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Review: Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- & Hybrid Writing As Contemporary Art, ed. Steve Tomasula. Alabama UP, 2022

Steve Tomasula’s robust new anthology delivers its readers a dazzling variety of aesthetic artifacts, as the list after the title’s colon suggests. The diversity across its 500+ pages and 14+ hours of online content separates Conceptualisms from collections of a more mainstream bent. He has gathered online animations, recorded performances, and interactive platforms along with experimental works of fiction, essays, and poetry; in the collection’s last section, we see a transcript, a legal summary, a grant proposal, and a contract, all of which Tomasula argues can be classed as literature (while also proposing that the entries raise the question of […]
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Steve Tomasula

Steve Tomasula is the author of the novels The Book of Portraiture (FC2); VAS: An Opera in Flatland (University of Chicago Press), an acclaimed novel of the biotech revolution; TOC: A New-Media Novel (FC2/University of Alabama Press); and most recently, IN&OZ (University of Chicago Press). Essays on body art, literature and culture can be found in Data Made Flesh (Routledge), Musing the Mosaic (SUNY), Leonardo (M.I.T.), and numerous magazines both here and in Europe. He holds a doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame. In addition […]

Languages of Fear in Steve Tomasula’s VAS, an Opera in Flatland

Square, the main character in VAS, is to undergo a vasectomy, as required by his wife who has gone through too many problems with pregnancy. His fear at the prospect of losing the highly emblematic reproductive function mingles with philosophical musings about the manipulation of bodies and technological advance, with its consequences on our relationship to space and time. Like most of his contemporaries, Square feels trapped in a whirlpool of acceleration, distances fading away as communication means develop. VAS – which possibly is the very novel that Square is writing – conveys a criticism of man’s illusory mastery and […]
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An Interview with Steve Tomasula

Kiki Benzon: Some contextualizing questions about TOC. What motivated you to move from the codex print narrative to a multimedia format? What were you trying to achieve there that you thought couldn’t be done in a conventional book? Steve Tomasula: It dates back to my earlier work. I was working on The Book of Portraiture and VAS was supposed to have been the last chapter of that book. To me it’s all one novel about the history of representation, so to speak. It starts off with writing in sand, the first surface, and ends up with writing on skin, the last […]

A Video Interview with Steve Tomasula by Jhave

Steve Tomasula “is the author of the novels The Book of Portraiture (FC2/University of Alabama Press); IN & OZ (University of Chicago Press); VAS: An Opera in Flatland (University of Chicago Press), an acclaimed novel of the biotech revolution; and most recently, TOC: A New-Media Novel (FC2/University of Alabama Press).” In VAS, Tomasula weaves fertility concerns into a priapic future while using a very sophisticated visual layout that renders his prose as poetry. Tomasula’s TOC, an interactive DVD, is equally ambitious, incorporating motion graphics into a meditation on thermodynamics, myth and temporality. Conducted by David (Jhave) Johnson, this interview was […]
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The Archeology of Representation: Steve Tomasula’s The Book of Portraiture

The title of this paper borrows from Steve Tomasula’s own characterization of his novel in an interview; the central idea of his book, he suggests, is “the archaeology of human representation through layers of history that make up its chapters,”  and in which “pages appear as strata in an archaeological dig” (Tarnawsky 2011). Indeed, Tomasula’s phrase “the archaeology of human representation” resonates sharply, for the specter of Foucault hovers tantalizingly throughout one’s encounter with the book. Central to Foucault’s grappling with “the history of the present” – comprising an archaeological method and a genealogical critique – is the idea that […]
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Erroneous Assumptions: Steve Tomasula’s Ascension

I want to stay with the trouble, and the only way I know to do that is in generative joy, terror, and collective thinking. – Donna Haraway Steve Tomasula’s latest novel delivers amply on Haraway’s formula. The book overflows with discovery, both scientific and artistic, a performance that should spark joy for some readers (this one, anyway). It weaves a structure for “collective thinking” that spans generations, disciplines, and personal histories. As for terror, it flirts with a maximum survivable dose. There is a numinous Terror Bird, a never-ending War on Terror, an ominous bead of amber; and above all, […]
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&Now Conference Review

&Now Conference April 5-6, 2004 W: Compared to the Holocaust Conference going on up in Massachusetts this weekend, I think &Now was an especially fun place to be. The preisenters were freaks for the most part, freaks and Lydia Davis, from the fringes of word art. Those who write and have other people publish books of stories or poems were probably in the minority. There was abundant electronica, collaborative text-collage performance, multimedia performance fiction, text-image-sound, and even a critic. Compared to AWP in Chicago last month (4600 in attendance), the frightening barren gothic oppressively mirthless tornadoproof Cambridge WWII Air Raid […]

Long Talking Bad Conditions Illinois Blues: A Report on &Now, A Festival of Innovative Writing and Art

I been to Chicago and I been to Detroit But I never had a good time till I got up in Illinois – Skip James, “Illinois Blues” Chicago Self-Portrait You are watching me, runny nose and throbbing headache, wheel an 80-lb. suitcase (for which United Airlines charged me a $25 overweight fee on the flight from Buffalo – still cheaper and more trustworthy than shipping) down Halsted Avenue in Chicago on a brisk sunny April Tuesday morning. The suitcase is freighted with books, and the books freighted with just about every spare moment I’ve had from my college teaching job […]
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“You’ve never experienced a novel like this”: Time and Interaction when reading TOC

“You’ve never experienced a novel like this” asserts the publisher’s information for TOC (2009), Steve Tomasula’s new-media novel. This claim, presumably, is founded precisely on the new-media nature of TOC, its delivery of text, spoken word, music, graphics and animation all harnessed and combined in a computerised narrative. The publisher’s information certainly makes some bold claims. TOC is “a breathtaking visual novel,” “a multimedia epic”; “A new-media hybrid, TOC reimagines what the book is, and can be.” And I find myself powerless to disagree. “You’ve never experienced a novel like this” speaks volumes, for experience is at the heart of […]
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Flatland in VAS

Steve Tomasula’s work, VAS: An Opera in Flatland, an imagetext developed with graphic artist and typographer Stephen Farrell, considers the role of eugenics, its history, and its impact on the body and biotechnology in a novel that serves as a visual digression of how such topics as genetics, reproduction, and body modification are culturally represented through text and image. The plot follows the thoughts of a writer named Square as he deliberates over whether to get a vasectomy (the VAS of the title) as his wife, Circle, wishes. All the while, Square’s mother-in-law, hoping for another grandchild, believes that if […]

Tech-TOC: Complex Temporalities in Living and Technical Beings

At least since Henri Bergson’s (2005, 1913) concept of Duration, a strong distinction has been drawn between temporality as process (according to Bergson, unextended, heterogeneous time at once multiplicitous and unified, graspable only through intuition and human experience) and temporality as measured (homogenous, spatialized, objective and “scientific” time).  Its contributions to the history of philosophy notwithstanding, the distinction has a serious disadvantage:  although objects, like living beings, exist within Duration, there remains a qualitative distinction between the human capacity to grasp Duration and the relations of objects to it. Indeed, there can be no account of how Duration is experienced […]
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Pierre Menard with a Pipette: VAS and the Body of Text

Steve Tomasula’s VAS: An Opera in Flatland (2002) tells a simple story. Square considers having a vasectomy as his wife, Circle, has asked him to. When I tell others this, I usually have to pause at this point in my summary to allow the nervous titters to subside. In a sense, this laughter—whether at the mundane subject matter or at the mere mention of the penis outside of a strictly clinical or politicized context—is very much to the point. It is the fact that a vasectomy could ever be considered so commonplace, “that many people wouldn’t even consider it a […]
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The Importance of Being Earnest in Flatland

In earnest, I should flatly admit—and this is important—that my field of research is dandyism in nineteenth-century British fiction, which makes my contribution a somewhat wild(ean) one. Fortunately, it is not without its own logic, and can therefore embrace the fact that although VAS, Steve Tomasula’s embedded “Pedestrian Story” (149), is set in a complex semiotic system, his “simple story/With a plot as conventional as a museum’s base boards” (38), is found to stage in a rather geometrical way the reluctance of a would-be writer, Square, to undergo vasectomy, as agreed with his wife, Circle. This plot introduces a character […]

An Emerging Canon? A Preliminary Analysis of All References to Creative Works in Critical Writing Documented in the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base

Introduction Every time contributors add a record to the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base, they have the opportunity to add references to creative works of other articles of critical writing referenced. This enables the formation of a network of critical relations, what we have described in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base project report as a “literary ecology.” Using node references and attached views in the databases, these cross-references automatically display on both the record for critical writing and creative work it refers to. Over time, this develops into documentation of the critical reception of any given work documented in the Knowledge […]
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Gathering Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020

This special gathering collects reflections of the Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020 (CCSWG ‘20), a biannual meeting to explore the intersections of humanistic inquiry and computer code studies. Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), and Zach Mann (USC), the 2020 Working Group was held online from January 20 to February 3. It brought together more than 150 participants from around the world to share ideas, populating dozens of discussion threads with hundreds of comments, critiques, and critical readings. The need to attend to code could not be more urgent. Code exerts a regulatory effect over society and […]
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New ebr Interface

Joe, (I’ve copied this to Mark and Steve who might be interested in listening in on the discussion – Hi Mark! Hi Steve!) I had a fruitful and interesting discussion with Ewan yesterday. He’s going to pull together some time estimates and costs for re-working the interface and building the database. You know, he’s the perfect collaborative partner for this – he not only knows how to build the stuff, he thinks the dynamic activities through from a conceptual standpoint, and he’s familiar with the issues involved with scholarly publishing. He’s also attempting to create a hybrid practice that includes […]

New ebr Interface (2)

Hi All, I just had to jump in here. What a courageous document / email “essay” this is. These issues of database construction, interface design and context, publication as active event, navigational cues, visual metaphors, environmental logic, reader-response “picture theory” etc., are crucial. So my first suggestion is that we archive these group emails as they evolve. We’re definitely onto something here. A lot of these issues are coming up in the net/web art scene too. Calling into question how an online publication presents itself is similar to calling into question how an exhibition context emerges for net-specific works of […]

Merely Extraordinary Beings

An “eighteenth-century” novel, Ingenious Pain seamlessly combines various cultures of eighteenth-century England: it features the medical world, with its progress in surgical and other techniques (not to mention some entertaining in-fighting among schools of both physicians and “psychologists”), but it also offers a background and foreground peopled with less “officially” recognized members of the cultural terrain – a mermaid, a cabinet of wonders, table-top-sized automata, and a hermaphrodite doctor who collects human oddities for medical experiment. With its combination of high and low culture, the novel presents a full and rounded eighteenth century, but does so with a wit and […]

A Somewhat Legal Look at the Dawn and Dusk of the Napster Controversy

What follows is a transcript of a talk I gave on April 4, 2000 at a symposium held by the Science and Technology Law Center at Albany Law School. The symposium was called “Internet Crimes and Civil Violations”; I was asked to talk about music and the Internet in that context. I had been excitedly following the growth of the Internet, and particularly the implications for music and art. The invitation to speak gave me an opportunity to try to put a bunch of disparate ideas together. I’m pretty sure I failed in doing that (and I sure didn’t talk […]
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The Language of Music and Sound

Editor’s Note: Olivia Block and Seth Nehil are two sound artists who create music by integrating sounds from electronic sources, traditional instruments, field recordings and found objects such as old tape recordings or leaves, rocks, and pieces of glass. Collaborating together and at times with others, they are part of a world-wide community of composer/performers who are developing a new lingua franca of sound that puts the natural and the artificial into play with one another: composer/performers that blur genres of sound and music, as well as sound and silence. They extend the tradition of John Cage through their use […]

Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star

the hypertext murder case “Hypertext is dead – ” declared Markku Eskelinen at Digital Arts and Culture ’99 in Atlanta. “Cybertext killed it.” No doubt, interesting hypertext poetry and fiction remains to be written, but – if we consider hypertext as a category that defines a special, valid space for authorship and criticism of computerized works of writing – Eskelinen is clearly right. The hypertext corpus has been produced; if it is to be resurrected, it will only be as part of a patchwork that includes other types of literary machines. One viable category today, perhaps the most interesting one […]

Shopping for Truth

Adrien Gargett on Pierre Missac’s unification of empirical biography and textual production, and the development of a “criticism of indirection” too often missing from Benjamin studies. Dartford, England: Like tourists in a world class museum, visitors swapped souvenir photos and packed marble halls in Europe’s largest shopping centre. Bluewater, a complex of 320 shops and restaurants on the outskirts of London, is the most prominent in a series of regional mega-malls to open in Britain, where an increasingly mobile population has warmed to this most American of commercial concepts. Built in a former chalk quarry 15 miles east of London, […]

Image + Narrative

ebr6/7 image + narrative winter 97/98 and summer 98 Welcome a two-part issue on narrative theory and the image. [the original interface, ebr2.0, can be accessed here – ed.] In this double issue we hope to explore through literature a transition already evident in the culture at large, where technology has enabled narratives of all types to undergo transformation by the image. Increasingly, our ways of telling stories, of creating meaning, are weighted away from a sole reliance on words. It’s not just that literary works and criticism have started to incorporate imagery as decoration or visual accompaniment. Writing itself […]

Duchamp Through Shop Windows

The question of shop windows To undergo the interrogation of shop windows The exigency of the shop window The shop window proof of the existence of the outside world When one undergoes the examination of the outside world, one also pronounces one’s own sentence. In fact, one’s choice is “round trip.” From the demands of the shop windows, from the inevitable response to shop windows, my choice is determined. No obstinacy, ad absurdum, of hiding the coition through a glass pane with one or many objects of the glass window. The penalty consists in cutting the pane and in feeling […]

Talking Back to the Owners of the World

Steffen Hantke on Tom LeClair’s and Richard Powers’s novelistic imaginations of terror. Since the end of the Cold War, American fiction has aided in the cultural and political effort to reorient the public imagination, making sense of this brave new world and its concomitant order. It is a significant ideological gesture to think of the present geopolitical situation as “post-Cold War” – constant repetition of the term reinforces a view that is perhaps not as clear cut as it first appears. The label itself establishes a cultural dominant, a watershed moment or turning point that could very well be considered […]

Making the Rounds

When Vineland appeared in 1990, critics and reviewers immediately recorded their dissatisfaction with the novel they assumed was the follow-up to the wondrous Gravity’s Rainbow, the “project” Thomas Pynchon had been secretly (what else?) working on all those seventeen years in between. Vineland was just another novel – trademark Pynchon ideas, for sure, with its movie-dimensional characters, episodic plot that nevertheless hints at paranoiac connectedness, flaring out here and there with a rock-n-roll sensibility in the form of the death-cult Thanatoids – but surely this was not the book Pynchon spent all those years in producing. I would venture to […]

Dali Clocks: Time Dimensions of Hypermedia

Salvador Dali’s clocks aren’t wrong or stopped or broken. Their active faces slide like pancake batter over edges of a bureau, bend and hang across branches. Adapted to the shape of every object they meet, these clocks announce that there is no standard time in Dalí’s universe – nor, as Dali knew – in Einstein’s. In fact, Dali’s clocks are not clocks at all, if we mean bookkeepers that measure unvarying flow. But then the human heart is not that kind of clock either; rather, it is a fractal tempo tracker that runs concurrently to the beat of several highly […]

Unfolding Laramée

Eve Andrée Laramée addresses the hot topic of technology without digitizing, streaming, or projecting imagery – that is, without using “new” technology in her MIT installation, A Permutational Unfolding (1999). So startling to see a contemporary installation unplugged, especially at a site associated with technological expertise, one can hardly believe there’s not a MIDI trigger hidden somewhere. The artist transforms the List Visual Arts gallery by painting, furnishing, and upholstering the room in the style of an early 19th century, Empire period parlor which she fills with artifacts of that period. One also finds anachronistic elements such as woven copper […]

What Lies Beneath?

Daniel Clowes stands without a doubt as one of the most significant American cartoonists to emerge from the alternative comics ghetto in the past two decades. Graduating from early science-fiction and genre material like Lloyd Llewellyn to the more all-encompassing world of his pictorial potpourri Eightball (all published by the Seattle-based comics publisher Fantagraphics Books, Clowes has demonstrated a knack for narrative sophistication and character development – not to mention a keen and often devastating wit. These traits have garnered his work critical acclaim and some amount of commercial success, including the recent feature motion-picture version of his graphic novel […]

A Migration Between Media

Frequently in True North, Strickland makes reference – and hypertext may be, even in poetry, primarily a medium and method of annotation – to Muriel Rukeyser’s 1942 biography of Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903). From this source comes the narration of an incident, of a sort to help posterity recognize a man “of whom,” says Rukeyser, “so few stories have been told” (224): Gibbs spoke only once in a Faculty Meeting, during protracted, tiring debate on elective courses: should there be – more English, more Classics? More? Or less. They were astonished to see him rise, after thirty-two years, though familiar […]

Architecture as a Narrative Medium

Dorothy wants to leave Oz, the land of spectacle, so she chants “There’s no place like home,” three times to awake in familiar grey Kansas. That’s a far cry from Vienna and Paris, but in Beatriz Colomina’s Privacy and Publicity, these European cities provide the backdrop for a discussion of home. Focusing primarily on the houses and interiors designed by Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier, Colomina argues that architecture, far from being immune to the influence of mass culture as traditional architectural thinking has it, was influenced by mass media such as advertising and photography. As Colomina writes: The building […]


There are blow jobs and then there are blow jobs. The volumes at hand deal with both figurative and literal examples of the genre. And they manage to range over, as well as map, the landscape of what is loosely called print journalism in book form. They reveal not just hidden agendas, but the transformation journalism has undergone at the end of the twentieth century. One might first note the obvious: they are all written by men. There are books written by women inspired by Bill Clinton’s life and loves (Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning), but these are, in the […]

The Medial Turn

Following such foundational studies as Robert Nadeau’s Readings from the New Book on Nature (1981), N. Katherine Hayles’s The Cosmic Web (1984), David Porush’s The Soft Machine (1985), and Tom LeClair’s The Art of Excess (1989), Strehle and Johnston continue to work with a remarkably stable canon whose authors have “turned to modern science and technology for alternative concepts of narrative necessity and thematic organization” (Johnston 64). In the distributed network of alternatives that these mainstream studies have created, Pynchon occupies the shifting center, Barth and Coover persist in the academic margins, Gaddis and McElroy stand in perennial need of […]

Media, Genealogy, History

Remediation is an important book. Its co-authors, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, seem self-conscious of this from the outset. The book’s subtitle, for example, suggests their intent to contend for the mantle of Marshall McLuhan, who all but invented media studies with Understanding Media (1964), published twenty years prior to the mass-market release of the Apple Macintosh and thirty years prior to the popular advent of the World Wide Web. There has also, I think, been advance anticipation for Remediation among the still relatively small coterie of scholars engaged in serious cultural studies of computing and information technology. Bolter […]

Harry Mathews’s Al Gore Rhythms: A Re-viewing of Tlooth, Cigarettes, and The Journalist

Reviewing Harry Mathews is an onerous task, for the review is a taxonomical genre, and Mathews defies classification. Perhaps it is best not to assess his writing but to process it. One could leaf through it using one of his own devices, such as “Mathews’s Algorithm” – a literary machine he invented which recombines given elements according to a simple, elegant procedure. Indeed, Mathews’s texts – which include Oulipian exercises, poetry, translations, reviews, short fictions, memoir, and novels – read as if generated by an algorithm with a few bugs still in it. Mathews has characterized his singular prose style […]
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Alire: A Relentless Literary Investigation

1999 will mark the 10th anniversary of the web-based literary journal Alire. The journal – created in January 1989 by the Parisian group L.A.I.R.E. (Lecture, Art, Innovation, Recherche, Écriture), which included Philippe Bootz, Frédéric Develay, Jean-Marie Dutey, Claude Maillard, and Tibor Papp – is known as the oldest multimedia journal in Europe, and certainly one of the oldest in the West. Before the arrival of CD-ROMs, before the Internet explosion, the journal was already publishing poetry written for and intended to be read through computers. The tenth anniversary will be an occasion to return to several of the pathways located […]

Poetry in the Electronic Environment

Stephanie Strickland on the translation of poetry from print to screen. Talk given at Hamline University, St. Paul, MN, April 10, 1997 I want to start by evoking some of the many times that poetry is not a “book” of poetry: for instance, Prospero’s Books, a film, itself a version of Shakespeare’s theater poem, “The Tempest”; poetry videos, poetry spots on the radio; and many kinds of live performance, from slams to sonic poetry. We have also, today, for the first time, hypertext. Poems, and collections of poems, can be composed as, or into, hypertext, using the many specific capabilities […]

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Voice, Vision, and the Prosthetic Subject in Dancer in the Dark

Sound is not voice. The desire for it to be so, however, seems to lie at the heart of much compelling art, music, and film. How we feel about this desire – that to be human at all is to thoroughly take that desire for granted or, conversely, that to live in post-Enlightenment (much less postmodern) culture is to see that desire as romantic in the worst possible sense – is a question visited upon audiences with the most uncanny and disconcerting force in Lars von Trier’s film Dancer in the Dark. When the film was first released in May […]
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Un Policier sur la Police: The Gritty Reality Behind the Fonts You Read

on the ghost in the machine: the font as spiritual medium in CD-ROM poetry design “No one up here pays attention to reviews. We don’t care about reviews. Frankly reviews are mostly for people who still read. Like most of the written word, it is going the way of the dinosaurs. Most people get their information from the cinema and electronic media. I don’t know any actors or people in show business who have any serious interest in what is written about our world.” – Bruce Willis Up to now, setting type on a computer has followed a logic of […]
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Wiring John Cage: Silence as a Global Sound System

Is there a music to media ecology? John Cage argues: “Music as I conceive it is ecological. You could go further and say that it IS ecology” (Birds 229). The radical nature of this claim still demands to be understood. The challenges of Cage’s long trajectory across various media signal his stance toward a complex exteriority, an eco-musicology he calls “the impossibility of language” (113). Cage is a thinker of complexity, that is, of the materiality of systems, of the “working” aggregates he names music. His work is not adequately summarized by too-quick dismissals as a neotranscendentalism or Romanticism (as […]
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Reading Writing Space

Arriving on the literary scene in the early ’90s, Jay David Bolter’s Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing is one of those pro-hypertext books whose earnest boosterism leaves you feeling a little embarassed. Nonetheless, Bolter’s book has recently been seen changing hands around graphic design graduate programs — I once heard it referred to as “the only interesting writing about new media.” While interesting isn’t a word I would use to describe the writing itself, the book does touch upon a central area of interest to graphic designers: the impact of technology on the material embodiment […]

Sleepless in Seattle

A postmodern parlor game we liked to play in grad school worked like this: at an appropriately advanced juncture in the evening, distribute a text to each person there. Make sure there is a range of texts—no, a real range, as in not only Chaucer and Erdrich and Pynchon and Acker and Austin, but a cookbook, a comp class assignment, a phone book, an album cover, loose sheets that missed the can. Then take turns driving—the designated driver (sobriety unrequired) points to a person who randomly picks a place to begin reading; that person reads until halted by an open […]

Bare-Naked Ladies: The Bad Girls of the Postfeminist Nineties

About halfway through the 1994 film Bad Girls, Anita Crown (Mary Stuart Masterson), a young widow, discovers that she is no longer entitled to a claim on her deceased husband’s land rights. She has sought the advice of a lawyer, and when he informs her that the claim is invalid, she avows, “If your laws don’t include me, well, then they just don’t apply to me either.” This could well be the rallying cry of the bad girl in a so-called “postfeminist” era. Like Thelma and Louise, the four women in Bad Girls violate patriarchal laws and end up purifying […]
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Stealing Glances: Women(‘s) Writing on the World Wide Web

[ Some of the links to journals mentioned here are no longer active; others are, and yet others, such as Amy Janota’s “” appear to be under new ownership. See Todd Napolitano’s contemporaneous essay, Of Graphomania, Confession, and the Writing Self for another view on Web journals, and Rob Wittig’s Justin Hall and the Birth of the Blogs for a more recent discussion of what came to known as “blogs” -eds. ] Exactly what constitutes women’s writing on the World Wide Web is a problematic question. Almost any Web page constructed by/for/about women might be labeled as “women’s writing.” Since […]
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Designing Our Disciplines in a Postmodern Age – and Academy

Common sense ought to tell us it requires less effort to open a web browser than it does to walk across campus. Which is fine, at least for the moment, at least until academicians in both the humanities and the sciences begin to appreciate the potential for interdisciplinary exchange that the network now offers them. And by interdisciplinary, I don’t mean the routine say you say me patter of a literary critic having a conversation with a colleague in history. Instead, I mean aggressive interdisciplinary work, as when a cultural studies scholar looks in on the Artificial Intelligence Lab at […]
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Of Tea Cozy and Link

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink performs an autopsy on the hypertextual corpse. The hypertext corpus has been produced; if it is to be resurrected, it will only be as part of a patchwork that includes other types of literary machines. (Nicholas Montfort) Many thanks to Nick Montfort for his “Cybertext Killed the Hypertext Star” reviewing Espen Aarseth’s work Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Aarseth’s work is part of a valuable base of critical material that has attempted to refine the poetics of electronic literature on-the-fly, so to speak – to establish criteria in a field that is very young. As the form […]

Interferences: [Net.Writing] and the Practice of Codework

Rita Raley on the varieties of code/text, as discovered in the object-oriented aesthetic of Mez, Ted Warnell, Talan Memmott, Alan Sondheim, and others. 6.) Code. Use the computer. It’s not a television. Excerpted from Lewis Lacook’s posting of his “rules” for to the Webartery mailing list, reposted to the Nettime list (February 14, 2002). Codework refers to the use of the contemporary idiolect of the computer and computing processes in digital media experimental writing, or [net.writing]. Some of the prominent practitioners include Alan Sondheim, who has given the practice and genre its name, Mez (Mary-Anne Breeze), Talan Memmott, Ted […]
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The Code is not the Text (Unless It Is the Text)

Digital utopianism is still with us. It is with us despite having been tempered by network logistics and an all-too-reasonable demand for ‘content.’ Admittedly, New Media has aged. It has acquired a history or at least some genuine engagement with the reality principle, now that the Net is accepted as a material and cultural given of the developed world, now that the dot.coms have crashed, now that unsolicited marketing email and commercialism dominates network traffic. Nonetheless, artistic practice in digital media is still often driven by youthful, escapist, utopian enthusiasms. Net Art as such pretends to leapfrog this naivety through […]
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Fecal Profundity

1. A gorgeous little book for a filthy little topic, Laporte’s History of Shit almost defies analysis. A history of the psychoanalytic, social, cultural, and political appropriations of human waste, Laporte’s approach is almost as fluid as his subject-matter and the result is both fascinating and frustrating: full of whimsical insight, jumps of logic, free association and half-constructed arguments that are reiterated 50 pages later. It is also engagingly illustrated with contraptions for the control of four centuries of Western shit, and the cover design evokes an anus. Although influenced by Freud (“whose three requirements of civilization are cleanliness, order […]