Writing Coastlines: Locating Narrative Resonance in Transatlantic Communications Networks

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The term ‘writing coastlines’ implies a double meaning. The word ‘writing’ refers both to the act of writing and to that which is written. The act of writing translates aural, physical, mental and digital processes into marks, actions, utterances, and speech-acts. The intelligibility of that which is written is intertwined with both the context of its production and of its consumption. The term ‘writing coastlines’ may refer to writing about coastlines, but the coastlines themselves are also writing insofar as they are translating physical processes into marks and actions. Coastlines are the shifting terrains where land and water meet, always neither land nor water and always both. The physical processes enacted by waves and winds may result in marks and actions associated with both erosion and accretion. Writing coastlines are edges, ledges, legible lines caught in the double bind of simultaneously writing and erasing. These in-between places are liminal spaces, both points of departure and sites of exchange. One coastline implies another, implores a far shore. The dialogue implied by this entreaty intrigues me. The coastlines of the United Kingdom and those of Atlantic Canada are separated by three and a half thousand kilometres of ocean. Yet for centuries, fishers, sailors, explorers, migrants, emigrants, merchants, messengers, messages, packets, ships, submarine cables, aeroplanes, satellite signals and wireless radio waves have attempted to bridge this distance. These comings and goings have left traces. Generations of transatlantic migrations have engendered networks of communications. As narratives of place and displacement travel across, beyond, and through these networks, they become informed by the networks’ structures and inflected with the syntax and grammar of the networks’ code languages. Writing coastlines interrogates this in-between space with a series of questions: When does leaving end and arriving begin? When does the emigrant become the immigrant? What happens between call and response? What narratives resonate in the spaces between places separated by time, distance, and ocean yet inextricably linked by generations of immigration? This thesis takes an overtly interdisciplinary approach to answering these questions. This practice-led research refers to and infers from the corpora and associated histories, institutions, theoretical frameworks, modes of production, venues, and audiences of the visual, media, performance, and literary arts, as well as from the traditionally more scientific realms of cartography, navigation, network archaeology, and creative computing. "Writing Coastlines" navigates the emerging and occasionally diverging theoretical terrains of electronic literature, locative narrative, media archaeology, and networked art through the methodology of performance writing pioneered at Dartington College of Art (Bergvall 1996, Hall 2008). Central to this methodology is an iterative approach to writing, which interrogates the performance of writing in and across contexts toward an extended compositional process. "Writing Coastlines" will contribute to a theoretical framework and methodology for the creation and dissemination of networked narrative structures for stories of place and displacement that resonate between sites, confusing and confounding boundaries between physical and digital, code and narrative, past and future, home and away. "Writing Coastlines" will contribute to the creation of a new narrative context from which to examine a multi-site-specific place-based identity by extending the performance writing methodology to incorporate digital literature and locative narrative practices, by producing and publicly presenting a significant body of creative and critical work, and by developing a mode of critical writing which intertwines practice with theory. (Source: Author's Abstract)

Critical writing referenced:

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
JavaScript 1995

Publishers referenced:

Title Location
Kelly Writer's House
3805 Locust Walk
19104-6150 Philadelphia , PA
United States
Pennsylvania US
SFMOMA: Open Space
94103 San Francisco , CA
United States
California US
Boulder Pavement
The Banff Centre
Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff , AB
Alberta CA
Performance Research
Journal of Writing in Creative Practice
United Kingdom
mcd Musiques & Cultures Digitales

Events referenced:

Title Datesort descending Location
In(ter)ventions: Literary practice at the Edge 18.02.2010
The Banff Centre Banff , AB
Alberta CA
ELMCIP Seminar on Digital Poetics and the Present 09.12.2011
University of Amsterdam Amsterdam
Electronic Literature Exhibit at the 2012 MLA Convention 05.01.2012
Washington State Convention Center Seattle , WA
United States
Washington US
ELMCIP Seminar on Digital Textuality with/in Performance 03.05.2012
Arnolfini Bristol
United Kingdom
PW12 Performance Writing Weekend 04.05.2012
Arnolfini Bristol
United Kingdom
&Now 2012: New Writing in Paris: Exchanges and Cross-Fertilizations 06.06.2012
Université de la Sorbonne Paris
Translating E-Literature 12.06.2012
Université of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis Paris
Université of Paris 7 Diderot Denis Paris
Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints: The ELO 2012 Media Arts Show 20.06.2012
West Virginia University Morgantown , WV
United States
West Virginia US
ELMCIP Conference on Remediating the Social 01.11.2012
United Kingdom
Avenues of Access: An Exhibit & Online Archive of New 'Born Digital' Literature 03.01.2013
Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center Boston , MA
United States
Massachusetts US


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J. R. Carpenter