Travels in Cybertextuality. The Challenge of Ergodic Literature and Ludology to Literary Theory

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The dissertation’s main point of departure is the clash between explicit and implicit presuppositions, conceptualisations and generalisations in print-oriented literary theoretical paradigms and a plenitude of empirically verifiable anomalies and counter-examples to them found in digital and ergodic works of literature. The behaviour of these counter-examples is explained by cybertext theory that addresses the often neglected issue of the variety of literary media. Both the empirical counter-examples and the empirically verifiable differences in the behaviour of literary media allow us to expand and modify literary theories to suit not just one traditionally privileged media position but all of them. Therefore, in the first half of the dissertation, literary theory and narratology are viewed and modified from the perspective of slightly revised cybertext theory. In this process theories of ergodic and non-ergodic literature are integrated more closely and several so far non-theorized ways of manipulating narrative time, regulating narrative information, and generating narrative instances are located and theorized. In the second half of the dissertation, the role of cybertext theory and the position of ergodic literature are reversed as they are viewed from the perspectives provided by ludology and game ontology. This is necessary to better situate ergodic literature in the continuum of other ergodic phenomena and between interpretative and dominantly configurative practices. To this end a provisional and formal paradigm of ludology is first constructed and synthesized from previous ludological research and then applied to newer forms and genres of ergodic literature such as textual instruments.

(Source: University of Jyväskylä)

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Scott Rettberg