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

Critical Writing
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2009
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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)

Critical writing referenced:

Title Author Year
The Gaming Situation Markku Eskelinen
The Moving Word: Towards the Theory of Web Literary Objects Janez Strehovec
Le plaisir du texte Roland Barthes 1973
Literary Machines: The report on, and of, Project Xanadu concerning word processing, electronic publishing, hypertext, thinkertoys, tomorrow's intellectual revolution, and certain other topics including knowledge, education and freedom Theodor Holm Nelson 1981
Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1992
“How Do I Stop This Thing?” Closure And Indeterminacy In Interactive Narratives J. Yellowlees Douglas 1994
Wittgenstein, Genette, and the Reader's Narrative in Hypertext Gunnar Liestøl 1994
New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies Philippe Bootz, Jim Rosenberg, E. M. de Melo e Castro, John Cayley, Eduardo Kac, Eric Vos 1996
Poetic Machinations Philippe Bootz 1996
The Structure of Hypertext Activity Jim Rosenberg 1996
Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation Gérard Genette 1997
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
A Clash between Game and Narrative Jesper Juul 1998
Omission impossible: the ergodics of time Markku Eskelinen 1998
Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace Janet H. Murray 1998
Piecing Together and Tearing Apart: Finding the Story in afternoon Jill Walker Rettberg 1999
Aporia and Epiphany in Doom and The Speaking Clock Espen Aarseth 1999
Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond Raine Koskimaa 2000
What you click is what you get? - Die Stellung von Autoren und Lesern in interaktiver digitaler Literatur Anja Rau 2000
Cybertext palimpsests - literature to the nth degree Markku Eskelinen 2000
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Scott Rettberg