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Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media

Critical Writing
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2007
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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 http://stream.humlab.umu.se/index.php?streamName=bornDigital

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Patricia Tomaszek