Recent essays


Beginning with "The Image" in How It Is when translating certain processes of digital language art


In this essay, John Cayley builds upon a critical legacy that reflects intensively on the process of literature in an age of machine language. Building on a legacy that includes ebr classics like “The Code is not the Text” and many points in between, “Beginning with ‘The Image’” points to the difficulties of translating a procedural code-based text that “finds” its substance in the repository of text known as the World Wide Web.

Poetry and Stuff: A Review of #!


In this essay John Cayley reviews Nick Montfort’s #!, a book of computer generated poetry and the code that generated it. Exploring the triangle of Montfort’s programs, the machines that read them, and the output presented for human readers, Cayley situates the experience of reading and writing as intrinsically virtual, powered by its sustained potentiality, rather than its definitive comprehension.

Where do we find ourselves? A review of Herbrechter's "Critical Posthumanism"


In his review of Stefan Herbrechter’s Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis, John Bruni addresses the technoscientific and philosophical varieties of posthumanism, and considers the necessity of moving beyond the “dehumanizing” effects of technocentric theories of cultural evolution. This critical project seeks to preserve freedom and agency, rejecting a concept of posthumanism as a side-effect of innovation in favor of one that sees change itself arising from social processes.

Convergent Devices, Dissonant Genres: Tracking the “Future” of Electronic Literature on the iPad


Anastasia Salter’s “Convergent Devices, Dissonant Genres” assesses the implications of the iPad for the state of literature. Looking at “traditional” approaches that re-mediate print for digital devices, “enhanced” approaches which add “special features” to extant texts and forms, pre-tablet eliterature re-experienced in the new environment, and finally the creation of original apps with literary qualities, Salter’s work is a critical document of the impact a single interface can have on the development of literary culture in the 21st Century.

Futures of Electronic Literature


E-lit authors Stephanie Strickland and Marjorie Luesebrink organized a panel on the “Future of E–Lit” at the ELO 2012 conference, allowing emerging and early career authors to articulate institutional and economic, as well more familiar technological, developments that constrain and facilitate current practice. The panel papers were released in ebr in March 2014. Luesebrink and Strickland followed up with comments on the papers, offering a “progress report” on the future of the field. The individual responses are available as glosses on the essays and in full here.

Playing Mimesis: Engendering Understanding Via Experience of Social Discrimination with an Interactive Narrative Game


The authors discuss their effort to raise critical awareness about microaggressive racist behavior with Mimesis, an interactive game set in an underwater environment where players become sea creatures, and where they feel the social force of microaggression regardless of the their race or ethnicity.

Field Notes from the Future of Publishing


At the Frankfurt Book Fair, Ed Finn and his team attempted to “write, edit, and publish a book in three days.” In this essay, Finn explains the process, outcomes, and future considerations of that collaborative experiment in writing, reading, and publishing in parallel and as performance, in the same room at the same time, as he attempts to answer the question, “What is the future of publishing?”

I Read Because it is Absurd


Vanwesenbeeck situates Mark Taylor’s recent Rewiring the Real, within a growing body of critical literature (which also includes John McClure’s Partial Faiths and Amy Hungerford’s Postmodern Belief) that regards religion as key to a robust account of postmodern culture—and for Taylor, in particular, as key to appreciating the novels of William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo

Karl Steel’s How To Make A Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages


In one half of a pair of critical reviews looking at recent titles in animal studies, Nicole Shukin examines Karl Steel’s How to Make a Human (Steel reviews Shukin in the other half). In particular, Shukin discusses Steel’s framing of “the human” in terms of medieval violence, and she considers what that framing can offer to today’s political and ethical conversations.

Against Animal Authenticity, Against the Forced March of the Now: a review of Nicole Shukin’s Animal Capital


In one half of a pair of critical reviews looking at recent titles in animal studies, Karl Steel examines Nicole Shukin’s Animal Capital (Shukin reviews Steel in the other half). In particular, Steel looks at Shukin’s biopolitical framework, and considers how that framework challenges not only our conception of what constitutes the animal, but also–and more to the bone–our conception of the capacity of fields like animal studies.