Learning to Throw Like Olympia: E-Lit and the Art of Failure

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Viewed next to print literature, e-lit appears as a poor copy, a replica(nt) lacking both the genius agency of modernism and the abject subjectivity of postmodernism. In this talk, I will use the concepts of re-territorialization (Deleuze and Guattari) and “the open” (Giorgio Agamben) to show how, like Hoffman’s automaton, the “born digital” is powerful precisely because it fails to deceive. Neither preserving nor directly opposing the conventions of print-lit, e-lit functions as a reflecting apparatus that unmasks language and meaning-making as machines through the revelation of its own machine-works. Using multifarious examples from the work of Alan Bigelow, Mez Breeze, Emily Short, Jason Nelson, and others, I will show how these re-inscribe obstruction, glitch, error, randomness and obsolescence as potentiality. In doing so, they repurpose the productive and reproductive functions of writing not for some finite end or product, but for play.

(Source: author's abstract)

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Jill Walker Rettberg