E-Literature Bound to Platforms: Exploring Opportunities for Narrative Connection and Disconnection

Abstract (in English): 

Recent pandemic-imposed restrictions on face-to-face exchanges have required that we find new ways to connect, often through networked platforms. Without classrooms, labs, and conference environments, ELO has embraced platforms such as Discord and Zoom for communication, and has also looked to online platforms for collaborative writing.

As we contemplate how platforms can keep us connected with our work and with each other, as well as the ways they may limit our interactions and thus arguably “disconnect” us, this panel explores what happens when e-literature—as research, practice, and field—is bound to platforms. E-literature scholarship and creative works that do not have the opportunity for in-person exchange provoke re-examinations of platform affordances and limitations. We ask: how may platforms may shape e-literature through their pre-set parameters, interfaces, and infrastructures? What are the promises and perils of platform-specific e-literature? Can we bring attention to platform through works of e-literature? Led by Marjorie C. Luesebrink, five speakers will answer these questions.

Lai-Tze Fan will trace the platform of a work of e-literature to its infrastructural origins. Nick Montfort’s generative poem Round (2013) is accompanied by a Note that describes the computational processes behind the poem. Fan will trace the specific hardware components’ production, manufacturing, assembly, and natural resource origins that support Round; in so doing, she provides an ecological understanding of the physical platforms that support e-literature.

Will Luers will sketch out some principles for a theory of recombinant fiction by exploring algorithmic flux (scripted variability) as something experiential within the digital text itself. His question for authors and readers of platform-based fiction production is: why is this play of forces between chaos and order thematically and formally important? Luers argues that algorithmic flux in digital fiction has a history, but that it presently lacks a theory and poetics for contemporary practice.

Erik Loyer will examine Google Sheets for how it enables users to treat spreadsheets as databases which can drive whole applications, effectively turning documents into platforms. He asks: what happens when we apply the same approach to digital narrative, giving individual stories the potential to function as their own platforms? Drawing on his experience developing creative tools for the digital humanities, digital comics, and e-lit, Loyer will sketch out some of the potentials and pitfalls of this mode of creation, and how our practices might better encourage it.

Christy Sanford reflects upon the processes for combining images and texts in some of her creative works. Sanford finds herself prompted by various platforms and platform-based texts around her, noting that in order to combine images and text, she needs technology’s assistance and inspiration to let unique characteristics of programs and platforms contribute to the development of her work.

Finally, Caitlin Fisher will discuss the promises and perils of disconnection and connection inside VR platforms that support literary and artistic co-creation. As we consider the use of virtual environments and spaces in place of in-person meetings and engagements, Fisher explores the futures of these platforms as a novel means of creative exchange.


ELO 2021: Platforms & Software 5, May 28

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Milosz Waskiewicz