Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media

Critical Writing
167 + 1 CD
All Rights reserved
Record Status: 
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

Critical writing referenced:

Title Author Year
From Line to Constellation Eugen Gomringer 1956
A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate Theodor Holm Nelson 1965
Synesthesia and Intersenses: Intermedia Dick Higgins 1965
Concrete Poetry: A World View 1968
The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts Umberto Eco 1984
Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing Jay David Bolter 1991
The Textual Condition Jerome McGann 1991
Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1992
Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media Marjorie Perloff 1992
The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts Richard Lanham 1993
Beyond Codexspace: Potentialities of Literary Cybertext John Cayley 1996
New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies Philippe Bootz, Jim Rosenberg, E. M. de Melo e Castro, John Cayley, Eduardo Kac, Eric Vos 1996
The Interactive Diagram Sentence: Hypertext as a Medium of Thought Jim Rosenberg 1996
New Media Poetry: Theory and Strategies Eric Vos 1996
Ut Pictura Hyperpoesis: Spatial Form, Visuality, and the Digital Word John Tolva 1996
Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1997
From Text to Hypertext: Decentering the Subject in Fiction, Film, the Visual Arts, and Electronic Media Silvio Gaggi 1997
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Cybertext Poetry: Effects of Digital Media on the Creation of Poetic Literature Chris Funkhouser 1997
Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Jacques Derrida 1998

Platforms referenced:

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

Publishers referenced:

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

Events referenced:

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

Research Collection that references this Critical Writing:

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Patricia Tomaszek