Recent essays

Digital Ekphrasis and the Uncanny: Toward a Poetics of Augmented Reality


The aim of this little volume is, as far as may be, to translate into verse what the lines and colours of certain chosen pictures sing in themselves; to express not so much what these pictures are to the poet, but rather what poetry they objectively incarnate. Such an attempt demands patient, continuous sight as pure as the gazer can refine it of theory, fancies, or his mere subjective enjoyment. —Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), preface to Sight and Song, 1892

Debates in the Digital Humanities formerly known as Humanities Computing


In a review that addresses (and exposes) the founding myth of the “digital humanities” (DH), formerly known as “humanities computing,” Roberto Simanowski and Luciana Gattass measure just how much the 99 articles collected by Mathew Gold and Lauren Klein have overturned “academic life as we know it.”

The New, New, New Philology


In this review of Rethinking the New Medievalism, Matt Cohen ponders the significance of philology’s ongoing period of “reflection, […] refraction, and revisitation.” Against the backdrop of contemporary shifts in the humanities, more generally, Cohen sees opportunities for medievalists to intervene, bringing with them both clarity and innovation to fields in a state of fluctuation.

Aurature at the End(s) of Electronic Literature


Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now: How will our encounters with these intelligent personal assistants - robots we’ve invited into our homes to speak with and listen to us, who share this data with vectorialist institutions that monitor our networked transactions - alter both human language and our efforts to lead meaningful lives? In a wide-ranging, philosophical essay that exposes various myths of computation while presenting a candid assessment of the rapidly evolving culture of reading, poet John Cayley speculates that literature will be displaced by aurature. Listen up, readers: A major challenge in the programming era will be to develop linguistic aesthetic practices that intervene significantly and affectively in socio-ideological spaces thoroughly saturated with synthetic language that are largely controlled by commercial interests. The time for aesthetic experiments that disrupt the protocols of a still-nascent aurature is now.

Not a case of words: Textual Environments and Multimateriality in Between Page and Screen


In this essay, Ortega departs from Ulises Carrión’s notion of book as a “spatio-temporal entity” which goes beyond verbal language, in order to demonstrate how hybrid works (or “textual environments”) such as Amaranth Borsuk’s Between Page and Screen (2012) may create “new genres and material and poetic expressiveness.” By drawing on Rita Raley’s “TXTual practice,” Ortega also demonstrates how the “material dynamics” displayed by these works decisively contributes to the generation of meaning.

"The End"


Dunedin, home of the University of Otago, facing the Pacific on the southeast corner of the South Island of New Zealand, used to be far from everywhere - if not exactly the end of the world, then (as they say) you could it see from there. Nowadays, of course, it is as close to everywhere as anywhere else, and much closer than some places, wired into the world-wide web and served by online forums of intellectual life such as the ebr.

What [in the World] was Postmodernism? An Introduction


An Introduction to the gathering.

The Uses of Postmodernism


Jacob Edmond argues that while postmodernism might be useless as a theoretical concept or periodization, it nevertheless illuminates changes, both local and global, in the final decades of the twentieth century. Edmond analyzes the uses of postmodernism in the United States, New Zealand, Russia, and China. He shows how the various and even contradictory uses of the term postmodernism allowed it to represent both sides in the unfolding tension between globalization and localism in late twentieth-century culture.

Nominalisms Ancient and Modern: Samuel Beckett, the Pre/Post/Modernist?


While describing the work of Beckett as deeply influenced by nominalism, Holly Phillips explores “ineffable permutations of intellectual history” and demonstrates how medieval philosophy has deeply influenced twentieth century literature. Simultaneously, Phillips undermines the idea that nominalism’s dismantlement of universals has finally been accomplished by postmodernism.

"Not Going Where I Was Knowing": Time and Direction in the Postmodernism of Gertrude Stein and Caroline Bergvall


In an essay spanning modernist and postmodernist poetics, Lynley Edmeades demonstrates how postmodern poetry cultivates “present-ness” by drawing on Lyotard’s concept of “constancy,” Gertrude Stein’s notion of “continuous present” and Caroline Bergvall’s adherence to “non-linearity.”

The Historical Status of Postmodernism Under Neoliberalism


Simon During proposes to unravel the “layered” history of postmodernism in New Zealand. In so doing, the author of this essay treats postmodernism as “an event rather than a period” and describes postmodernism’s development in the epoch of neo-liberalism.

From Master(y) Narratives to Matter Narratives: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods


In an attempt to re-materialize postmodernism, Damien Gibson provides, by drawing on material ecocriticism and on the concept of “narrative agency,” a critical posthumanist reading of Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods.

What is Metamodernism and Why Bother? Meditations on Metamodernism as a Period Term and as a Mode


Alexandra Dumitrescu’s essay describes the development of metamodernism in New Zealand and presents metamodernism as an interrogation of “modernist uprootedness or postmodern drifting.”

Practicing Disappearance: A Postmodern Methodology


In this essay, Neil Vallelly answers the question “What is postmodernism?” by demonstrating how disappearance, as envisaged by Jean Baudrillard, “lies at the heart of postmodern theory.” Vallelly also argues for the critical value of postmodernism’s traces in contemporary literature and suggests the adoption of a “methodology that embraces disappearance.”

An Aesthetics of the Unsaid


Andrew Lindquist reviews Michael LeMahieu’s Fictions of Fact and Value, examining the influence of logical positivism on American literature of the postwar era.

Thinking With the Planet: a Review of The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the Twenty-First Century


Using recent events of planetary significance as a point of departure, Jeanette McVicker reviews The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Amy J. Elias and Christian Moraru.

A Riposte to Jeanette McVicker's Thinking With the Planet


In response to Jeanette McVicker’s review of The Planetary Turn, John Bruni examines what it means to theorize a sense of the planetary.

Processing Words, or Suspended Inscriptions Written with Light


In this review, Manuel Portela considers Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes in light of a “general computerization of the modes of production of writing.”

Old Questions from New Media


Jen Phillis situates Jessica Pressman’s Digital Modernism: Making It New in New Media as a rejoinder to “Neoliberal Tools (and Archives)” by David Allington, Sarah Brouillete, and David Golumbia.