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Letters That Matter: Electronic Literature Collection Vol 1

Critical Writing
Publication Type: 
Journal volume and issue: 
10 Sept. 2007
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

John Zuern considers the significance of the first volume of ELO's Electronic Literature Collection for the future of electronic arts.

(Source: ebr)

Pull Quotes: 

Whether or not "ELC" becomes, as I think it should, the universally recognized acronym for our most comprehensive, most painstakingly documented, and most intelligently designed resource for primary texts in electronic literature, the first volume of the Electronic Literature Organization's Electronic Literature Collection, edited by Katherine Hayles, Nick Monfort, Scott Rettberg, and Stephanie Strickland, will stand a monument to responsible (and admirably non-commercial) matter compilation.

No one who spends any time perusing this collection can come away with the impression that electronic literature is synonymous with hypertext, or with combinatorial experiments, or with kinetic typography, or with computer games, though even the most casual browser may well encounter in a single reading session all of these dimensions of the field, as individual examples as well as in various combinations in the many "hybrid" works featured in the collection.

Many of ELC 1's keywords appear to have been derived not so much from deductive (and reductive, predetermined) categories as from inductive (and provisional, emergent) observations of the distinctive qualities of individual works. While the collection's many genre- and technique-based keywords point critically

While we have gone a long way toward establishing criteria for naming and accounting for the material instantiation of electronic literature, I submit that we have not come sufficiently to grips with this other dimension of the experience of the literary; even naming it "mind," "consciousness," "reception," or "social relations of production" immediately encloses us in pre-posthuman philosophical traditions we might like to think we have shaken off.

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Jill Walker Rettberg