First works of electronic literature …
At the ELMCIP workshop on electronic literature pedagogy held in Karlskrona, Sweden in June 2011, Martin Arvebro and I interviewed a number of participants about their experiences with reading and teaching e-lit. Here are some of their responses.
Can you remember the first work of electronic literature you ever read?
“It was [the work of] mez breeze, because I was really into mailing lists and I was really just amazed by her writing.”
Renee Turner, artist and course director at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam
“Yes, it was Olia Lialina, it was probably back in the late 1990s, a text and image piece called, if I remember rightly, ‘When my Boyfriend Returned From the War’ [ed: actual title: ‘My boyfriend came back from the war.’]. And I was fascinated by that combination of text, image and interaction, and it just seemed to open up all sorts of possibilities.”
Jerome Fletcher, associate professor of performance writing at University College Falmouth, UK.
“Well the first work of electronic literature that I ever really loved – which is a different thing – was Caitlin Fisher’s ‘These Waves of Girls’, which I came across in, I guess 2002, via the Electronic Literature Organization conference which took place in Los Angeles that year. She won a prize at that conference, and her work was the first work that I’d seen that really had any appeal for me as a work of electronic literature. I liked it because of the layers of stories in it, and the way that she used music and images, whereas older works – which were, you know the classic hypertext fiction, which was just text – just absolutely left me cold, because I thought what was the point of using a computer if you didn’t use the computer’s multimedia capabilities, even then, a decade ago.”
Kate Pullinger, digital storyteller and Reader in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, Leicester UK
“I think it was a German hyperfection “Zeit für die Bombe” by Susanne Berkenheger – that must have been 1999, or 2000, or something like that. And, well, in a way I was fascinated by it because I didn’t have any – or much – experience with computer-based literature before, but also found it rather banal in a way – you very soon realised what the alternative paths were, I didn’t find it a very interesting story. But I realised that there was something happening which might be interesting for the years to come.”
Jörgen Schäfer, research fellow at the University of Siegen, Germany
“Oh I don’t think that I remember, actually. I remember that it was French – so probably it was Philippe Bootz’s work, but I don’t remember which one, to be honest. And the first thing that I thought was like: what is this? And I needed some time to understand it – oh, maybe it’s a poem. But I can remember that I started immediately to look for other pieces …”
Giovanna di Rosario, lecturer in digital literature at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland
“I can’t remember the first but I can remember taking a seminar in 1994 with Professor Katherine Hayles, and I read the works of several people in that seminar, for example Stephanie Strickland’s poetry that she had online, and there have been friends over the years and I would read their early works. Scott Rettberg, his collaborative fiction, The Unknown. These are some of the early ones, and work by work by Rob Wittig, Shelley Jackson, Margie Luesebrink. But you know in all of these cases, it’s not that I went out looking for electronic literature, it’s that I was just doing my literary work and some of the people who were also involved in that area were doing some experimentation in new media.”
Joseph Tabbi, Professor in Literature at the University of Illinois in Chicago
Many of the works referenced in this article can be found in the, an ever-expanding database of creative works, criticism of electronic literature, video documentation, teaching resources and much more.
- 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones