptic technologies are also increasingly relevant. It can be a little bit of a balancing act, sometimes, to retain an openness to these developments, and still keep a focus on the specific topic of one’s research. But I suppose as a researcher I’m most comfortable in inhabiting that transition zone, historically as well as aesthetically. For me, the new digital homes for literature were never a sign that literature would be discarding print to embrace the digital; rather, there is a range of transformative exchanges between these two domains.

It is hardly controversial to say that experimentation often characterizes electronic literature, not least because of the relative novelty of the medium. Many dislike the term “new media”, as computer technologies as well as electronic literature have been around for decades. I speak of “new media technologies” in my own research, but more in the sense of technologies that are new, rather than New Media as shorthand for late 20th-early 21st century digital technologies. This also allows for a historical perspective: I’m quite interested in the work of poets who relate the current historical moment to how writers and artists engaged with the technological changes in the Victorian era, for example – the “new media” of that period. The Northern Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey is a wonderful example of that.

I suppose that like any other art form, electronic literature can be conventional or experimental, depending on whether it repeats pre-existing forms and practices, or finds new ways of challenging them. But one does encounter particularly many practitioners who are drawn to the idea of testing new methods of creativity and dissemination. There is more than a hint of that eccentric scientist mentality, and of course the question is how patience with scholarship and aesthetic craft relate to the fascination of the “new”. And then there is the issue of aesthetic and artistic communities, and the national and cultural institutions that foster them (or fail to do so). Experimentation and artistic license are not part of the culture in quite the same way in different countries. Ireland, for example, has produced pretty revolutionary experimental writers, like Beckett and Joyce – but they did their experimentation elsewhere, for reasons that relate to the culture and society here. Experimental literary communities may have found it more challenging to prosper in Ireland, for various reasons, though there are individual scholars and practitioners who are testing new platforms here, too, like Jeneen Naji in Maynooth, the electronic literature author Michael J. Maguire, or James O’Sullivan who runs New Binary Press. Not to even mention quite a few younger researchers that are curious about the field.

ELR: In 2015 you co-organized the ELO2015 Conference “The End(s) of Electronic Literature” and co-edited the Conference Program and Festival Catalog. What are in your opinion some of the most important outcomes of that event?

Anne Sofia Karhio: The ELO2015 conference was quite an overwhelming experience, partially due to the sheer number of proposed papers and art works. The diversity of the material covered in the catalog, for example, makes it quite difficult to make any kind of a generalizing statement on the conference contributions thematically or even technologically. But the conference topic or title, “End(s) of Electronic Literature”, does suggest a certain coming of age of the field, I think, though perhaps those who have been a part of the organization longer might be better equipped to evaluate that. I believe there were varying opinions on that title, and whether it reflected some kind of pessimism regarding the future of electronic literature, e-lit being “done”. But more than that, I’d say it reflected a historical moment of a kind of coming of age – now that electronic literature has been practiced for decades, and has more institutional recognition, there is also a need to reflect on its purpose, its changing forms, and perhaps even its key concepts in a way that may not have been similarly possible before. What the ELO2015 conference certainly highlighted for me was that the sheer variety of what is now covered under the term “electronic literature” is such that it raises all kinds of questions, mostly very interesting ones, on what we understand even by the term “literature” in a wider sense. The question is far from new, but we can now approach it from new perspectives.

ELR: From 11-12 May 2017 the conference “Other Codes / Cóid Eile: Digital Literature in Context” will take place. What will be the topics discussed on this occasion?

Anne Sofia Karhio: I spent quite a long time trying to find the right phrasing for the title of the conference. The term “context” is not entirely groundbreaking, of course, but here it partially stems from this sense that formal, aesthetic and technological questions still overshadow an awareness of that extra-literary (or extra-artistic) terrain from which electronic literature, too, emerges. It is interesting – and sometimes slightly frustrating – to see how the old debate regarding formalism and aesthetics versus cultural identity or context still keeps repeating itself, even in the field of electronic literature. But I’d like to go beyond that and seriously consider how literature in the digital domain can offer a new aesthetics for social critique, how new technologies make it possible to examine the more sinister aspects of the new digital society from within in the context of globalization, for example, and how questions of linguistic difference now also assume a new relevance. The bilingual title of the conference, “other codes” as well as the Irish language “cóid eile”, is not there just for a bit of exotic cultural flavor! I’d like to think that the approaches of the invited speakers that we will hear from at this event reflect the variety of ways in which “context” can be understood: Sandy Baldwin, Jessica Pressman, María Mencía and Scott Rettberg have all engaged with it differently, like looking at non-Western electronic literatures and global issues, questions of gender and sexuality, precedents in literary movements in the 20th century, multimodal art practices, and aesthetic communities or new genres.

ELR: What do you hope or foresee for the future of electronic literature?

Anne Sofia Karhio: I think as humanities scholars we are naturally equipped to defend the importance of art and literature and have a sense of how they shape the human experience, and how they profoundly interrogate our relationship with the non-verbal as well as the non-human domain. But the more I learn about how digital media technologies impact on our environment, and how their connections to all kinds of questions of economic and political power, surveillance and control work, the more convinced I am that literary scholars and practitioners, as well as digital artists in other fields, have a huge responsibility to make visible (sometimes literally!) what these technologies do what they are used for, and what possibilities of expression, agency, or resistance they give us. Digital arts and humanities are too often understood merely as applying new technologies to humanities research on established forms of cultural expression. This might sound a little bit bombastic or lofty, but I think if we are at all worthy of calling ourselves humanities scholars, we also have to do the opposite (and this is what so many practitioners of electronic literature already do): we must apply the rigor and critical force of humanities creativity and scholarship to all aspects of the digital. Too much is at stake for us to leave the digital for the engineers alone. The old joke applies: science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur – humanities can tell you whether it might be a good or a bad idea!


Interview with Judy Malloy

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ELR: Judy Malloy, you have engaged in three decades of creative work in the field of electronic literature, beginning with the publication of “Uncle Roger” in 1986. What in your opinion are the most significant moments in the history of electronic literature thus far?

Judy Malloy: This is a welcome question. The long and rich history of electronic literature in toto is what is most significant. But there are so many significant moments that I can only mention a few — and even then, it is perhaps a longer answer than expected. Another day the list might be somewhat different. Today this is what I am recollecting:

To begin with: significant computational processes in word structures can be traced from Wibold, Archdeacon of Noyon’s 10th century dice-mediated Ludus Regularis, to the circa 15th century dice-generated collaborative narrative of vice and virtue, Chaunce of the Dyse, to formative computer-mediated work in the 1950’s –- including the generative love letters that Lytton Strachey’s nephew, Bloomsbury-bred computer programmer Christopher Strachey, created using Alan Turing’s hardwired random number generator, as well as the work of Stuttgart computer scientist student, Theo Lutz, who entered words from The Castle into a program that generated politically-charged remixes of Kafka’s vocabulary.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a map of significant moments, in France would probably pinpoint the founding of Oulipo, Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes, and George Perec’s Die Maschine, among many others. Pierre Boulez’ Troisième sonate pour piano Formant 3: “Constellation — Miroir” would surely appear on this map, as would – experiments with the cutup method in the work of Bryan Gysin, Williams Burroughs and Burroughs’ partner, computer programmer Ian Sommerville.

Meanwhile in New York City, after composer James Tenney gave a workshop on FORTRAN to Fluxus artists in 1967, Alison Knowles wrote the brilliant generative poem A House of Dust (realized by Tenney), and Dick Higgins created and programmed the edgy Hank and Mary, a Love Story, a Chorale.  Additionally, the lists of words that Fluxus poet Emmett Williams chose for IBM, first created without a computer in 1956, were computerized in this time.

And in Massachusetts BBN (ARPANET contractor Bolt, Beranek and Newman) computer programmer Will Crowther wrote the pioneering Interactive Fiction, Adventure, and then at MIT Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling created Zork and went on to found Infocom, the primary source of classic Interactive Fiction — while in Connecticut, at Yale, Joseph Meehan created Tale-Spin.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, based in Canada with strong roots also in Austria, IPSA (I. P. Sharp Associates) and IPSA’s ARTEX made node-to-node communication possible — we called it “telematics” in those days — hosting collaborative works such as Bill Bartlett’s Interplay and Roy Ascott’s La Plissure du Texte.

Beginning in 1986 in Berkeley, CA my own Uncle Roger, the first realized hyperfiction, was significant in that rather than a game-centered or communications approach, I wrote and programmed it as a work of computer-mediated literature, and it was the first realized work of electronic fiction that was both written and programmed by a woman.

There followed — beginning with Michael Joyce’s classic afternoon, a story and the work of the StorySpace team — a flowering of hypertext. The writers came from many different places; the center was the Massachusetts-based Eastgate Systems, headed by Mark Bernstein. Hypertext literature was central in what Robert Coover called the “golden age”. The four works Coover singled out are Joyce’s afternoon, my its name was Penelope, Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden, and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl.  It should also be noted that in the field of digital poetry, Jim Rosenberg’s spatial hypertext was primary in the pre-web era.

In the period of widening development (1995–2010), places on the map are clustered all over the world, as works of potential significance were created in generative poetry (the work of John-Pierre Balpe and Nick Montfort, Fox Harrell’s GRIOT System, Nanette Wylde’s Storyland, for instance); in Interactive Fiction: (Emily Short’s Bronze, Andrew Plotkins’ Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home);  in hypertext (my The Roar of Destiny, Mark Marino’s a show of hands, Sharif Ezzat’s Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky, Deena Larsen’s Marble Springs Wiki); in electronic manuscripts: (Noah Wardrip Fruin et al’s Screen; J. R. Carpenter’s Entre Ville); in concrete and digital poetry (William Harris’ Armistice, Maria Mencia’s Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs); and in performative, filmic, and collaborative works. (Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar’s Cruising; Judd Morrissey’s The Last Performance). There were many others.

I am disinclined to mention works from 2011-  because the dust has not yet settled, but for my own work I like From Ireland with Letters and my generative “the whole room like a picture in a dream”: Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf Writing“.

ELR: In another interview you name four authors of print literature as influences on your works of electronic literature: Italo Calvino, Marcel Proust, Dorothy Richardson, and Laurence Sterne. Can you comment on analogies and differences between electronic and print literature?

Judy Malloy: This is a difficult question, and the answer can be framed in many different ways. Primarily electronic literature is work that utilizes computer-mediation to create literature that is only possible to read on a computer. But the boundaries are becoming somewhat blurred. Many of the strategies developed by writers of electronic literature can influence print literature and even in some cases have been utilized in print, while at the same time we see writers of electronic literature incorporating print components in their work.

I have always believed that print literature is such a powerful interface that it will continue, but that electronic literature is equally powerful and will flourish and run side by side with print literature, so to speak. In the 21st century, the fact that electronic literature and print literature are each influencing each other is greatly enriching both fields!

ELR: In August 2016 you edited “Social Media Archeology and Poetics” a book featuring essays of 28 artists, scholars, and curators who describe computer networks and online platforms. What are your current opinions/thoughts about archiving works of electronic literature and digital art?

Judy Malloy: Social Media Archeology and Poetics is media archeology about how social media platforms with cultural components were developed and flourished in the days before the World Wide Web.

To create Social Media Archeology and Poetics, which was three years in the making, I primarily asked pioneers in the field to write about their work. This is different from archiving works of electronic literature and digital art. However, it does dovetail with my vision, which is that in addition to the work of critics and curators, it is important to make early works themselves accessible and also to encourage creators of electronic literature to document their own work. In this respect, we are in the tradition of conceptual art and performance art, and — in this field that lies between computer science and literature —  we also document electronic literature in the tradition of sci/tech researchers. It is vitally important to publish peer-reviewed first person documentation from the creators or researchers themselves. Thus, the primary source for Strachey’s love letters is Christopher Strachey, “The Thinking Machines,” Encounter, 3 (1954): 25-31. The primary source for Lutz’ work is Theo Lutz, “Stochastische Texte,” augenblick 4 (1959):3-9.  And the primary source for Uncle Roger is Judy Malloy, “Uncle Roger, an Online Narrabase”, in eds. Ascott, Roy and Carl Eugene Loeffler, Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications, Leonardo 24:2, (1991): 195-202. This does not mean that criticism and theory are not very important.

Contingently, as regards archiving works of electronic literature themselves, when the original platforms are not available, I prefer to translate my own works to contemporary platforms. But I also highly respect and appreciate the curators and archivists in our field, such as Dene Grigar, who have approached this in many creative ways.

ELR: In the year 2003 you edited the book “Women, Art & Technology” a compendium of the work of women artists who have played a central role in the development of new media practice. How do you consider the role of women in new media today?

Judy Malloy: As Jaishree Odin’s Hypertext and the Female Imaginary and Maria Mencia’s forthcoming #WomenTechLit clearly demonstrate, contemporary women artists and writers are equally as important and influential as male artists and writers.

ELR: Have you any thoughts about the future of Electronic Literature?

Judy Malloy: As the rich history of electronic literature begins to be acknowledged, and the field comes of age, it has been a pleasure to both work with students in the creation of electronic literature and to continue to develop my own work.

I look forward to new work from the field as a whole and to a more central place for electronic literature in the literary world.


Written by ELR

February 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Interview with Alan Bigelow

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Co-edited by Maíra Borges Wiese

ELR: Alan Bigelow on your website you have published your flash works from 1999-2011 and your HTML5 works published from 2011-2015. Could you tell us how you got started in the field of digital literature?

Bigelow: I got started in electronic literature for a very selfish reason: I owned the domain Cinema2.com, and I wanted to protect it from any corporation that might want it for themselves. This was in 1999, and the domain name craze was at its height, with names like Cinema.com selling for US $700,00 (I even called the sellers, Great Domains, during the auction for Cinema.com, and told them I had Cinema2.com and were they interested? A polite “no” was their answer). So I created a story based on the domain name. The story is about a moving company called Cinema2.com. They don’t physically move people from location to location, like a typical moving company does—instead, they emotionally move them to catharsis using unique and innovative practices. They even have special devices to test for emotional states and effect treatment. The piece was part HTML, part Flash, and it was my first introduction to electronic literature. But back then, I didn’t know it was called electronic literature. I thought I was doing something completely original and new to the internet. It was shortly after that I found other people doing the same thing online, and I realized there was already a community of writers doing what I was doing, and we had the whole web to talk to each other about it.

NOTE TO SELF: Hopefully, one day we won’t have to call it “electronic literature” anymore. What we do will be so commonplace as to be simply called “literature.”

ELR: Can you tell us where your inspiration comes from? My source of inspiration has changed over the years. Early on, in addition to the basic elements of traditional fiction like plot and character (which drove, for example, PamelaSmall.com, “Saving the Alphabet,” other earlier works), I was also driven by the thrill of exploration just to see where it would lead me next; the path was just as interesting as the story itself. Then the goal became (or was it always my goal?) to create a thing of beauty. I may have done this already, but I am not sure yet… Now my source of inspiration has come full circle to plot and character again. Despite the innovation of what we do, it seems that people still like a good story with a beginning, middle, and end (despite what order they are in). They also like a character who they recognize as themselves, someone they know, or someone they have never met before. A good character or plot can drive a story and give it enduring value. It also offers the reader what the French sometimes call attention: there may not be any pages to turn on the web, but a page turner can still keep a reader’s attention. Character and plot can move people, and in the attention-deficit world of the web, moving people with fiction is getting harder and harder to do. So it is back to basics for me. Perhaps this approach might help build a better bridge between the old and the new, from print readership to a readership expecting, and appreciating, multimedia stories on the web. Like the movers in Cinema2.com, my goal is to move people to catharsis. I am getting closer to that goal, I hope, with recent works like “Life of FLY” and “Protect the Poet.”

ELR: Is there a particular reason for the change from flash works to HTML5?

Bigelow: My reason for leaving Flash was simple: there was an iPhone in my pocket, and I could not see my own work on it. I resisted, though. I thought an app would come along to display Flash in a seamless and effortless way (there were some apps, but none were good). I emailed Steve Jobs about how Flash was great for creative work and an artistic tool unparalleled in the marketplace, but he never replied. (I understood—he was busy dying and had more important things on his mind). Finally, because it is adapt or die, I switched to HTML5. Thanks to a good coder I know who helps me with the difficult parts… Well, I have not looked back.

Has switching to HTML5 changed the way you write?

Yes. First, not having Flash as a tool has forced me to revise my approaches as to how readers navigate through the pieces. I have simplified the navigational interface in some newer pieces, and often made them more linear in user interaction. This is convenient because with my renewed interest in plot and character, a linear approach to navigation can be useful. Second, adapting to HTML5, and particularly mobile devices, has forced me to renegotiate with a story’s text as it appears on the screen. Only so much text can comfortably fit on the screen of a phone, so where I can condense, I condense. Where I can cut, all the better. Third, in HTML5, since visual effects are not yet as easy and seamless as they were in Flash, I find myself using visuals where they will do the most good to support theme or action. I try not to include any extraneous visual effects or non-essential coding. The story is primary, and every element supports that, and only that. If a visual or audio element does not have a specific reason for being there, it goes in the garbage heap. The final product must have an expressive and efficient synthesis of all its elements to create the overall effect.

ELR: Where do you see the main challenge in such a fast changing and variegated field like electronic literature?

Bigelow: Keeping pace.

ELR: In many of your works the topic is life as in “The Human Mystery” and “Last Words.”

Bigelow: If it’s not life, it’s death. And anything in between. As a writer, I am not unusual in this.

ELR: Is life (or death) one of your favourite topics? What other topics do you write about?  

Bigelow: Death is a preoccupation in my daily thoughts, rather than a major theme in my writing. I also write about (************************************************************* ******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************). NOTE TO SELF: Continue to vary the topics you cover in your work. It will stop you from being typecast and never working in Hollywood again.

ELR: Readers who are used to reading printed books may be surprised or even irritated and challenged by the audio-visual effects of works of electronic literature.

Bigelow: I am certain this is a temporary phenomenon. Children growing up now will have no problem with multimedia stories, because they are already reading them on their handheld devices. They are also reading and interacting with multimedia in virtually every aspect of their online life. I feel sorry for these kids when they get to college and some professor (like me, for instance) asks them to read stories from a print anthology. It is like they are taking one huge step back for humankind.  

ELR: How does multimedia change the aesthetics of literature?

Bigelow: Other writers about electronic literature have already addressed this question better than I can. In addition to the many individual articles that touch on this topic, two recent anthologies address this question in a variety of ways: The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (eds. Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson) and New Literary Hybrids in the Age of Multimedia Expression (ed. Marcel Cornis-Pope). However, as a writer, one thing I have learned from the aesthetics of digital literature is the importance of conserving words. Saying more with less is a unspoken mantra on the web, where there is so much competition for the reader’s attention. I have always been a spare writer, but elit has forced me to make every word count and to treasure the sentence over the paragraph, the short word over the long, and the period over the comma. One day, I may return to text-based writing just to see how I can apply the lessons about language, graphics, and audio that are at the core of my digital work. Going retro to push print forward might be an interesting game to play.

ELR: Your Ten Predictions about Digital Literature are rather optimistic.

Bigelow: That blog post was published on August 28, 2010. I was too optimistic in some places, but in general, I could probably find up-to-date examples to support each of the ten claims. In fact, I might do a follow-up blog just to make my point… J

ELR: What would you say about the present status of digital literature in academia?

Bigelow: I have mixed emotions about the current status of electronic literature in academia. On the one hand, it is truly great how so many new media and literature classes around the world have incorporated elit into their curricula. It is also terrific how many scholarly articles, books, presentations, panels, and conferences have emerged in the field. This indicates an extremely healthy life for electronic literature within academia, a life I am extremely thankful for both as a writer and a lover of elit. But I have misgivings. Any new artistic movement (and in many ways, elit is still new) needs an expanding culture to incubate in. It needs to grow new readership, encourage new writers, and create an economic platform so it is commercially viable. In other words, the general public must be involved somewhere in the early or middle stages of any artistic movement.

NOTE TO READER: For purposes of definition, I distinguish what we in academia generally understand as electronic literature versus how it is seen in the wider public arena. For us in academia (and of course, I do not speak for everyone!) electronic literature might be described as the more refined fiction and poetry you see in journals, festivals, on and off-line galleries, and in the course readings for many colleges and university classes. In the wider public arena, electronic literature is already a significant presence in social media like Facebook, blogs, and Instagram, although not typically identified by the name “electronic literature.” In these, and many other online venues, images and text—and in the case of Facebook, audio and video and text—are already a common occurrence in the telling of stories and daily events. If our brand of electronic literature remains predominantly in the world of academia, and stays relatively removed from the general public, its academic incarnations, for the most part, will remain alive, but our brand of electronic literature as a viable art form will atrophy. It will atrophy because despite all the great analyses, books, presentations, and conferences (not to mention the dynamic works of elit themselves)—all of this will fade from public memory because they were never in the larger public memory to begin with. The elit movement, as we know it, will have been stillborn into academia. But the risk is really only for writers like myself and others whose work is recognized within academia but not so much outside of it. We (and by “we” I mean all of us within the world of elit) need to have contact with a larger audience because there already is a larger audience for elit—they’re just not reading the same things we are. The larger audience is gaming their stories, tweeting their traumas, and plurking their pathos, all without ever hearing the phrase “electronic literature” or knowing that writers such as myself, and so many others, even exist. And if they do not know about our brand of elit, whose fault is that? For sure, the ELO, I ♥ E-Poetry, and other organizations and individuals have done much to bring our brand of elit to the public eye. Their good work continues, and they have our lasting thanks. We would be so much worse off without their help and hard work. But in the end, it has to be a group effort if we want electronic literature, as we know it, to survive us.

So here is my call to everyone involved in electronic literature: if you are not doing it already, get the word out. Write about and talk about and teach as many different types of elit as you can because the young writers-in-waiting, the ones who are aching to try something new, must have the full panoply of creative works to model from. They must not believe that elit is just randomly generated poems any more than elit is solely stories with traditional plots and characters. We have to share elit in all its iterations and all its platforms, even sharing pieces we do not like. If these students and others see that elit is wide open in terms of form, and has plenty of space for new practitioners… Maybe they, as the next generation of writers, can widen the circle of creative works and engage a larger audience.

NOTE TO SELF: PUT YOUR POETRY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS! Make sure in your next literature class that you demonstrate a wide variety of electronic literature for your students (even the pieces you hate, because some of the students might love them), and give them opportunities to explore more. Encourage the ones with even the slightest interest in elit to come to you if they would like suggestions for further readings, or tips on how they can create and publish their own electronic literature. Make sure they know there is help out there and plenty of publishing, gallery, and festival opportunities.

IMPORTANT! FINAL NOTE TO SELF: Once a month, identify and reach out to at least one writer outside of the known elit community who is writing elit but may not call it by that name. Congratulate them on their work, introduce them to the ELO, and encourage them to get involved with our organization. Do this at least once every month, and more, if possible.


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Reading Digital Fiction

We aim to introduce more readers to digital fiction and investigate digital fiction reading using cognitive and empirical approaches (funded by the AHRC).

Poesia Ú~ ///// Dia Inú~ ////

o primeiro poema a ser escrito que serve realmente para alguma coisa

Coeva, the novel

by TheCoevas: Musicians of Words / Strumentisti di Parole