Why ‘But is it e-lit?’ Is a Ridiculous Question: The Case for Online Journals as Organic, Evolving Works of Digital Literature

Abstract (in English): 

Cordite Poetry Review, an Australian journal of poetry and poetics, was founded in 1997 as a print journal but since 2001 has appeared only online. Over the last ten years, as the magazine has grown in size and reach, the question of Cordite’s status as a journal has become more vexed. Can it be regarded as a ‘proper’ literary journal, in the way that other, offline journals are? Is it truly electronic, given the relative absence of works on the site that explore the possibilities of the online space? Or are these merely ridiculous questions, the posing of which reflects a pre-online hierarchy of prestige?

If we assume that any work or collection of works available online is automatically
digital in nature, then the issue instead becomes one of whether or not sites like Cordite function as
organic, interconnected and hypertextual spaces for creative expression. This presentation will explore the evolving nature of the Cordite site by utilizing a series of screenshots and ten improvised oneminute ‘speed’ descriptions of the site’s contents from 2001-2011. The aim is to demonstrate the highly complex and sometimes chaotic nature of journals and magazines in the online realm, and to therefore argue for a rejection of the binary characterization of new media literature communities as either ‘electronic’ or ‘static’. In doing so, it is hoped that the presentation will stimulate discussion of the ways in which electronic sites for literature are unique in the way that they embody the contradictory capacities to organically evolve, mutate and disappear.

(Source: Author's abstract, 2012 ELO Conference site)

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Eric Dean Rasmussen