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

Critical writing referenced:

Title Author Year
Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2006
Matter of Time: Toward a Materialist Semiotics of Web Animation John David Zuern 2003
"Distance, Homelessness, Anonymity, and Insignificance": An Interview with Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Thomas Swiss, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries 2002
First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game 2006
Playable Media and Textual Instruments Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2005
New Media Poetry: Theory and Strategies Eric Vos 1996
Close Reading New Media: Analyzing Electronic Literature 2003
Digital Poetry and Collaborative 'Wreadings' of Literary Texts Rui Torres 2004
Ut Pictura Hyperpoesis: Spatial Form, Visuality, and the Digital Word John Tolva 1996
Making the Vniverse Stephanie Strickland, Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo 2003
Writing the Virtual: Eleven Dimensions of E-Poetry Stephanie Strickland 2006
Dali Clocks: Time Dimensions of Hypermedia Stephanie Strickland 2001
Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics Brian Kim Stefans 2003
From Byte to Inscription: An Interview with John Cayley by Brian Kim Stefans Brian Kim Stefans, John Cayley 2003
Further notes on codework Alan Sondheim 2004
Concrete Poetry: A World View 1968
Rhetorics of Surface and Depth in Digital Poetry Anna Katharina Schaffner, Andrew Michael Roberts 2006
The Code Looks Back: Flash Software, Virtual Spectators, and the Interactive Image Megan Sapnar 2002
Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory Marie-Laure Ryan 1999
The Interactive Diagram Sentence: Hypertext as a Medium of Thought Jim Rosenberg 1996

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 Datesort descending 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:

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Record posted by: 
Patricia Tomaszek