Publications

 

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.

 

 

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.