Electronic Literature

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Entry on electronic literature providing a history of the term and exploring its contended usage.

Electronic literature is a generalized term used to describe a wide variety of computational literary practices beneath one broad umbrella, defined by the Electronic Literature Organization as works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.”

The term is somewhat fraught, and often challenged as not sufficiently or accurately descriptive to suit the more taxonomically minded of its scholars and practitioners. By way of reduction and assemblage, one might patch together definitions of “electronic” and “literature” in a way that makes some sense: “electronic literature is the result or product of literary activity carried or performed using the computer.” But of course, that would leave us with most literary activity that takes place in the contemporary era.  What is really meant by “electronic literature” is that the computer (or the network context) is in some way essential to the performance or carrying-out of the literary activity in question.

(Source: Author's introduction)

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Scott Rettberg