Opening Notes on Digital Poetics


Our focus is on where and how digital literature and poetics fits in lit crit: what does each bring to the other? We're not studying digital literature itself for its own sake, for the interpretation of the work itself, but for the processes, the challenges, the new positions, the new and old understandings it brings to the study of lit crit.

Will it be digital literature or digital poetics? Both, depending on focus. The latter includes the former, as well as aesthetics. Digi Lit sometimes gets debated as a genre, and that's not what we're looking at.

It's nascent, sprawly, building with terms from post-structuralsim, deconstruction. New Criticism, Modernism, post-humanism. Terms from Computer Science and programming. Gaming and gaming studies: ludology (lots of theorists). Neologisms to articulate differences in concepts: ergodic (Espen Aarseth), cybertext (Aarseth again), hypertext (lots of theorists) technotext (N Katherine Hayles).

Still a small cadre of critics and artists at work.

Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.
Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics.

As above: Calls into question reading practices and aesthetics. Both of which are the basis for literary criticism and where we place literature and poetics in the culture.

Both of which make it disturbingly easy to read Print Classics. This easy practice is one of the first aspects that you'll find made difficult in digital literature.

Most digital works intentionally challenge reading, writing print, the page, language, literariness, poetics ... Adapt yourself to this by immersion. Learn to read.

how to study

method: close reading
  1. Describe
  2. Analyze using an explicit method / theory / focus on element: eg new crit, structuralism, feminism; use of figures, et al
  3. Interpret the significance of your analysis
  4. Evaluate, if you must

an exercise in close reading

Pound, In a Station of the Metro resents a challenge similar to what we encounter with digital lit: How do we make sense of this? Procedurally, that is. How are we to read this? First idea: take into account its materiality. Works like these demand a high level of reader interaction. Pressman, 52.

Imagism isn't about self-expression. It's about presenting the thing. We know that because that was pounds manifesto of the time. http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/pound/metro.htm

The work was published in various layouts

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals, on a wet, black bough.

Method

Describe - words, kinds of words, not a sentence, punctuation. Lines and layout. Repetition of words? Repetition of types of words. Rhythm, assonance. Structurally - syntactically - it's a rhetorical figure.

Analyze - once I bring in a figure, we're in analysis. Not ekphrasis, but comparison and NOT a metaphor. The structure argues against that.

Metonymy - substituting of cause - effect. But in this case, the entire process is presented.

So
Metalepsis - a present effect attributed to a remote cause.

Add this
Bring in the ideas of Vorticism and imagism that pound was working with at the time. Or bring in, as I'm doing, ideas of materiality from Pressman and Hayles.

Interpret - the connection: that reading imagist poetry, which in this case relies on and makes us of materiality and reliance of meaning on the thing tells us a lot about reading contemporary digital lit.

some examples

BLAST, vol 1. June 1914. PDF.
Mez codework at datableed
DAKOTA
Inkubus
Queneau sonnets
the dreamlife of letters

a couple of precursors

O Superman, Laurie Anderson
Language is a Virus

Digital modernist manifesto



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