Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This study investigates Anglophone digital poems, created with and disseminated through digital computer media, for their visual, kinetic, and textual practices. I seek to articulate an analytic method grounded in close readings of selected poems. I have chosen to focus on poetic practices that raise questions about spatiality, temporality, kineticism, and word-and-image construction. My chief interest lies in how poetic form is orchestrated and what forms of engagement these digital constructions present the reader with. Underlying the main arguments of this study is an understanding of literary works in general as materially, culturally, and historically situated entities. Such “attention to material” is brought to bear on the digital poems that I analyze. Building upon N. Katherine Hayles’s notion of a “media-specific analysis,” I propose a materially specific analysis. In line with this proposition, I investigate particular properties of three clusters of poems. I propose terms such poemevents, cinematographic poems, and visual noise poems. A common feature of digital poems is the multisensory experience created through visual, auditive, tactile, kinetic, and textual artifice. The reader’s level of interaction is often of utmost importance. To articulate the different roles that the reader has to take on, I use two compound terms: reader/user and reader/viewer/listener. I argue that the active embodied engagement that is required of the reader/user in some digital poems and the denial of an active participation in others is part of the works’ materiality. Digital poetry as a field is expanding; it would not be too daring to claim that the exploration of the writing of poetry in the age of new media has only begun. I conclude the thesis by looking forward to what might lay ahead, how literary scholarship can be inspired by digital poetic work, and the questions about literary materiality that it poses. See thesis presentation at

Works referenced

Titlesort descending Author Year
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Lexia to Perplexia Talan Memmott 2000
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open.ended Daniel C. Howe, Aya Natalia Karpinska 2004
overboard John Cayley 2004
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Text Rain Romy Achituv, Camille Utterback 1999
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Critical writing referenced

Titlesort descending Author Year
"Distance, Homelessness, Anonymity, and Insignificance": An Interview with Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Thomas Swiss, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries 2002
A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate Theodor Holm Nelson 1965
A Poem Is a Machine to Think With: Digital Poetry and the Paradox of Innovation Sandy Baldwin 2003
A Vanguard Projected in Motion: Early Kinetic Poetry in Portuguese Chris Funkhouser 2005
Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature Nick Montfort, Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2004
Aporia and Epiphany in Doom and The Speaking Clock Espen Aarseth 1999
Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Jacques Derrida 1998
Beyond Codexspace: Potentialities of Literary Cybertext John Cayley 1996
Beyond Taxonomy: Digital Poetics and the Problem of Reading Talan Memmott 2006
Born-Again Bits: A Framework for Migrating Electronic Literature Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merilee Profit, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2005
Bridge Work Chris Funkhouser 2003
Close Reading New Media: Analyzing Electronic Literature 2003
Code.surface || Code.depth Rita Raley 2006
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Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory Marie-Laure Ryan 1999
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Cybertext Yearbook 2000 2000
Cybertext Yearbook 2001 2001
Cybertext Yearbook 2002-2003 2003
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Dali Clocks: Time Dimensions of Hypermedia Stephanie Strickland 2001
Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond Raine Koskimaa 2000
Digital Poetics or On the Evolution of Experimental Media Poetry Friedrich W. Block 2003
Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries Loss Pequeño Glazier 2001
Digital Poetry and Collaborative 'Wreadings' of Literary Texts Rui Torres 2004
Editor's Introduction: Reconfiguring Place and Space in New Media Writing Scott Rettberg 2006
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Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One 2006
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary N. Katherine Hayles 2008
Electronic Literature: What is it? N. Katherine Hayles 2007
Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2006
Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics Brian Kim Stefans 2003
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First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game 2006
Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis N. Katherine Hayles 2000
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Further notes on codework Alan Sondheim 2004
Generation Flash Lev Manovich 2002
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics N. Katherine Hayles 1999
Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1997
Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization George P. Landow 2006
Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1992
Hyperworks: On Digital Literature and Computer Games Anna Gunder 2004
In the Event of Text John Cayley, Markku Eskelinen 1999
Inner Workings: Code and Representations of Interiority in New Media Poetics John Cayley 2003
Interferences: [Net.Writing] and the Practice of Codework Rita Raley 2002
Into the Space of Previously Undrawable Diagrams: An Interview with Stephanie Strickland by Jaishree Odin Stephanie Strickland, Jaishree K. Odin 2002

Publishers referenced

Title Location
The MIT Press
55 Hayward Street
02142-1493 Boston
United States

Events referenced

Date Location
E-Poetry 2007 20.05.2007
Le cube Issy les Moulineaux, Paris 8 University
2 Rue de la Liberté
93200 Saint-Denis

Critical writing that references this

Title Author Publisher Yearsort descending
Poesin banar ny väg bland ettor och nollor Magnus Bremmer Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) 2007
Aesthetic Animism: Digital Poetry as Ontological Probe David Jhave Johnston 2011
A Short History of Electronic Literature and Communities in the Nordic Countries Hans Kristian Rustad Dichtung Digital 2012

Research Collection that references this Critical Writing:

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Patricia Tomaszek