Digital Literary Arts - Scandinavian E-Texts: Criticism, Theory, and Practice

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Electronic literature (e-lit) constitutes one of the most innovative and exciting literary forms occurring today; it is the unique child of this new technological age. Scandinavian e-lit is no exception, yet it has frequently been overlooked by literary academics in both the United States and Scandinavia. This dissertation investigates how Scandinavian e-lit engages with printed Scandinavian literature, and how critical analysis of Scandinavian literature can benefit from an understanding of e-lit. In this dissertation I argue that, far from relegation to the outer margins of Scandinavian literary research and studies, Scandinavian e-lit, and scholarship on such works, ought to occupy a central position in the field, alongside print-based counterparts. Such a shift in focus would create a new vantage point from which Scandinavianists could analyze canonical and contemporary works of print-based Scandinavian literature.

Chapter one addresses the effect of the corporeal body on the electronic text and the reading experience, while the second chapter examines Scandinavian works of e-lit to investigate how these resemble and/or distinguish themselves from codex-based literature. Chapter three provides a detailed, close reading of Primärdirektivet/The Prime Directive by Swedish poet-artist Johannes Heldén, as an example of analytical approaches to works with multi-modal capacities. Finally, chapter four discusses the institutional support, and new analytical tools Scandinavian literary scholars are developing to effectively research, evaluate, and teach this form of literature. In short, this dissertation explores what Scandinavian e-lit is, what its relationship to conventional literature is, how it functions, and how we can understand it.

My hope is that future Scandinavian literary scholarship, and academic study will not only incorporate works of Scandinavian e-lit into these activities, but that their inclusion will become routine. Integrating the study of e-lit into established literary practice not only offers opportunities to understand literary movements, themes, styles and relationships among works of Scandinavian literature (as its print-based counterpart does), but it also affords the opportunity to reconsider the nature and potential of literature itself. As such, it is a bright field of potential, as well as an innovative, fascinating form of contemporary literary art.

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Anika Carlotta Stoll