Textual entanglements: a performative approach towards digital literature

Critical Writing
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2016
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This thesis conducts a critical investigation into digital literature—a genre of literary expression that is integrated with, and articulated using, digital computing systems and infrastructures. Specifically, it presents a framework for evaluating the expressive capacities of this genre as it relates to particular conceptions of knowledge-making in the contemporary technocultural environment. This framework reveals how the generation of critical knowledge concerning digital literature, as crystallised through a reader’s material engagements with specific works, enacts a ‘performative’ conception of knowing and being, in which the observable world is treated as emerging in the real time of practice—as being articulated through the entanglement of human and nonhuman agencies, rather than existing as a fixed array of passive, unchanging primitives. Digital literature is presented subsequently as a model of this greater performative vision—as a means of evaluating the structures and processes that manifest it, particularly within digital systems, and for assessing its practical and political implications for art and culture more broadly. In so doing, this thesis aims to justify the value of engaging digital literature from a standpoint that is more expressly political, contending not only that these texts are revealing of key processes shaping digital activities, artefacts, and environments, but are enacting alternative vectors of thought and practice concerning them.

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HÃ¥kon Dale Askeland