It seems strange during pandemic-induced isolation to reflect on last summer’s ELO2019 gathering, the first time the Electronic Literature Organization’s annual conference and media arts festival was hosted in Ireland. It was a privilege for all at University College Cork to welcome so many scholars, practitioners and colleagues to our campus and city, a privilege that is only magnified now that same cohort is unable to convene in Orlando, Florida for ELO2020. The editors of this special issue would like it dedicated to ELO2020 organisers, whose labour is seen and valued.
This collection of essays from ELO2019 is the largest ever gathering published by the Electronic Book Review, and we are extremely grateful to Will Luers, Joe Tabbi and everyone at the journal for making that possible, and indeed, for continuing to sustain such a vibrant intellectual space. Readers will encounter three different types of contribution as they work through the issue: keynote addresses, scholarly essays, and artistic reflections.
As noted in the introduction to the ELO2019 Programme & Book of Abstracts, the theme for last summer’s conference and exhibition was “peripheries”, with delegates invited to “explore the edges of literary and digital culture, including emerging traditions, indeterminate structures and processes, fringe communities of praxis, effaced forms and genres, marginalised bodies, and perceptual failings.” When compiling the programme, the title of one paper seemed particularly timely, Clara Chetcuti’s ‘Electronic Literature, or Whatever It’s Called Now’. Electronic literature—whatever you consider that to be or whatever you might want to call it—is quite simply a myriad of practices located across a great mire of communities and cultures. Ireland, with artistic and critical communities existing on the edge of Europe, lost between the great institutional powers that can be found within Britain and North America, is the ideal place to explore the peripheral” (see O’Sullivan 2019).
This special issue is intended as a continuation of that exploration, comprised of scholarly essays and artistic interventions that demonstrate the great breadth of intellectual and creative endeavour pursued by members of this community. It is only a snapshot of that which was presented in the halls of the Kane and O’Rahilly buildings, and we hope its compilation will serve as a gateway to the work of those who are not included.
We are very grateful to all who made ELO2019 possible.
O’Sullivan, James, ed. 2019. ‘ELO2019 Programme & Book of Abstracts’. University College Cork. https://cora.ucc.ie/handle/10468/8128.