If you attended ELO 2018 in Montréal, then you may have heard of Leo Flores’s notion of “third generation e-lit,” the subject of his paper that year and the talk of the conference. ebr is delighted to publish this work that imagines a new way of understanding the history of electronic literature.
And if you attended ELO 2017 in Porto, then you may remember Matthew Kirschenbaum’s keynote “ELO and the Electric Light Orchestra: Lessons for Electronic Literature from Prog Rock,” in which Kirschenbaum proposed the notion of e-literature’s “#1 hit.” This month, we publish Kathi Inman Berens’s response, “E-Lit’s #1 Hit: Is Instagram Poetry E-Literature?” in which she explores examples of viral Instapoetry as a new form of e-lit.
Karl Ove Knausgård wrote his autobiographical novels My Struggle from 2009 to 2011 to both aclaim and controversy (the title in Norwegian is Min Kamp). Over a roundtable discussion at Knausgård’s alma mater, the University of Bergen, Scott Rettberg, Chris Ingraham, Joseph Tabbi, Kjersti Aarstein, Nathan Jones, and Søren Pold discuss the novels. Are they fact or fiction?
This month, we feature a review of Anthony Uhlmann’s novel Saint Antony in His Desert (Apollo Books, 2018); Martin Paul Eve describes the many layers of the text’s narratives and form, to the result of describing it as an “anti-novel.”
Leo Flores’s “Third Generation Electronic Literature” describes our current time of e-lit as the “third generation,” characterized by the interaction and ubiquity of Web 2.0.
Drawing upon Katherine Hayles’ definition of a “classic” first generation and “contemporary” second generation of electronic literature in the seminal essay “Electronic Literature: What is it?” (2007), Flores renegotiates the categorizations into the following: the first generation is pre-Web, the second begins with the Web, and the third integrates the “social media networks, apps, mobile and touchscreen devices, and Web API services” of Web 2.0. Examining examples of the impact of digital culture on creative forms online, including works that are viral (a phenomenon unique to the third generation), Flores’s essay contributes a new way of understanding our creative digital history.
Kathi Inman Berens’s essay “E-Lit’s #1 Hit: Is Instagram Poetry E-Literature?” essay can be read through the perspective of third generation e-lit. First appearing as a paper on the ELO 2018 panel “Toward E-Lit’s #1 Hit,” Berens’s essay explores several examples of Instagram poetry as being able to gather fanbases, including the works of Rupi Kaur, R.M. Drake, and Tyler Knott Gregson. While the idea of having fanbases for poetry seems antiquated, Berens’s point is that the online phenomenon represents self-published Instapoetry as a “viral,” shareable form of poetry that is only possible through digital platforms. She offers, “the performative materiality of social media platforms reshapes the contemporary literary field,” sparking the beginning of a new conversation about what we counts as electronic literature.
Over a roundtable discussion at Karl Ove Knausgård’s alma mater, the University of Bergen, Scott Rettberg, Chris Ingraham, Joseph Tabbi, Kjersti Aarstein, Nathan Jones, and Søren Pold discuss the six-part novels Min Kamp for issues of controversy, ethics, translation, and accessibility that surround the book. While seemingly having “nothing to do with computation or digital culture,” as Rettberg notes, the project resembles a modernist style that intrigues each speaker. The roundtable cover various characters in the story, the backlash that Knausgård received for having based characters off of real people in his life, and how the “autobiographical novels” can then be marketed. Are they fiction or fact? The mediation of the writing process for this kind of multi-year project shapes a political discussion, covering political figures, the politics of textual categorization, and the politics of writing practices, or, autofiction.
Martin Paul Eve reviews Anthony Uhlmann’s novel Saint Antony in His Desert (Apollo Books, 2018), a story of a defrocked monk named Antony who escapes to the desert to finish writing two other texts. The multi-layered text results in a metafictional work that contemplates the act of writing itself as Antony slips into greater delirium. Under Eve’s treatment, the text can be thought of as “pos[ing] questions of what it means to write literary criticism, philosophy, and fiction as discrete categories in the twenty-first century.” Negotiating the “characters” and varied perspectives of Albert Einstein, Henri Bergson, alternative music, and religion, Eve identifies the form of the novel as being its major autofictional influence.
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