Electronic Literature Translation: Translation as Process, Experience and Mediation


“[T]ranslation is merely a preliminary way of coming to terms with the foreignness of languages to each other.” (Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator” [1921])

Postcinematic Writing


Adrian Miles (09/19/1960 — 02/05/2018) was an early theorist, practioner and teacher of cinematic hypertext and networked, “writerly” video. In memory of his innovative research in these fields, ebr presents this short dialogue between Adrian and founding ebr publisher Mark Amerika. The text is republished from META/DATA: A Digital Poetics, by Mark Amerika, with permission from The MIT Press.   


Getting Lost in Narrative Virtuality


Repetition, gestural abstraction and depictions of noise; an absence of narrative causation, a multiplicity of micro-narratives and opacity of material communications: The digital narrativity observed and created by Will Luers is equally applicable to the films of Stanley Kubrick or the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch - which implies a longer continuity (and less radical transformation?) than we might have expected. Indeed, Luers argues that “networks and nonlinear systems” might better be understood as “something deep in our brains,” even as narrative may be regarded “as a necessary construct, but not the complete picture of reality.”

Cinema without Reflection by Akira Mizuta Lippit

If it’s true, as Leiya Lee argues, that Akira Mizuta Lippit turns Derridean theory into a system, then it’s a system grounded in ghostly presences (not least Derrida’s own presence in film). 

Aesthetic Animism: Digital Poetry's Ontological Implications

A review of Aesthetic Animism, so vulnerably personal, and at the same time so pragmatically organized, that it might just suggest a possible future for scholarly and creative scholarship: a digital practice that (in Jhave’s words) “distends selves towards collectivities that remind it of oblivion.” For the moment, that inevitability is avoided by the book’s receipt of the 2017 N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature.

Text Generation, or Calling Literature into Question


Reflecting on the genealogy and histories of “transgressive textualities” and text generators, Aquilina offers readings of texts by Swift, Dahl, Orwell, and Borges to consider the terms and issues involved in situating text generators as transgressive.

The End of Landscape: Holes by Graham Allen


In her discussion of the textual, technical, and figurative characteristics of Graham Allen’s Holes (2017), Karhio “argues that [Allen’s text] is not a landscape poem in the customary sense” and explores the ways in which the digital platforms deployed in the project’s creation and publication contribute to the signifying structures that “challenge the idea of landscape as symbolic representation of the inner world of the speaking subject.”


Back to the Book: Tempest and Funkhouser’s Retro Translations


Jeneen Naji describes Chris Funkhouser’s Press Again and Sonny Rae Tempest’s Famicommunist Poetics as examples of “the UnderAcademy style” begun by Talan Memmott. At the same time, within the context of post-digital publication, Naji explores concepts like “transcreation” and “translation” insofar as the two digital practitioners have conveyed experimental e-texts into print.

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


In this essay, Robert P. Fletcher demonstrates how, while putting together digital and print media affordances, augmented print may evoke in readers a sense of the uncanny. Fletcher also explains how works such as Amaranth Borsuk’s Abra (2014), Aaron A. Reed and Jacob Garbe’s Ice-Bound (2016) or Stuart Campbell’s Modern Polaxis (2014) seem to demonstrate the existence of a never-ending return of the “familiar” in electronic literature.

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.”

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.

This essay was reprinted in part for the Handbook of Electronic Literature (Bloomsbury 2018).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Iteration, you see: Floating Text and Chaotic Reading/Viewing in slippingglimpse


Crossing the tools of fluid dynamics with those of literary criticism, Gwen Le Cor casts a new light on contemporary writing in new media. Unlike first generation, “classical” hypertexts that were non-linear in the sense of using linked textual elements, Le Cor sees Strickland and Lawson Jaramillo’s poem, slippingglimpse, as a more “contemporary” instance of nonlinear writing that can be viewed (literally) as a “complex, nonlinear turbulent system.”



In PAIN.TXT, Alan Sondheim and Sandy Baldwin explore the limitations of expression at the borders of human sensation. Derived from a dialog between Sondheim and Baldwin on extreme pain, this essay considers how one signifies intensity and another attempts to interpret that intensity, and the challenges this process poses for affect, imagination, and ultimately intersubjectivity. In keeping with the content of this piece, the two preserve the dialog format, recreating for readers a discourse on pain that never finds its center.

Visualising Networks of Electronic Literature: Dissertations and the Creative Works They Cite


Jill Walker Rettberg’s Visualizing Networks of Electronic Literature maps the fragmentary and dynamic field of electronic literature by analyzing citations in 44 doctoral dissertations published between 2002 and 2013. Applying “distant reading” strategies to the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, Rettberg identifies key works in the field, shifting genres, and changing approaches to scholarship.

Nature’s Agents: Chreods, Code, Plato, and Plants


In “Nature’s Agents,” Lisa Swanstrom discusses the agency of objects operating within networks. Specifcally, Swanstrom addresses works which allow nature to correspond with humans in a shared environment, posing provocative questions about the idea of agency itself as expressed in an ecology of action.

An Emerging Canon? A Preliminary Analysis of All References to Creative Works in Critical Writing Documented in the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base


Scott Rettberg’s essay, “An Emerging Canon?”, highlights the potential for macroanalytic approaches to literary study, specifically in the field of electronic literature. Through his study of the richly populated ELMCIP Knowledge Base, Rettberg analyzes the impact that specific works have had within scholarly and creative communities, and enumerates the potential benefits that this work might have for the preservation, study, and understanding of the field.

Speculative Aesthetics: Whereto the Humanities?


Maria Engberg reviews two books that describe the dialectical relationship between literary production, digital media, and literary reception from opposite ends of the historical and aesthetic spectrum. “Literary paleontologist” C.T. Funkhouser examines the born-digital poetry of the 1950s (and earlier), while Johanna Drucker writes an eye-witness account of the contemporary encounter between print literature, humanities research, and “speculative computing.”

Digital Humanities in Praxis: Contextualizing the Brazilian Electronic Literature Collection


In the following essay, Luciana Gattass discusses the formation of a Brazilian Electronic Literature Collection via analysis of works identified in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base. Positioned between the existence of geographical data and the question of a national literature, Gattass considers the role of the human critic in the age of big data.

Internet radio and electronic literature: locating the text in the act of listening


In this ambitious piece, “Internet radio and electronic literature,” John Barber examines the role of sound in electronic literature. Identifying, initially, the important role that sound has played in support of the visual and the rich history of sound art and radio drama, Barber proceeds to probe the untapped potential of digital audio as a field for future development.

One + One = Zero – Vanishing Text in Electronic Literature


In “One + One = Zero,” Marjorie C. Luesebrink discusses “fleeting” messages and their implications for electronic literature. Beginning with a discussion of the popular social media app, Snapchat, Luesebrink considers a series of works of electronic literature that employ tropes of vanishing and inaccessibility to represent forgetfulness, limited perception, and the challenges posed by dynamic environments for contemporary readers. After tracing a path through two decades of digital practice, Luesebrink points to a future in which the vanishing text will continue to be a relevant site for literary innovation.

E-Literary Text in the Nomadic Cockpit


In this essay, Janez Strehovec explores the literary from the “nomadic cockpit” everyday life in the 21st Century. More than merely being cocooned by screens, Strehovec’s metaphor describes the way in which our travel through the environment is layered with navigational data, environmental surveillance, communication systems, and tied into a dynamic feedback loop. From this vantage point, Strehovec considers a number of works of digital art and electronic literature that are written precisely to be read in motion, to explore the sensations of life in the nomadic cockpit.

A Tag, Not a Folder


The “electronicness” in literary writing, Ian Hatcher suggests, is more of a cognitive disposition, an atmosphere or condition that is present regardless of the print/screen/pen(cil)/paper medium one inhabits.

Just Humanities


What are we to make of current calls for “practice based” research in the Digital Humanities and e-lit fields? What about “art as research”? Stephanie Boluk sounds a caution concerning the ways that literary studies are being worked into the “instrumentalization and corporatization of the university system.”

Who’s Left Holding the (Electrical) Bag? A Look to See What We’ve Missed


Recalling ebr’s early exploration into “green” and “grey” ecologies, invisible etchings on silicon and massive environmental consequences, Ben Bishop calls our attention to questions of “power” at the heart of our newly digitized critical and creative practices: “Not clout or capability, but electrical power generated by spinning turbines.”

ELO: Theory, Practice, and Activism


One of several early career participants at the Electronic Literature Organization’s Summer 2012 “Futures” panel, Claire Donato comes down on the side of non-commercial, non-entrepreneurial, educational approaches to an emerging digital literary practice.

dELO: Affordances and Constraints


Commenting on the high price of long term literary collaboration (and the brevity of most funding in the Humanities), Samantha Gorman asks if it’s necessary for arts practitioners today to create commercial start-ups. Can scholars and Digital Language Arts entrepreneurs find a way to bring literary work into “hybrid communities” and “outreach”?

The Ode to Translation or the Outcry Over the Untranslatable


Natalia Fedorova claims sees the future of electronic literature in translation: just as translation from her native Russian to English can teach us about both of those languages, translations between “natural languages” and “languages of code” can clarify what makes electronic language literary.

Histories of the Future


For Patrick LeMieux, the future of electronic literature is not before us, and instead entails an investigation of the past–of the unknowable territories we collaborate with through e-lit.

Electrifying Literature: ELO Conference 2012


How does the electronic literature community continue to develop? Amaranth Borsuk looks towards the print literature community, and suggests that we adopt a number of its most successful practices.

Reading the Wind


In his video-poem “Reading the Wind,” Dave (Jhave) Johnston identifies the current environment for electronic literature, and in doing so, claims the impossibility of knowing its future.

Editing Electronic Literature Scholarship in the Global Publishing System


The practice of Electronic Literature has long raised questions about literary form, literary content, the author, the reader, the moment of publication, and the artifact itself. The companion to the lifecycle of the work in its ecosystem, of course, is the editorial vision itself. In this essay, Sandy Baldwin and Tiffany Zerby call for editors and publishers of works on and about e-lit to become active participants in the process of creating the entire work and in creating the field around works of e-lit. Through analysis of historical and contemporary efforts to prepare edited “collections” (in print, on the web, and/or in databases), Baldwin and Zerby make editorial work visible as creative and critical practice.

Literature in a State of Emergency


Giorgio Agamben has identified the “State of Exception” as the emergent principle of governance for the 21st Century. Parallel to this crisis in politics, there is the increasing currency of the term emergence in literary criticism, media theory, and cultural studies to describe the general state of change. In this paper, Heckman considers electronic literature in the “state of emergency,” as both a laboratory for formal innovation and a site of critique. Specifically, this paper takes into account the relationship between literacy, law, literature and criticism through a reading of Sandy Baldwin’s New Word Order, a work that reimagines poetry in the context of the first-person shooter game.

Against Desire: Excess, Disgust and the Sign in Electronic Literature


Brian Kim Stefans proposes the need for a resistance to the “free play” associated with electronic writing, and discusses how this resistance will elevate electronic literature for both the author and the reader. He argues that poetic discharge is comparable with excess and bodily disgust, citing Sianne Ngai, and Steve McCaffery’s “North of Intention.” Stefans argues that avant-garde excess must be based on a balanced reflection on authorial presences. He draws his argument from his work on The Scriptor Project, which was inspired by his desire to bring “digital textuality back to the drama of the hand making marks on the page - literally dramatizing the act of writing by hand, the plays of body and mind that are erased in standard typography.”

Condors’ Polyphony and Jawed Water-lines Catapulted Out: Gnoetry and its Place in Text Processing’s History


Chris Funkhouser and Andrew Klobucar situate the poetry anthologized in the recent collection “Gnoetry Daily, Vol. 1: a collection of poetry written interactively with computers” within a long genealogy of computer aided writing in order to illustrate how that genealogy continues to be both aesthetically generative and socially significant.

The E-Literary World and the Social


According to Janez Strehovec, e-literature operates on the model of post-Fordist immaterial production. He argues it’s precisely because “a part of contemporary art (especially the new media one and e-literature) is crossing into the service sector of (new) networked economy in the post-industrial, information, spectacle-  and software society” that e-literature needs to cultivate its own autonomous context.

Espacement de Lecture


This introduction is not a “digital” essay, but what follows it - a version of a moving essay-poem originally presented in real time at the 2012 elo conference - is. Florence’s presentation explores how the “espacement” (Mallarme, Derrida) intrinsic to all writing changes in a born-digital context. The work reminds us of something we anticipated early in the formation of ebr - that ‘critifiction’ is and always has been the way to make essays in the digital era.

At the Time of Writing: Digital Media, Gesture, and Handwriting


“At the Time of Writing” considers the role of proprioception and the embodied memory of writing and gesture as a critical component of readerly practices. Anna Gibbs and Maria Angel examine a series of works of born digital literature that use representational techniques to evoke an “ethos of touch” that is critical to the experience of the work. Gibbs and Angel conclude that feeling is key to the process of meaning-making, and that experimental interfaces foreground the importance of the body in literature.

Galatea’s Riposte: The Reception and Receptacle of Interactive Fiction


Type enough questions, Lisa Swanstrom suggests, and “Galatea” answers Socrates’ ancient call for a poetry that talks back. Using Emily Short’s interactive fiction as a model, Swanstrom argues that the khora - the strange Platonic intermediary between form and copy - might serve as a guide for understanding the peculiar nature of literary interactivity itself.

Against Information: Reading (in) the Electronic Waste Land


Andrew Klobucar argues that a new iPad app for The Waste Land demonstrates, despite the developer’s intentions and Eliot’s fears, that the symbolic form of the database is irrepressible.  According to Klobucar, Eliot bemoans the cultural impact of new media and technological innovation, though his poem–particularly through Pound’s editorial notes and Eliot’s added annotations–employs the structure of a database. The app for The Waste Land attempts to mitigate this tension by promoting a single legitimate version of the poem, though the app’s structure ultimately works against that model, as it frees readers from the imposed authority of singular narrative.

Lift This End: Electronic Literature in a Blue Light


Taking recent writings-of-internet as test cases, Stuart Moulthrop demonstrates the folly of deploying modernist compositional models, even avant-garde theories of citational and conceptual poetry recently popularized by Kenneth Goldsmith and the Flarf poets, to read born-digital writing. Though it may be fun, it’s ultimately futile to interpret the contingent output of an “interface in process” as a poem existing in a fixed, terminable state. Perhaps, then, interfacing with databases is becoming integral to not just electronic literature and digital poetics but all forms of literary study and practice?

The Politics of Plasticity: Neoliberalism and the Digital Text


In this essay, Davin Heckman argues that works of electronic literature often provide occasions for cultivating attention in a mutable cultural landscape. Through readings of John Cayley, YHCHI, Rob Wittig, and Richard Holeton, Heckman points to a poetics of technical estrangement by which new media is opened up to deliberative reading, and thus presents contemporary readers with the opportunity to develop critical practices appropriate for the conditions of neoliberalism.

Post-Digital Writing


Florian Cramer’s essay reframes debates on electronic literature within larger cultural developments in writing and publishing. On the one hand, he shows the commitment of the field of electronic literature - as found in universities or in organizations such as the ELO - to a “literary” intermedia writing for electronic (display) media. On the other hand, he emphasizes a wide-ranging post-digital poetics defined by a DIY media practice rather than the choice of a particular medium, a poetics which is broadly orientated towards writing rather than literature. At stake in this opposition is the larger question of literary studies in a world of creative digital industries.

The Assimilation of Text by Image


Jhave’s wide-ranging history and prospectus alerts us to cognitive, material, and mythic dimensions of the nexus of image and text. By showing how text evolved into image, the essay traces a new malleability, dimensionality, and embodiment of writing. The contemporary image-text is a quasi-object with experimental literary qualities as well as an almost organic media dynamism.

Language as Gameplay: toward a vocabulary for describing works of electronic literature


Just as Walter Benjamin declared that all “great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one,” Brian Kim Stefans argues that all successful works of electronic literature are sui generis and invent their own genre. There can be a vocabulary for this invention, however, and Stefans sets out “The Holy Grails of Electronic Literature,” “Six Varieties of Crisis,” and the “Surrealist Fortune Cookie.” Through these concepts, he describes the formal challenges, reading experiences, and fundamental textual units of electronic literature.

Digital Manipulability and Digital Literature


Serge Bouchardon and Davin Heckman put the digit back into the digital by emphasizing touch and manipulation as basic to in digital literature. The digital literary work unites figure, grasp, and memory. Bouchardon and Heckman show that digital literature employs a rhetoric of grasping. It figures interaction and cognition through touch and manipulation. For Bouchardon and Heckman, figure and grasp lead to problems of memory - how do we archive touch and manipulation? - requiring renewed efforts on the part of digital literary writers and scholars.

In Defense of Meaning: Roberto Simanowski Close Reads Digital Art


Yra van Dijk calls for a return to the text, for a criticism of digital literature that moves past foundational work on the new form and seriously engages with the work itself. In Roberto Simanowski’s Digital Art and Meaning and in the edited collection Reading Moving Letters, van Dijk finds a return engagement with deep meaning and with criticism as a site of intentional human experience, and not of heavy theory or machinic spectacle.

Shuffle Literature and the Hand of Fate


Zuzana Husárová and Nick Montfort up the ante for experimental writing by examining the category of “shuffle literature.” What is shuffle literature? Simply put: books that are meant to be shuffled. Using formal reading of narrative and themes, but also a material reading of construction and production, Husárová and Montfort show that there are many writing practices and readerly strategies associated with this diverse category of literature.

“The dead must be killed once again”: Plagiotropia as Critical Literary Practice


Rui Torres tracks the practice of intertextual borrowing or “plagiotropia” between the works of Portuguese experimental poets. Plagiotropia is a tangible and fecund practice in digital poetry, where poetic texts migrate and grow across media. Torres’ arguments culminate in an examination of his own online combinatory cyber-poetry, which creatively re-writes earlier pre-digital experimental works.

Where Are We Now?: Orienteering in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2


In an increasingly monolingual, globalized world, the second volume of the Electronic Literature Collection may just offer a map of the territory. The question the reviewer, John Zuern, poses is how do we navigate this terrain going forward?

A New "Gospel of the Three Dimensions": Expanding the Boundaries of Digital Literature in Jörgen Schäfer and Peter Gendolla's Beyond the Screen


Just when you thought you were used to electronic literature, this critic makes the case for “beyond the screen” with a review of Jörgen Schäfer and Peter Gendolla’s book of the same title, focusing on “transformations of literary structures, interfaces and genre.”

"You are cordially invited to a / CHEMICAL WEDDING": Metamorphiction and Experimentation in Jeff Noon's Cobralingus


How does a sample of de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater give birth to a mutant, six-fingered hand? This essay articulates the logic of Noon’s 2001 experiment in constrained writing, which concretizes the play of signal and noise, pattern and randomness, in the flow of information. In the process, the critic suggests, Noon dramatizes how printed texts rupture and reassemble when they are transferred to electronic media.

For Thee: A Response to Alice Bell


Stuart Moulthrop uses the lessons of hypertext as both an analogy and an explanation for why hypertext and its criticism will stay in a “niche” - and why, despite Bell’s concern, that’s not such a bad thing. As the response of an author to his critic, addressed to “thee,” “implicitly dragging her into the niche with me,” this review also dramatizes the very productivity of such specialized, nodal encounters.

Computers, Cut-ups, and Combinatory Volvelles


In this piece - part introduction, part artist’s statement - Whitney Anne Trettien reflects on her “combinatory” approach to the history of “text-generating mechanisms.”

A [S]creed for Digital Fiction


An international group of digital fiction scholars proposes a platform of critical principles, seeking to build the foundation for a truly “digital” approach to literary study.

Ping Poetics


Sandy Baldwin investigates the manner in which a computer “ping trace” can be classified as a form of digital poetics, and discusses the underlying symbolic practices of both poesis and poetics that encompass coding and computation.

Against Digital Poetics


Sandy Baldwin explores the distinctions between non-digital poetry, digital poetry, and e-literature in general, and considers whether or not such distinctions are ultimately untenable.

Text, Textile, Exile: Meditations on Poetics, Metaphor, Net-work


“Man Ray, Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein, themes of disorientation,
displacement, diaspora, defamiliarized language” and that’s just the
d’s. With such “little clues, like stitches coding a special
language,” Maria Damen weaves an essay-narrative based on her Summer
2007 residency in Riga, Latvia.

On an Unhuman Earth


“Why shouldn’t Wordsworth be read through Whitehead? Why shouldn’t the canon of Romantic poetry be read alongside the inscription
technologies of cartography or tour guides?” Eugene Thacker’s
challenge to the recent compartmentalization of academic literary studies is inspired by a reading of Ron Broglio’s book, Technologies of the Picturesque. For Thacker, as for Broglio, literary Romanticism and phenomenological reflection are not the only unifying forces against the dissolution of the technological subject.

A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Digital Poetics


Michael McDonough reviews Brian Kim Stefans’ book of poetry Before Starting Over, asserting that Stefans is concerned with the redefinition of critical discourse in the face of the loss of the singularity of the work of art. Stefans is not out to substitute an ideology of surface and take our deep meanings away. He mines contemporary poetics with an encyclopedic attention while resisting dogmatic assertions.

Either You're With Us and Against Us: Charles Bernstein's Girly Man, 9-11, and the Brechtian Figure of the Reader


Tim Peterson brilliantly lays out for us how Charles Bernstein’s Girly Man represents the mobilization of queer rhetoric, iconoclastic values, and an implied notion of the family in the figure of the Girly Man.

Introduction: ceci n'est pas un texte


Lori Emerson introduces a gathering of nineteen electro-poetic essays. This gathering brings together both
critics and creators of electronic poetry; as is usually the case in ebr, the ‘electronic’ does not exclude, but helps us to reconfigure and revalue poetic works in print as well as define what works in digital

The Database, the Interface, and the Hypertext: A Reading of Strickland's V


Reading Stephanie Strickland’s V: Losing L’una/WaveSon.nets/Vniverse, Jaishree Odin explores the implications of the paradigm shift from modernity to postmodernity for our understanding of reading, writing and living.

Speed the Movie or Speed the Brand Name or Aren't You the Kind that Tells: My Sentimental Journey through Future Shock and Present Static Electricity. Version 19.84


Charles Bernstein. Keyword: speed. Speed as a morally coded concept. Speed as success. An ethics of speed. Speed-reading. Virtual reading. Cultural speed-up. Speed kills.

Robert Creeley's Radical Poetics


Marjorie Perloff reflects on the legacy of misreadings of Robert Creeley’s work and argues that his complex poetics should be read transnationally.

Perloff on Pedagogical Process: Reading as Learning


Douglas Barbour reads Marjorie Perloff’s Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy as a notable addition to her oeuvre, another grab-bag of pertinent, impertinent, and always provocative readings of both a wide range of works and some of the social/cultural contexts in which we read them.

An Inside and an Outside


In his review of two of Robert Creeley’s last published books, Douglas Manson urges us to read these late poems as sending ideas outward, toward an “outside,” so that we begin gathering in tomes, searching for quotes.

Literature from Page to Interface: The Treatments of Text in Christophe Bruno's Iterature


Søren Pold explores the ways in which Christophe Bruno’s Iterature expands the notion of literary form and shows what happens when words are no longer only part of a language.

How to Think (with) Thinkertoys: Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1


Adalaide Morris considers ‘tutor texts’ in the Electronic Literature Collection and, in doing so, articulates a poetics for the emerging field of e-lit. Instead of fulfilling Ted Nelson’s dream of ‘computer lib,’ the most compelling entries in the Collection emphasize the continuing necessity of writing under constraint. When the revolution
turns out to be, not a liberation from a culture of control but its
transformation, practices long familiar to experimental poets in print become generalized throughout new media and their panoply of

Letters That Matter: The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1


John Zuern considers the significance of the first volume of ELO’s Electronic Literature Collection for the future of electronic arts.

Electronic Literature circa WWW (and Before)


Chris Funkhouser reads the Electronic Literature Collection Vol. 1 as a crucial document, an effective reflection of literary expression and areas of textual exploration in digital form.

Biopoetics; or, a Pilot Plan for a Concrete Poetry


Eugene Thacker resituates the work of Eduardo Kac, not as art applied to the life sciences, but as a form of bio-poetics, consistent with the electro-poetics that has been a longtime focus of critical writing in ebr. Rather than reduce the work to its material (in life-forms, or in text, or in code), Thacker identifies ways that language, form, and life intersect in works of bio-art.

Art, Empire, Industry: The Importance of Eduardo Kac


Sandy Baldwin identifies Eduardo Kac as a conceptual artist, a
forerunner of electronic poetry, and a critical writer whose essays
perform their own content: “writing on new media art as new media

The Linguistic Cartography of Toilets and Ginger Ale


For Angela Szczepaniak, Canadian poet Stephen Cain visually distorts language by blurring the borders of poetic language and national identity, which are often assumed to be much more clear and distinct than they actually are.

Eshleman's Caves: a review of JUNIPER FUSE


For Jay Murphy, Clayton Eshleman in his JUNIPER FUSE makes a resounding case for lived experience, for the tortuous growth, however partial or fragmented, as rooted in self-suffering as modes of vision and dream.

Three from The Gig: New Work By/About Maggie O'Sullivan, Allan Fisher, and Tom Raworth


Three recent poetry publications by Nate Dorward’s press The Gig are reviewed by Greg Betts; these are not poems so much as environments outside of, perhaps astride, the contingencies of systems.

Soft Links of Innovative Narrative in North America


The collection of innovative writing Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative is, for Janet Neigh, also a refreshing example of innovation of the anthology genre itself.

Seeing the novel in the 21st Century


Mike Barrett evaluates Steve Tomasula’s The Book of Portraiture in terms of its place between tradition and artistic innovation in the 21st century.

The Comedy of Scholarship


Katherine Weiss revisits Hugh Kenner’s playful work of scholarship Flaubert, Joyce, and Beckett: The Stoic Comedians, a book which offers a glance into the more experimental scholarship of 1960s France and provides an analysis that to this day seems original.

The Death of a Beautiful Woman: Christopher Nolan's Idea of Form


In a reading of Christopher Nolan’s films (with and against texts by Poe, Wittgenstein, Searle, and Derrida), Walter Benn Michaels examines the autonomy of the work of art.

The Gesture of Explanation Without Intelligibility: Ronald Schleifer's Analogical Thinking


Stephen Hawkins reviews Ronald Schleifer’s Analogical Thinking, arguing that despite Schleifer’s attempts at interdisciplinarity, his book falls short of a truly collaborative approach.

Saving the Past: Deleuze's Proust and Signs


Stephen Hawkins engages with the “web of counterintuitive, paradoxical, contentious and yet important claims” that he identifies in
Gilles Deleuze’s Proust and Signs.

Reading the Conflicting Reviews: The Naysayers Gerald Graff overlooked in Clueless in Academe


Geneviève Brassard defends Gerald Graff’s original approaches in Clueless in Academe against his critics - for the problem with Graff’s book does not lie between the covers but rather between the ears of those who fault him excessively for sins of omission and commission.

Illogic of Sense | The Gregory L. Ulmer Remix: Introduction


Darren Tofts and Lisa Gye introduce the collection of essays, appearing here in the electropoetics thread, from the Alt-x e-book The Illogic of Sense.

On Hip-Hop, A Rhapsody


Michael Jarrett practices an Ulmer-inspired heuretics to write about rap.

The King and I: Elvis and the Post-Mortem or A Discontinuous Narrative in Several Media (On the Way to Hypertext)


Niall Lucy enacts a writing that weaves critical and theoretical speculation, rock journalism, hagiography and autobiography.



Jon McKenzie, a former student of Gregory Ulmer’s, traces the relations of influence and mentorship.

From Mystorian to Curmudgeon: Skulking Toward Finitude


Marcel O’Gorman offers a candid account of what it means to introduce the computer apparatus into teaching in the humanities.

The Two Ulmers in e-Media Studies: Vehicle and Driver


Craig Saper ingeniously interprets Gregory Ulmer as an object of study, as both a vehicle and driver of signification.



Linda Marie Walker writes an involved meditation on the concept of the interface and its relation to place.



Rowan Wilken sets himself the challenge of theorizing the unrepresentable in relation to the architectural model of the diagram.

The Way We Live Now, What is to be Done?


Jerome McGann addresses the so-called “Crisis in the Humanities” in the context of two of its most apparent symptoms: the digital transformation of our museums and archives, and the explicitly parallel “Crisis in Tenure and Publishing” that has more recently come to attention.

Critical Code Studies


Entering the ‘cyberdebates’ initiated by Nick Montfort, John Cayley, and Rita Raley, new media scholar Mark Marino proposes that we should analyze and explicate code as a text like any other, ‘a sign system with its own rhetoric’ and cultural embeddedness.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Mothers?


Linda Brigham reviews Katherine Hayles’ My Mother was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts.

Finding Holes in the Whole


Jacob Edmond reviews Brian McHale’s The Obligation toward the Difficult Whole.

Recto and Sub-Verso


Eckhard Gerdes reviews Harold Jaffe’s Terror-Dot-Gov: Docufictions.

Virtual Realism


Luc Herman and Bart Vervaeck review Marie Laure-Ryan’s Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. They review the essential characteristics of hypertext to suggest more nuanced ways to understand realism in relation to virtual reality.

Bass Resonance


1999 e-literature award winner John Cayley writes about Saul Bass of classic film title fame. A precursor to language arts innovators Jenny Holzer, Richard Kostelanetz, and Cayley himself, Bass may now be recognized as a poet in his own ‘write,’ important for a new generation of designwriters creating “graphic bodies of language,” moving words and signifying images, in digital environments.

Querying the Connoisseur of Chaos


A Wallace Stevens conference review from poet and critic Ravi Shankar.

Being Inside the Sentence


Gregg Biglieri reads “into” Actress in the House and revels in Joseph McElroy’s syntax.

Confronting Chaos


Joseph Tabbi reviews Joe Conte’s Design and Debris and gauges the argument for chaotics-as-aesthetics across media.

In My Own Recognizance


Ronald Sukenick on Extreme Fiction.

The Contour of a Contour


Despite talk of endings and absences at Eastgate Systems, Dave Ciccoricco investigates continuities in the work of Michael Joyce and Mark Bernstein.



Rone Shavers argues that making readers aware of subjugation - the strategy of Harold Jaffe’s False Positive - exposes little and hardly changes our relation to power.

Pervaded by Epistemology


A review of Writing Machines, building on a number of the book’s earlier reviewers in ebr and elsewhere.

New Media Studies


Scott Rettberg introduces ‘New Media Studies’: a cluster of reviews, and a term (similar in its emergence to the term ‘Postmodernism’).

The Materiality of Technotexts


A book about books conscious of their materiality, N. Katherine Hayles’ Writing Machines draws praise from Raine Koskimaa for its own media consciousness, and blame for embodied emphasis.

A User's Guide to the New Millennium


Over 800 pages, the New Media Reader does not exhaust its subject; it even sets the stage for a companion volume.

Bridge Work


Form and platform are bridged in Stephanie Strickland’s “V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L’una,” a book with two beginings and a website to boot. Chris Funkhouser tests the load limit of this innovative, precarious structure.

Justin Hall and the Birth of the 'Blogs


Rob Wittig looks at one of the earliest “Weblogs,” and finds there a persisting model for serial e-fiction and an interaction no less compelling than the literary correspondence between Henry Miller and Anais Nin.

Evangelizing the Everyday Web


Scott Rettberg appreciates Weinberg’s small pieces more than his ‘unified theory,’ while viewing the Internet not as an economic panacea but a communication medium woven into the fabric of contemporary culture.

Kaye in Wonderland


Komninos Zervos reviews the Hayles/Burdick collaboration, Writing Machines (2003), and reengages the cyberdebates (initiated in Y2K).

The Museum of Hyphenated Media


New media in a book, metafiction in hypertext: the printed book, as yet, is the more hospitable medium. (The New Media Reader; Figurski at Findhorn on Acid.)

The Poetry of John Matthias


A generous selection, with commentary and biographical background, for those coming newly to Matthias’s work.

The Code is not the Text (unless it is the Text)


An argument against the collapse of categories by an author who has, yes, himself perpetrated a few codeworks.

Interferences: [Net.Writing] and the Practice of Codework


Rita Raley on the varieties of code/text, as discovered in the object-oriented aesthetic of Mez, Ted Warnell, Talan Memmott, Alan Sondheim, and others.

The Rules of the Game


Virginia Kuhn reviews an essay collection - Cybertext: Yearbook 2000 - ambivalent about its own printed status.

Intersection and Struggle: Poetry In a New Landscape


Brandon Barr considers Loss Glazier’s attempt at a hypertext poetics that moves beyond the link.

Shopping for Truth


Adrien Gargett on Pierre Missac’s unification of empirical biography and textual production, and the development of a “criticism of indirection” too often missing from Benjamin studies.

Accretive Dreams, Junk Narrativity, & Orphaned Excess in Moderation


Lance Olsen reviews hypertext writing, past and present, by Robert Arellano.

A Poetics of the Link


Jeff Parker contributes to the ongoing debate on electropoetics and invites readers to post their own link types and descriptions.

No. No. [Novel not to die


Stacey Levine reviews Re.La.Vir by Jan Ramjerdi.

Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star


Nick Montfort reviews Espen J. Aarseth’s Cybertext, which stakes out a post-hypertextual terrain for literary criticism and practice. Interactive excerpts from some of the cybertexts that Aarseth discusses are included.

To Be Both in Touch and in Control


Stephanie Strickland unravels the crochet of categorizations used to contain data, and explores the texture and topography of a hypertext poetics.

Ventriloquies: On the Outlook for a Poetic Planet


Against the literary history proposed by Marjorie Perloff, Shaw goes on the lookout for an Outlook that just might save poetry from contemporary theory.

La Vielle Porte and Other Poems


Raymond Federman compiles a small manual of poetic pleasures.

A Migration Between Media


Joseph Tabbi reads both the book and the hypertext version of Strickland’s True North.

The Haunting of Benjamin Britten


John Matthias reflects on Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of 1992, in light of earlier work by Auden and recent findings.

Reviewing the Reviewers of Literary Hypertexts


Thomas Swiss unravels Laura Miller’s arguments in the New York Times Book Review and finds news of hypertext’s demise premature - as was Robert Coover’s call for the end of books five years ago in the same journal.

Seven League Boots: Poetry, Science, Hypertext


Stephanie Strickland asks how a poetics of hypertext can structure encounters with the world that are as resonant and co-participatory as quantum models.

L'Affaire PMC: The Postmodern Culture-Johns Hopkins University Press Conversation


Joel Felix listens in on Postmodern Culture’s privatization debate.

Richard Powers after Louis Zukofsky: A Prospectus of the Sky


From Zukofsky’s “A” to Powers’ Goldbug Variations, in search of a social ecology of the self-discursive text.

Poetry@The_Millennium: A Conversation with Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris


A conversation with Pierre Joris and Jerome Rothenberg on the technology and politics of the millenial anthology.

Poetry in the Electronic Environment


Stephanie Strickland on the translation of poetry from print to screen.

Whither Leads the Poem of Forking Paths?


On the present and future of hypertext poetics (circa 1997).

Slash and Burn


Harold Jaffe offers a narrative model for the millenium.

British Poetry at Y2K


John Matthias reports on the state of British Poetry and its criticism.

Texts and Tools


Bringing the queston of ‘textuality’ into the cyberdebates, and refusing the conservative oppostion between contemplative reading and gaming, Daniel Punday argues that critics should embrace spinoff culture as a model for electronic writing.

Translation and the Oulipo: The Case of the Persevering Maltese


Oulipo poetics and the art of translation.

Key Concepts of Holopoetry


Artist Eduardo Kac writes on the attractions of the hologram as a malleable, fluid, and elastic medium for poetic expression.

The Affective Interface


Lorne Falk retells the allegory of Arachne, the divine weaver, netted in le cabinet virtuel



The second ebr special to employ the concrete poems of Daniel Wenk, working typographical variations on the term, “electropoetics.” Guest edited by Joel Felix, who in 1997 was an undergraduate Lit major at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

A Real Fictitious Interview Done by Smoke Signals


Millennial thoughts from Raymond Federman.

Un Policier sur la Police: The Gritty Reality Behind the Fonts You Read


on the ghost in the machine: the font as spiritual medium in CD-ROM poetry design

Why Did People Make Things Like This


A cyber (hyper) text reading through Copeland, Gibson, and Christopher Dewdney, with breaks for speculation on form and opacity. Is there a manifesto buried in here? You decide.

Harry Partch - A Poet's View


Alan Shaw on the poetics of composer Harry Partch and the musicality of greek prosody.

Some Questions on Greek Poetry and Music


On the musicality of Greek prosody.

ebr version 1.0: Winter 1995/96


From the start, the editors made it clear that the electronic book review would be about more than reviewing books.

Engineering Cyborg Ideology


N. Katherine Hayles discusses what happens when postmodern writers theorize in a void.