Rev. of Beyond the Screen. Transformations of Literary Structures, Interfaces and Genres

Critical Writing
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By stressing the notion of electronic literature, the editors make a clear statement on the (relative) autonomy of textual and more specifically literary production within the broader field of new media studies and digital culture studies. Despite its apparent simplicity, such a statement is courageous and refreshing, since it goes against the grain of the current doxa of media hybridization and the blurring of boundaries between all the media and sign systems that can be communicated through a digital channel.

In the last section, “Beyond the Library” –for me the most interesting part of the whole book–, Schäfer and Gendolla make room for very basic but also very essential interrogations on the storage, preservation, archiving, reproduction, editing, disclosing, classifying, and publishing of electronic sources.

If the strong insistence on e-writing’s ‘literariness’ should be welcomed, a minor point of the volume is that too many essays, however interesting they may be in other regards, do not respect enough this thematic focus, expanding the scope of research too much in the direction of visual arts, new media arts, performance arts, etc. It is clear that such reframing of digital literature is useful and perhaps inescapable, but it appears a little at odds with the strong claim in front of a more strictly literary approach.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen