Recent essays


Pasts and Futures of Netprov


In Pasts and Futures of Netprov, Rob Wittig articlates a theory for Networked Improv Narratives, or “Netprovs.” Wittig, an innovator in this novel form, situates netprov at the interesection of literature, drama, mass media, games, and new media. Transcribed from a presentation given at the Electronic Literature Organization conference in Morgantown, WV, Wittig explores a number of antecedents to the form, documents current exemplars of this practice, and invites readers to create their own networked improvisations.

Cave Gave Game: Subterranean Space as Videogame Place


Jerz and Thomas identify our fascination with natural cave spaces, and then chart that fascination as it descends into digital realms, all in order to illustrate the importance of “the cave” as a metaphor for how we interact with our environment.

#clusterMucks: Iterating synthetic-ecofeminisms


In the course of examining a number of key concepts in New Materialism, eco-criticism, and feminist philosophy, Melanie Doherty delves into Jamie Skye Bianco’s digitally generated “postnature writing.” Doherty’s rich knowledge of contemporary ecofeminist debates helps to contextualize Bianco’s hybrid performance-based works that draw upon a database of philosophical texts and landscapes, like the Salton Sea and Dead Horse Bay, that have been marred by histories of human misuse.

Towards Minor Literary Forms: Digital Literature and the Art of Failure


In this keynote address to the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, Illya Szilak highlights the power of “minor forms” in digital literature. Through a wide-ranging survey of works, Szilak identifies the tendency for “failure” in electronic literature as its most powerful feature: its capacity to deterritorialize the parameters of discourse and expand the potential of subjectivity in the process.

Sublime Latency and Viral Premediation


In Sublime Latency and Viral Premediation, Kim Knight addresses the “eco-poetics of the viral” across the biological, social, and digital. Through an analysis of the spread of digital infection, the dynamics of anti-virus software, and digital arts practices, Knight discusses a poetics of fear and desire that is instrumental to the transmission of this virtual pathology. Knight continues, drawing parallels with crowdsourced epidemiology apps that track illness and promote physical health, and makes a powerful case for what Richard Grusin has called the “premediation” of anxiety as a strategy for managing affect in the 21st Century.

A Vital Materialist goes to The Lego Movie


A serious (and playful) consideration of the power of “things,” Christopher Leise reviews Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things through the lens of the Lego Movie. The implied dynamism of the manipulable modularity of the Lego world provides strong resonances with Bennett’s take on “thing-power” and distributed agency, while the crisis in the plot of the Lego Movie offers an apt illustration of the dangers of human exceptionalism discussed in Bennett’s text.

Environmental Remediation


Bridging Superfund sites and video games, Alenda Chang’s essay revisits media- and computation-centered definitions of remediation to extend media and mediation past the pale of digital visual technology. Through a parallel consideration of what’s known as environmental remediation—cleaning up or cordoning off polluted sites, using technological or biotechnological methods—Chang argues that human and nonhuman bodies and ecosystems are equally enmeshed in practices of communication and transformation.

An Interview with Steve Tomasula


Steve Tomasula discusses the development and context of his work (and TOC in particular), including relations to print and electronic literature, in this interview with Kiki Benzon.

The Importance of Being Earnest in Flatland


By working through the resemblances between Tomasula’s Vas: An Opera in Flatland (2004) and Edward Abbott’s much earlier Flatland (1884), Pham-Thanh establishes how Tomasula “orchestrates the downfall of the traditional hegemonic masculinity” that defined Abbott’s time.

A World in Numbers: A Review of Michael Joyce, Going the Distance


Joyce’s treatment of baseball in Going the Distance isn’t merely thematic, according to Punday, who believes that baseball (and its emphasis on numerical ordering) here represents the balance of the poetic and computational that defines Joyce’s electronic literature.

Undead Letters and Archaeologies of the Imagination: Review of Michael Joyce’s Foucault, in Winter, in the Linnaeus Garden


Ciccoricco acknowledges that Michael Joyce’s new novel (Foucault, in Winter, in the Linnaeus Garden), which gives a fictionalized account of Foucualt’s relationship to Jean Barraque, opens Joyce up to a broader range of criticisms, though Ciccoricco also argues that by focusing on a “productive and troubled time for Foucault,” Joyce ultimately offers a “compelling meditation on what we might call the nexus of madness, philosophy, and literature.”