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
Jim Rosenberg’s Diagram Poems Series #3: A Few Preliminary Notes on Translation Issues Arnaud Regnauld, Hélène Perrin 2007
Curating Ambiguity: The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One Scott Rettberg, Franz Thalmair 2007
Editor's Introduction: Reconfiguring Place and Space in New Media Writing Scott Rettberg 2006
Code.surface || Code.depth Rita Raley 2006
The Digital Loop: Feedback and Recurrence Rita Raley 2002
Editor's Introduction: Writing.3D Rita Raley 2006
Interferences: [Net.Writing] and the Practice of Codework Rita Raley 2002
Writing with the Code: A Digital Poetics Søren Bro Pold 2001
Screening the Page/Paging the Screen: Digital Poetics and the Differential Text Marjorie Perloff 2006
Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media Marjorie Perloff 1992
Into the Space of Previously Undrawable Diagrams: An Interview with Stephanie Strickland by Jaishree Odin Stephanie Strickland, Jaishree K. Odin 2002
A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate Theodor Holm Nelson 1965
New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories 2006
New Media Poetics: As We May Think/How to Write Adalaide Morris 2006
Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature Nick Montfort, Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2004
Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction Nick Montfort 2005
Beyond Taxonomy: Digital Poetics and the Problem of Reading Talan Memmott 2006
The Textual Condition Jerome McGann 1991
Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web Jerome McGann 2001
Generation Flash Lev Manovich 2002
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Patricia Tomaszek