Digital Literature: Theoretical and Aesthetic Reflections

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

The emergence of a new phenomenon – digital literature – within the field of
literary studies calls for the reorganization and creation of new theoretical and
analytical repertoires. As models of communication change, so do
reception and production processes accompanying these changes. Within these
altered scenarios, the dissertation Digital Literature: Theoretical and Aesthetic
Reflections is a response to the aesthetic and theoretical challenges brought on by
computer-based literature. As a methodological strategy, the dissertation articulates
recent trends in the theory of digital aesthetics – remediation (BOLTER),
eventilization (HAYLES), correlations of performativity, intermediality and
interactivity with meaning-driven analysis (SIMANOWSKI), Medienumbrüche
(GENDOLLA & SCHÄFER) – with theories of production of presence
(GUMBRECHT), autopoietic communicative models (LUHMANN) and closereadings
of digital works. By scripting a dialogue with key theorists from print
literary theory as well as new media theorists and artists in the burgeoning field,
the thesis offers conceptual and theoretical contributions to the formulation of a
poetics of new media.

Pull Quotes: 

As it was clear in Text Rain, highly complex digital objects will often demand and benefit from both hermeneutical and non-hermeneutical “readings”. Despite their lexical natures – and the interpretative responses elicited by them – their physical apprehension generates material effects of presence, which are not to be ignored. Borrowing from theorist Andrew Darley’s terminology, Roberto Simanowski speaks of a shift in spectatorship modalities, from readers concerned with conceptual and symbolic attributions to spectators veered towards corporeal stimulation (SIMANOWSKI, 2011). Always a believer in de-paradoxifying attitudes, I will claim the following: (a) In digital installations, the effects of physicality encompass an increasing sense of self-awareness on the interactor’s part, a surrendering to a state of relaxation akin to the focused serenity of waiting for a revelation Gumbrecht ascribes to Gelassenheit (GUMBRECHT, 2004). (b) Profiting from this sensory and cognitive oscillation, mixed reality digital installations subvert hermeneutic order even more drastically than non-digital installations would, for in the latter the matter/immaterial modulation is not manifest. Moreover, (c) I suspect that this increased awareness of corporeality and embodiment has not emerged of its own accord. It is not a spontaneous happenstance, but rather represents a cultural tendency that has gained currency as an aesthetic trend because it fulfills certain pre-cognitive needs not fully addressed by the hermeneutical/metaphysical paradigm. It is no wonder that this reactive sensory/affective technological turn has led several authors and researchers of new media to speak of biometric sensors, cortex-encased protoplasts, cyborg bodies and prototyping platforms, promoting a shift away from visual interfaces to proprioceptive interfaces.

Critical writing referenced

Title Author Yearsort descending
The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin William S. Burroughs 1961
The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge Jean-François Lyotard 1984
A Cyborg Manifesto Donna Haraway 1985
Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing Jay David Bolter 1991
The End of Books Robert Coover 1992
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1997
Remediation: Understanding New Media Jay David Bolter, Richard Grusin 1999
The Code is not the Text (unless it is the Text) John Cayley 2002
The Language of New Media Lev Manovich 2002
The New Media Reader 2003
Close Reading New Media: Analyzing Electronic Literature 2003
Concrete Poetry in Digital Media: Its Predecessors, its Presence and its Future Roberto Simanowski 2004
My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts N. Katherine Hayles 2005
Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization George P. Landow 2006
The Time of Digital Poetry: From Object to Event N. Katherine Hayles 2006
Time, Code, Language: New Media Poetics and Programmed Signification John Cayley 2006
New Media Poetics: As We May Think/How to Write Adalaide Morris 2006
Six Problems in Search of a Solution: The Challenge of Cybertext Theory and Ludology to Literary Theory Markku Eskelinen 2007
Holopoetry, Biopoetry and Digital Literature: Close Reading and Terminological Debates Roberto Simanowski 2007
Playing With Signs: Towards an Aesthetic Theory of Net Literature Peter Gendolla, Jörgen Schäfer 2007
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary N. Katherine Hayles 2008
Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2009
Kissing the Steak: The Poetry of Text Generators Chris Funkhouser 2009
Figures in the Interface: Comparative Methods in the Study of Digital Literature John David Zuern 2009
Reading the Discursive Spaces of Text Rain, Transmodally Francisco J. Ricardo 2009
List(en)ing Post Rita Raley 2009
What is and Toward What End Do We Read Digital Literature? Roberto Simanowski 2010
From Concrete to Digital: The Reconceptualization of Poetic Space Anna Katharina Schaffner 2010
The Gravity of the Leaf: Phenomenologies of Literary Inscription in Media-Constituted Diegetic Worlds John Cayley 2010
The Reader, the Player and the Executable Poetics: Towards a Literature Beyond the Book Giselle Beiguelman 2010
Reading Digital Literature: A Subject Between Media and Methods Roberto Simanowski 2010
Epistemology of Disruptions: Thoughts on the Operative Logic of Media Semantics Ludwig Jäger 2010
Reading (in) the Net: Aesthetic Experience in Computer-Based Media Jörgen Schäfer, Peter Gendolla 2010
Event and Meaning: Reading Interactive Installations in the Light of Art History Roberto Simanowski 2010
Approaches to Digital Literature: Temporal Dynamics and Cyborg Authors Raine Koskimaa 2010
Introduction: Juncture and Form in New Media Criticism Francisco J. Ricardo 2010
Reassembling the Literary: Toward a Theoretical Framework for Literary Communication in Computer-Based Media Jörgen Schäfer 2010
Alphabet on the Move: Digital Poetry and the Realm of Language Janez Strehovec 2010
Digital Art and Meaning: Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations Roberto Simanowski 2011

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Luciana Gattass