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
The Language of New Media Lev Manovich 2000
Born-Again Bits: A Framework for Migrating Electronic Literature Alan Liu, David G. Durand, Nick Montfort, Merilee Profit, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2005
The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts Richard Lanham 1993
Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1992
Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1997
Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization George P. Landow 2006
Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond Raine Koskimaa 2000
Lucid Mapping: Information Landscaping and Three-Dimensional Writing Spaces Matthew G. Kirschenbaum 1999
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
Othermindedness: the Emergence of Network Culture Michael Joyce 2000
Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics Michael Joyce 2002
Moving Text in Avant-garde Poetry: Towards a Poetics of Textual Motion Teemu Ikonen 2003
Synesthesia and Intersenses: Intermedia Dick Higgins 1965
Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One 2006
Electronic Literature: What is it? N. Katherine Hayles 2007
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary N. Katherine Hayles 2010
Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis N. Katherine Hayles 2000
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics N. Katherine Hayles 1999
My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts N. Katherine Hayles 2005
Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: Rethinking Signification in New Media N. Katherine Hayles 2004
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Patricia Tomaszek