The Programming Era: Building Literary Networks Through Peer-to-Peer Review
A noted literary scholar, Mark McGurl, has dubbed the postwar period in American literary history “The Program Era.” This phrase alludes to the fact that after World-War II most American literary production occurred in and around creative writing programs. Today, electronic literature continues the trend of literature’s institutionalization within higher education systems. E-lit literalizes the concept of “program” fiction inasmuch as its authors must also be adept at coding and programming. Taking the systematic coupling of literary art and higher-educational institutions as a necessary given, what can we—i.e. the authors, artists, critics, coders, scholars, students, writers and readers thinking at the interface of these social systems—do to create environments in which e-lit can flourish?
One answer is to make these environments networked and open-access, and in so doing promote a model of sharing knowledge, the academic gift economy, that bypasses conservative paternalism and neoliberal corporatization, which undermine higher education and literary culture by emphasizing training elites and making profits. To actualize the potential of open-access publishing for e-lit, however, requires a genuine exchange of knowledge: new media writers need to follow academic debates, and literary scholars and critics need to keep up with aesthetic and technoscientific developments.
In my talk, I will discuss a few ways that the Electronic Book Review’s (ebr) system of peer-to-peer review provides a networked publishing environment for conducting and archiving these critical exchanges. Over time, and provided writers participate in this gift economy, such collaborative exchanges will help to define e-lit and, more broadly, the contemporary literary field in what could be The Programming Era. In presenting ebr’s peer-to-peer review system, I intend to explain how it should work in theory and to solicit advice from the audience on ways it might be improved.
(Source: author's abstract)
Critical writing referenced