Current Projects

Conference Series

Beginning in 2002, ELO has organized and run a conference series dedicated to electronic literature. These conferences have been hosted by Brown University, École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, the University of California, Los Angeles, Université Paris 8, the University of Maryland, Washington State University Vancouver,  West Virginia University, and the University of Bergen. For more information about current conferences and archives from previous conferences, please visit our conference series site.

ELO’s 2016 conference, “Next Horizons: The 2016 ELO Conference & Media Art Festival,” will be at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, B.C. in conjunction with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, from 10-12 June 2016.

Electronic Literature Collection

The Electronic Literature Collection (ELC) is a periodical publication of current and older electronic literature in a form suitable for individual, public library, and classroom use. Both volume 1 and volume 2 of the publication are available online; volume 1 is also available as cross-platform CD-ROM, while volume 2 is available on a USB flash drive, both in a cases appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. The contents of the Collection are offered under a Creative Commons license so that libraries and educational institutions will be allowed to duplicate and install works and individuals can share the Collection with others. ELC3 was released February 2016 and now available for viewing.

Electronic Literature Directory

The Electronic Literature Directory provides an extensive database of listings for electronic works and their authors. Bibliographic information on pre-Web and other offline work is included, along with links to a great deal of work that is only a click away. The descriptive entries cover poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction works of electronic literature, including hypertexts, animated poems, interactive fiction, multimedia pieces, text generators, and works that allow reader collaboration. The directory allows readers and students to easily list all of an author’s works and to browse through different genres of work.


Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature

This multimedia eBook, published in June 2015 and funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Start Up grant, documents four works of early hypertext fiction and poetry, from 1986-1997. These literary works were produced with programming languages like BASIC or authoring systems like Storyspace and HyperCard and require a degree of interactivity between the reader and the work. They were also among the first computer-based works of literature to be sold commercially in the U.S. and, because of their availability through commercial distribution, were influential in shaping literary theory and criticism that, today, are used to discuss born digital writing. They are also literary works in danger of becoming inaccessible to the public because they were produced on and for computer platforms that today are obsolete. Works include Judy Malloy’s Uncle Roger, Version 3 (1987-88), John McDaid’s Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse (1993), Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl (1995), and Bill Bly’s We Descend (1997). By Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop, 2015.

Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary

This 2008 book by N. Katherine Hayles, published by the University of Notre Dame Press, has been released in an edition that includes a copy of the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1, on CD-ROM. There is a companion site online offering information about the book and resources. Read the introduction by ELO board member and former president, Joseph Tabbi.

Electronic Literature: What Is It?

This essay surveys the development and current state of electronic literature, from the popularity of hypertext fiction in the 1980’s to the present, focusing primarily on hypertext fiction, network fiction, interactive fiction, locative narratives, installation pieces, “codework,” generative art and the Flash poem. It also discusses the critical issues raised by electronic literature, pointing out that there is significant overlap with the print tradition. At the same time, the essay argues that the practices, texts, procedures, and processual nature of electronic literature require new critical models and ways of playing and interpreting the works. Hayles also discusses the Preservation, Archiving and Dissemination (PAD) initiative of ELO, including the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume I and the two white papers that are companion pieces to this essay, “Acid Free Bits” and “Born Again Bits.” It is hoped this essay will serve as a useful introduction for those new to electronic literature, including scholars, administrators, librarians, and funding administrators. Because this essay is the first systematic attempt to survey and summarize the fast-changing field of electronic literature, artists, designers, writers, critics, and other stakeholders may find it useful as an overview, with emphasis on recent creative and critical works. By N. Katherine Hayles, 2007.

Toward a Semantic Literary Web

Electronic literature is not just a “thing” or a “medium” or even a body of “works” in various “genres.” It is not poetry, fiction, hypertext, gaming, codework, or some new admixture of all these practices. E-Literature is, arguably, an emerging cultural form, as much a collective creation of new terms and keywords as it is the production of new literary objects. Both the “works” and their terms of description need to be tracked and referenced. Hence, a Directory of Electronic Literature needs to be, in the first place, a site where readers and (necessarily) authors are given the ability to identify, name, tag, describe, and legitimate works of literature written and circulating within electronic media. This essay grew out of practical debates among ELO’s Working Group on the Directory, established in the Spring of 2005 and active through the Winter of 2006. The essay offers a set of practical recommendations for development, links to potentially affiliated sites, and an overall vision of how literary form is created in a networked culture. The essay also offers speculations on how this curatorial activity can be coordinated with similar initiatives in the arts and with stakeholders in the current development of a Semantic Web. By Joseph Tabbi, 2007.

Born-Again Bits

This report is available online. Born-Again Bits: A Framework for Migrating Electronic Literature is an outcome of the PAD (Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination) project. By Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merrilee Proffitt, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 2005.

Acid-Free Bits

This pamphlet is available in print and online. Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature is an outcome of the PAD (Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination) project. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 2004.

State of the Arts

Keynote addresses, papers, and electronic literature from the State of the Arts Symposium are collected in this book and CD. State of the Arts: The Proceedings of the 2002 Electronic Literature Organization Symposium was edited by Scott Rettberg, 2003.


In an effort to preserve works of electronic literature, the ELO is developing a repository for online journals, works of electronic literature, community archives, and other digital materials. Partnering with us in this endeavor is the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab at the University of Victoria and Compute Canada. One of the first archives we have been given to manage is and its archival site Access to Turbulence’s hundreds of commissioned works will become available at its new home in January 2017. The ELO has been given is  the trAce Online Writing Centre digital files dating from 1995-2005. Access to trAce’s many resources will be available in the spring 2917.

Earlier Projects

In 2001, ELO sponsored the Electronic Literature Awards, the first and only award program of its kind. Judges Larry McCaffery and Heather McHugh awarded winners in the categories of poetry (John Cayley) and fiction (Caitlin Fisher). A selection of five works were also shortlisted in each category. ELO’s later Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination (PAD) project sought to identify threatened and endangered electronic literature and to maintain accessibility, encourage stability, and ensure availability of electronic works for readers, institutions, and scholars. PAD worked to supplement and contribute to the efforts of other projects aimed at preserving digital media, and other projects dealing with textual materials, by focusing on the particular problems of electronic literature, which can combine the complexity of a multimedia computer program with the demands of a literary text. The project resulted in the e(X)literature conference at UC Santa Barbara, the pamphlet Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature, and the report Born-Again Bits: A Framework for Migrating Electronic Literature.