Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media

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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

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
Concrete Poetry: A World View 1968
Curating Ambiguity: The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One Scott Rettberg, Franz Thalmair 2007
Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory Marie-Laure Ryan 1999
Cybertext Poetry: Effects of Digital Media on the Creation of Poetic Literature Chris Funkhouser 1997
Cybertext Yearbook 2000 2000
Cybertext Yearbook 2001 2001
Cybertext Yearbook 2002-2003 2003

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
FORTRAN 1957
Flash 1996
BASIC 1964
APL (A Programming Language) 1964

Publishers referenced:

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

Events referenced:

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

Research Collection that references this Critical Writing:

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Record posted by: 
Patricia Tomaszek