Database Narratives

Research Collection
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Database Narratives


This research collection is part of a collaboration between dr. Inge van de Ven and Hannah Ackermans, in which we examine the prominent database practice in the field of electronic literature. We study electronic literature databases from an approach we call digital hermeneutics. We oscillate in our considerations between text and context, part and whole, qualitative and quantitative. Drawing parallels between electronic literature databases and database narratives reveals the processes involving in building and interpreting databases.

This research collection brings together different creative works of electronic literature that use an explicit database format to convey a narrative. We examine the process of building the collection from a meta-perspective. Finding and documenting these works in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base is a scholarly practice to engage with databases. We interrogate: 1) the definition of databases by deciding which works fit our understanding of the umbrella term “database narrative”, 2) the technological and social implications of the structure of the Knowledge Base by adding and editing documentation, and 3) the broader practice of finding works of electronic literature, whether that is in electronic literature databases, sources in critical writings, or through recommendations in the electronic literature community.

We are planning to conduct close readings of three case studies from this collection (TBA). Embedded in a database, these works of electronic literature are chosen because they also offer a reflecting on the omnipresent practice of databases in digital culture. For each case study, we consider how scholarship and artistic practice entangle: scholars attempt to document and research a field, and artists interrogate the database structure in works. The production of databases develops the field, which leads to more (varied) production of electronic literature.

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Hannah Ackermans