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:

Titlesort descending Author Year
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Dali Clocks: Time Dimensions of Hypermedia Stephanie Strickland 2001
Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond Raine Koskimaa 2000
Digital Poetics or On the Evolution of Experimental Media Poetry Friedrich W. Block 2003
Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries Loss Pequeño Glazier 2001
Digital Poetry and Collaborative 'Wreadings' of Literary Texts Rui Torres 2004
Editor's Introduction: Reconfiguring Place and Space in New Media Writing Scott Rettberg 2006
Editor's Introduction: Writing.3D Rita Raley 2006
Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One 2006
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary N. Katherine Hayles 2010
Electronic Literature: What is it? N. Katherine Hayles 2007
Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2006
Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics Brian Kim Stefans 2003
Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing, and Visual Poetics Johanna Drucker 1998
First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game 2006
Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis N. Katherine Hayles 2000
From Byte to Inscription: An Interview with John Cayley by Brian Kim Stefans Brian Kim Stefans, John Cayley 2003
From Line to Constellation Eugen Gomringer 1956
From Text to Hypertext: Decentering the Subject in Fiction, Film, the Visual Arts, and Electronic Media Silvio Gaggi 1997
Further notes on codework Alan Sondheim 2004
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Patricia Tomaszek