Electronic Poetry: Understanding Poetry in the Digital Environment

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Abstract (in English): 

This study has as its main research object the new forms of poetry based on informatics and it is located in the fields of critical theory, hermeneutics, semiotics of the text and digital culture.

These new forms emerging from the meeting of poetry and informatics are collectively called Digital Poetry. Digital poetry – also referred to as E-poetry, short for electronic poetry – refers to a wide range of approaches to poetry that all have in common the prominent and crucial use of computers or digital technologies and other devices. Digital poetry does not concern itself with the digitalization of printed works, it relates to digital texts. This work studies only electronic poems created to be read on the computer accessible online. It offers the close-readings of 35 e-poems in 5 different languages (English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish).

How does electronic poetry deal with the possibilities uncovered by the new digital medium? A medium that easily allows us to redefine the writing space and the reading time; a medium that allows us to include images and sounds alongside the graphic text, adding also motion and creating new kinds of temporalities; and, finally, that allows the text to be reactive and interactive?

The distinction between digital and printed media hides a complex history. A full comprehension of the movement under consideration, as a concept in literature, requires clarification of the historical development from the “movement analogies” in printed literature (innovations in the literary movements and avant-gardes) to the literary innovations (poetic and artistic) in the Internet era.

The thesis has been organized around three deeply interconnected approaches: historical, descriptive and analytic. The first approach judges the “novelty” of the phenomenon within a historical context. The descriptive work to be done on the corpus is fundamental in order to establish a sort of typology of e-poetry and, consequently, to be able to start the analytic work.

The aim of the study is on the one hand to categorize electronic poems in order to make them more approachable and understandable as objects of study; and on the other it is to provide those who are interested in this new area of study with a sort of critical anthology of electronic poetry.

(Source: Author's abstract)

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Eric Dean Rasmussen