Visualising Networks of Electronic Literature: Dissertations and the Creative Works They Cite

Visualising Networks of Electronic Literature: Dissertations and the Creative Works They Cite


Jill Walker Rettberg’s Visualizing Networks of Electronic Literature maps the fragmentary and dynamic field of electronic literature by analyzing citations in 44 doctoral dissertations published between 2002 and 2013. Applying “distant reading” strategies to the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, Rettberg identifies key works in the field, shifting genres, and changing approaches to scholarship.

In the last twenty years electronic literature has become a vibrant field with thousands of creative works published, a rich body of scholarship and multiple annual conferences, festivals and events. However, it has been hard to get an overview of the field as a whole. Electronic literature crosses into many genres (art, games, new media, literature) and is written in many languages. It is taught in many universities but there is no Department of Electronic Literature. Libraries and the traditional publishing industry provide new novels with ISBN numbers and cataloguing information, but electronic literature is not catalogued in this institutionally agreed-upon manner. There is no catalogue of all works of electronic literature, although several database projects are working together to catalogue more e-lit in the CELL consortium.

How then, can we see the whole field of electronic literature, a field perhaps by nature more networked and fragmented than most?

One measure of a field is the PhD dissertations written by young scholars entering the discipline. Novice scholars must develop their own sense of the field they are entering, and taken together, the several dozen dissertations written on electronic literature in the last decade or so can tell us a lot about the field we are in. Dissertations that discuss works of electronic literature are written in departments as diverse as literature (comparative literature or English and other national literatures), computer science, digital culture, communications, media studies, performance studies, art, and education. This is a cross-disciplinary field where methods may vary considerably, and the shared subject matter is, largely, the discussion of creative works “with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer,” to quote the Electronic Literature Organization’s definition.

In this paper, I present an analysis of 44 PhD dissertations on electronic literature published from 2002 to 2013. I used the open source network analysis software Gephi to visualise the citation networks and patterns that can be extracted from the links between the dissertations and the 467 unique creative works they discuss.

This is a kind of “distant reading,” to use a term coined by Franco Moretti of the Stanford Literary Lab (Moretti 2005). My focus wasn’t on closely reading each of the 44 individual dissertations or each of the 467 creative works they discuss. Instead I worked with the Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group and other contributors to the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base (Rettberg and Rasmussen 2014) to gather information about as many dissertations on electronic literature as possible. We skimmed the dissertations looking for references to creative works and added the references to the Knowledge Base. The entries for PhD dissertations are all publically viewable in the database. I then ran the data through the network analysis and visualization software Gephi to visualize communities of works cited by the same dissertations, and interpreted Gephi’s algorithmic clustering drawing on my own knowledge of electronic literature, as well as input from colleagues and others whom I shared the first visualizations with.

Ideally we would have data about and the full text of every PhD dissertation written at any university in any country about electronic literature. In practice, the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen has done its best to find as many dissertations as possible. We have searched archives such as ProQuest and Google Scholar for “electronic literature,” but just as importantly we have made a point of entering information about every dissertation we came across, saw referenced or read a mention of.

Most dissertations are documented online in institutional repositories. Usually at least an abstract is available, often the author has also provided tags or keywords, and in many cases the full text of the dissertation is available. We also added tags when these were not given by the author, and based this on the abstract, and the full text if we had access to it. When we could not find the full text online we attempted to contact the author to ask for a copy. There are, however, some dissertations we could not access beyond the title and abstract. The Knowledge Base allows cross-referencing between nodes, so we have added cross-references (links) from the entry about each dissertation to the creative works it discusses, although this was not possible for dissertations we did not have full text access to. A few dissertations have been left out because we could not find a person able to read the language of the dissertation or the works referenced well enough to register the data - unfortunately, Xiaomeng Lang’s work on Chinese electronic literature (Lang 2008) is one of these, and Asian electronic literature is sorely underrepresented in the Knowledge Base. We hope to be able to include such material in future analyses.

This sort of citation analysis can be done automatically for standardized types of publication such as books or journal articles. But creative works of electronic literature have never been standardized. They do not have unique identification numbers like DOIs or ISBNs, and very few of them have been entered into library catalogues. That means that we had to use humans who were experts on the field to identify and enter information about each creative work. However, the metadata now in the Knowledge Base can now be reused by other scholars, as it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Changing topics, shifting concerns

Nobody familiar with the growth of the field of electronic literature over the last years will be surprised to hear that more and more doctoral students are choosing to write their dissertations about electronic literature. In the first years, dissertations on electronic literature were occasional events, but in the last decade, there have consistently been several published each year, which allows for a critical mass of new scholars who can respond to each others work.

For the network analysis I limited the sample to dissertations published in 2002 and later, due to time limitations, but I used the whole set of dissertations in the Knowledge Base to see the larger patterns of what we talk about when we talk about electronic literature. Simple word clouds of the tags used to describe the dissertations clearly show a shifting focus in the study of electronic literature over the years.

To look at all the dissertations, I split them into three groups: 1976-2001, 2002-2007 and 2008-2012. The first time period shows a clear focus on technology and on the mechanics of reading these kinds of text, as shown in the tag clouds in Figure 2. The tag clouds are generated from tags assigned to the dissertations in the Knowledge Base. When the dissertation author specifed keywords on the dissertation we used these, and in other cases we added them based on the description and content of the dissertation. The tag clouds were generated using an online tool that displays more frequently used tags in a bigger font. Colours do not signify anything in these images.

As you can see in Figure 1, Hypertext is by far the most common tag (10 of 15 dissertations) and the next most popular tags are only used in three dissertations each (fiction, text, reading, computer) followed by five tags used in two dissertations each (computational, interactive, new media, theory, cybertext).


Figure 1: The tag clouds show the shifting focus in dissertations on electronic literature. From top to bottom, we see tags used to describe dissertations published between 1976-2001, in the middle dissertations published between 2003-2007 and on the bottom dissertations published between 2008-2012.  

The next batch of dissertations was published from 2003 until the end of 2007. We see hypertext is still a very important tag, but the focus on technology and the mechanical is dwarfed by more literary words: fiction, literature, narrative, as well as by words showing the broadening of the field: game, art, media.

The third group of dissertations covers the period from 2008-2012, and the most obvious shift is the way “hypertext” has disappeared and “digital” has taken its part. “Poetry” has grown a lot, and “fiction” is barely mentioned. the more general term “literature” has shrunk a little, and we also see how “media” has grown steadily over the three periods. The last few years have seen several dissertations on quite specific genres: interactive fiction, kinetic poetry and generative texts, and this is reflected in the more genre-focused vocabulary of current dissertations.

Diversity is the rule

In the 1990s, a frequently heard complaint was that scholars discussing electronic literature were more interested in theory than in discussing the actual literature. This is clearly not the case today. PhD dissertations about electronic literature reference a great diversity of creative works. A total of 467 separate works were referenced in the dissertations, and there was a lot less redundancy than might have expected. 354 creative works (76% of the total cited) were only cited by one of the 44 dissertations. 71 (15%) were cited by two dissertations, and 42 (9%) by three or more dissertations.

These are the 20 creative works that are cited by four or more dissertations. The title of each work is linked to its entry in the Knowledge Base and is followed by the number of citations and its year of publication.





afternoon, a story



Patchwork Girl



Victory Garden



Cent mille milliards de poèmes






The Impermanence Agent



Lexia to Perplexia






Composition No. 1



Zork 1



Colossal Cave Adventure



my body–a Wunderkammer









Text Rain



The Legible City



The Unknown



Pale Fire



These Waves of Girls: A Hypermedia Novella







It is not surprising that the most-cited works of electronic literature are well-established and more than a decade old, with the exception of Façade which was published in 2005. As Scott Rettberg notes (Rettberg 2014), Façade is an unusual case in that papers were published on the work several years before it was released to the public. The most-cited works are foundational works that help establish the field. They do, interestingly, represent several distinct genres. There are Storyspace hypertext fictions, which is expected (Rettberg 2012), followed by a selection of early web works exploring transience and some motion (The Impermanence Agent, Hegirascope, Lexia to Perplexia) as well as hypertext narrative (my body, The Unknown, 253, These Waves of Girls). There are installation pieces (Text Rain and Legible City), interactive fictions (Zork 1, Colossal Cave and Deadline) and the first interactive character, ELIZA. There are also two print precedents to electronic literature: Cent mille milliards de poèmes and Pale Fire. Still, it is interesting that with 44 dissertations with more or less traditional literature reviews there are so many that do not see the need to reference all the classics. Even the most referenced works on the list were not cited by two thirds of the dissertations.

There is no digital poetry in the most frequently cited list. Although the time lag is a probable explanation for this absence, another perhaps more compelling explanation is that the diversity of electronic literature has increased so drastically in the last 10-15 years that although the genre of digital poetry is well represented, no single work becomes emblematic.

If we look at cited works in the 24 dissertations published in the last five years (2009-2013), there are some shifts, although the most cited works remain similar. We see the entrance of digital poetry, and along with it, notice that Pale Fire, the more narrative print precedent to electronic literature, is now less frequently cited (although two dissertations in this period do cite it) and that Cent mille milliards de poèmes, Queneau’s combinatory poem in a sliced up codex book, is now very frequently discussed. It is interesting that Composition No. 1, a combinatory narrative work published as a box full of unbound pages of a novel to be read in any order, is still frequently referenced. This suggests that we are not simply seeing a shift away from narrative to poetry, but also an increased interest in combinatory practices.

Clusters of Works

Network analysis allows us to see connections between the dissertations and the works they discuss as a network graph. This kind of visualisation and analysis has its roots in social network analysis, a sociological methodology that was first developed in the 1950s, and in network theory, a mathematical methodology allowing us to understand networks in, for instance, molecular structures, the spread of disease, airline traffic networks or mobile phone usage.

The connections between dissertations and the creative works they cite form a bipartite or two mode network, which means there are two types of nodes: dissertations and creative works. A reference from a dissertation to a creative work forms a connection or an edge in this network. My approach here is similar to the approach taken by Dan Wang in an analysis of sociological articles taught in a large number of university courses (Wang 2012). Whenever two articles were taught in the same week of a course, Wang drew an edge between them, and thus generated a network diagram showing clusters of articles, and also articles that were “bridges” or “brokers” between the clusters. According to network theory, these brokers would be where information moves between clusters. Wang writes: “in culling a set of canonical references from this network representation, we privilege not only those references that are most emblematic of a given tradition, but also the bridging references that give these different territories of economic sociology some measure of coherence and mutual relevance.”

Figure 2 shows the complete network of dissertations and creative works that are referenced. Dissertations are shown in blue and creative works in red. Creative works have been sized according to their indegree, that is to say the number of inbound links or the number of different dissertations that reference them.

Figure 2: A bipartite or two-mode network of dissertations (in blue) and creative works (in red), sized by indegree. The layout was determined by the ForceAtlas 2 algorithm in Gephi.

Looking more closely at the graph (click the image to see the full version where you can read the titles), we can see clusters emerging around certain genres of electronic literature. For example, on the left we see a cluster of dissertations on interactive fiction, shown in the detail view in Figure 3. Nick Montfort’s 2007 dissertation Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction cites a range of works that are not cited by other dissertations, but also many that are cited in Jeremy Douglass’s 2007 dissertation Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media. Montfort has one shared reference, Anchorhead, with Van Leavenworth’s 2010 dissertation The Gothic in Contemporary Interactive Fictions, which also has a number of shared references with Douglass’ dissertation.

We see that Façade and ELIZA, which both center on conversational characters, and Zork, the first commercial interactive fiction, are referenced by the three dissertations on interactive fiction, but that they are pulled away from it in the layout of the graph. That is because they are also referenced by many other dissertations that do not reference other interactive fictions. This is where the network visualisation really begins to get interesting, because it allows us to see how the different creative works relate to each other. Façade and ELIZA are in a bridge or broker position between dissertations on interactive fiction and dissertations on generative narrative and poetry, by Noah Wardrip-Fruin (2006), Fox Harrell (2007) and Daniel C. Howe (2009). Similarly, Andrew Hutchison’s 2009 dissertation is a bridge between interactive fiction and the hypertext cluster in the middle of the graph.

Figure 3: A detail of Figure 3 showing a cluster of dissertations on interactive fiction, and another on generative narratives.

The interconnections are not always as clearly marked by genres as in these cases. If we zoom in to the bottom of the overall graph in Figure 2, we see a different kind of network represented, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: A detail from the upper right portion of the overall network shown in Figure 3.

The three dissertations in this part of the network primarily reference newer works, and as you can see by the fans of red creative works around each blue dissertation, they mostly reference works that are not discussed by any of the other dissertations in the sample. Giovanna di Rosario’s Electronic Poetry: Understanding Poetry in the Digital Environment (2011) is at the top of this cluster, Jeneen Naji’s 2012 Poetic Machines: an Investigation into the Impact of the Characteristics of the Digital Apparatus on Poetic Expression and Leonardo Flores’ Typing the Dancing Signifier: Jim Andrews’ (Vis)Poetics (2010) at the bottom.

We see that some creative works pull these dissertations towards each other. Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ The Last Day of Betty Nkomo is discussed by Naji and Rosario, as well as Maria Engberg’s Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media (2009), which pulls it down towards the section of the graph where Engberg’s dissertation is positioned (see figure 2), while the other works are only discussed by two of the three dissertations.

This way of representing the scholarship and the creative works about electronic literature can suggest interesting genre relationships, or provide a way of visualising what we already know. It is not very controversial to note that interactive fiction and conversational characters are related, but perhaps it is a little less obvious that interactive fiction is closely related to generative narrative, and that conversational characters are a broker between these genres, as suggested by Figure 4.  

The portion of the network shown in Figure 5 might be most interesting as a way of navigating the field. Seeing the works laid out in this manner would be useful for newcomers to the field or anyone looking for new works to read and explore, as is particularly evident in the web-based browsable versions of networks like these presented in Scott Rettberg’s paper analysing the full network documented in the Electronic Literature Knowledge Base (Rettberg 2014).

Relationships Between Creative Works

Another way of viewing the network is to convert it to a one-mode network: that is, to remove the dissertations from the network and instead view two creative works as being directly connected to each other if they are discussed in the same dissertation. Rather than saying that Engberg’s, Naji’s and Rosario’s dissertations are connected to each other through their shared referencing of The Last Day of Betty Nkomo, a one-mode graph looking only at the creative works would instead say that The Last Day of Betty Nkomo is connected to V: Vniverse and Nio.

I used Jaroslav Kuchar’s Multimode Networks Transformations plugin for Gephi to convert the complete bipartite network, consisting of dissertations connected to the creative works they referenced, into a monopartite or one-mode network consisting only of creative works. I filtered out works that were only referenced by one dissertation.

Figure 5: Creative works cited by at least two different dissertations, visualised as a one-mode network where an edge between two works means that they were cited in the same dissertation. Nodes are coloured by Gephi’s modularity algorithm, and the layout is generated using the ForceAtlas 2 algorithm.

The one-mode graph maps genres of electronic literature fairly clearly. In the centre we see the more narrative works, many of them classics. Moving up in the yellow area we see works that are still narrative but become more web-based and experimental, though it is not necessarily clear that there are any major differences between this group and the dark blue group beneath the central cluster. There is more poetry in the blue section, but also narrative works as well as print antecedents of electronic literature.

The bottom red section is more clearly delimited and consists largely of literary art installations and physical interfaces. The purple area in the upper right consists of screen-based poetry, the top area generative and the lower section not generative. And on the left we see interactive fiction and generative narratives in green.

I presented a slightly different version of this graph at the ELO conference in Paris in 2013 (Figure 6). That graph showed more clearly delimited genres than Figure 6, but only included data from 28 dissertations. Adding more data, in this case, made the picture less clear - which presumably means it is closer to reality.  

Figure 6: Creative works cited by at least two different dissertations in the earlier set of 28 dissertations, visualised as a one-mode network where an edge between two works means that they were cited in the same dissertation. Nodes are coloured by Gephi’s modularity algorithm, and the layout is generated using the ForceAtlas 2 algorithm.

Clusters over time

One reason that the clustering of creative works doesn’t completely correspond to genres is that the dissertations were published over the course of more than a decade, and the field has shifted during that time. Splitting the network up into two groups according to the year the dissertations were published makes that shift very visible.

Figure 7 shows the 21 dissertations that were published between 2002 and 2008 and the creative works they cite, leaving out later dissertations. Only works cited by at least two different dissertations are included.

Figure 7: Dissertations on electronic literature published from 2002-2008 and the creative works they cite.

Notably, the 2002-2008 set of dissertations does not have a clear set of digital poetry. There is a large central cluster that can be loosely divided into a group that is mostly hypertext fictions, many of them on disk or CD or actually print antecedents to electronic literature. The lower half of this large cluster consists of newer and more experimental works, mostly on the web. There are exceptions though, and the two sub-clusters cannot be entirely teased apart. We also see very clear clusters of interactive fiction and generative narrative.

The picture changes significantly in the next batch of dissertations, which was published between 2009 and 2013. 24 dissertations belong to this set.


Figure 8: Dissertations on electronic literature published from 2009-2013 and the creative works they cite.

There are more distinct groups of work here, and two clear groups of poetry. In the upper left we see a lot of poetic installations. Jeremy Shaw’sThe Legible City (1989), Romy Achituv and Camille Utterback’s Text Rain (1999) and David Jhave Johnston’s Sooth (2005) are bridges between the web texts and the installation works, which as you can see are connected largely because they are discussed by both David Jhave Johnston and Fabio de Vivo in their 2011 dissertations. The fact that just two dissertations can make such a clear “genre” or at least cluster appear shows both strengths and limitations of this method of analysis.

The second new cluster is kinetic poetry, which is at the other side of the graph, marked in purple. This is the same cluster as shown in Figure 5, though spun around a little differently.

We also see that interactive fiction has shrunk, though it remains a clear grouping. Leavenworth and Hutchison wrote dissertations on IF in this period, but did not cite works as prolifically as Montfort, Douglass and Mateas, so not as many individual works show up.

Ways of visualising a field

Visualising the field of electronic literature by looking at creative works cited by dissertations provides one view of the field that is difficult to see by other means. The clusters do correspond to genres, unsurprisingly, since dissertation authors especially in the last few years tend to focus on a particular kind of electronic literature rather than try to write about it all, as was perhaps a greater temptation in the earlier days of the field.

An important advantage of using the Knowledge Base to visualise the field is that this makes it possible to include and even centre the analysis around creative works, which are not part of library catalogs or others systems that co-citation analysis might typically pick up.

In a data sprint at the Digital Methods Winter School at the University of Amsterdam in January 2013, I worked with fellow scholars on alternative way of visualising the field of electronic literature: by feeding a selection of “seed books” in the field into the Amazon advertising API and retrieving books that are also bought by people who read the seed books. A full account may be read in Berry, Borra, Helmond, Plantin and Rettberg (forthcoming). It was immediately apparent that while our digital humanities seed books generated a fairly cohesive network that gave a fairly clear idea of what the digital humanities might be, the electronic literature seed books generated a far more disparate network.

Figure 9: Detail of the electronic literature graph in Figure 8 showing a cluster of books on conceptual writing and digital poetics. The two titles marked in yellow were among the original seed books.

While the Amazon related books network for electronic literature does show interesting adjacent fields, such as the conceptual writing books in figure 9, a large and cohesive cluster on games studies, as well as a strong cluster on digital humanities, the lack of a strongly cohesive cluster of books specifically on electronic literature can be read as evidence that the field of electronic literature is not defined by books. There is little surprise in that, of course, though it is interesting that the digital humanities, which is also nominally centred around digital projects and methodologies, is far more clearly defined by its books.

The Amazon related books network does include three works of electronic literature: three of the early Storyspace classics are of course for sale on Amazon. People who buy Hayles’ Electronic Literature, Landow’s Hypertext 3.0 or Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck, apparently frequently also buy afternoon, a story, and people who buy afternoon often buy Patchwork Girl or Victory Garden - or techno-utopian or -dystopian books like Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody or Evgeny Morozov’s Net Delusion.

As we detail in the paper discussing the Amazon related books networks, there are many possible methodological flaws and sources for error in the analysis, but it does serve as an interesting mirror view of the field of electronic literature that is, as the digital methods creed demands, completely based on data that is digitally native rather than curated by experts as the ELMCIP Knowledge Base is.

Dissertations as Collective Curation

In effect, this paper repurposes dissertations on electronic literature, using them as a form of collective curators of the creative works in the field. Individually, the scholars writing these dissertations were not intending their selection of a particular set of creative works to be appropriated by a scholar such as myself in order to map the field. Perhaps they would have chosen differently if they had realised that their work would be used in this way.

The network graphs that Gephi generates are very reminiscent of the maps of hypertexts we saw in the 1990s. By logging each citation of a creative work made in a dissertation we are making the references into literal hypertextual links. In a sense, this means that our collective scholarship should be viewed as a collective hypertext. Using visualisation software such as Gephi, we can make the map view of our collective field.


I could not have done this work without the support and active participation of the University of Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group and of the ELMCIP project, both led by Scott Rettberg. While the analyses in this paper are my own, a lot of the data was entered by fellow research group members and by the many other contributors to the Knowledge Base. My switching use of “we” and “I” reflects this shared labour.

Works Cited

Berry, David, Erik Borra, Anne Helmond, Jean-Christophe Plantin, Jill Walker Rettberg. Forthcoming. “The Data Sprint Approach: Exploring the field of Digital Humanities through Amazon’s Application Programming Interface.” Under consideration. Data and early findings available at

Hanneman, Robert A. and Mark Riddle.  2005. Introduction to social network methods.  Riverside, CA:  University of California, Riverside.

Lang, Xiaomeng. 2008. Der Dialog der Kultur und die Kultur des Dialogs: Die chinesische Netzliteratur. PhD dissertation, University of Siegen.

Moretti, Franco. 2005. Graphs, Maps, Tree: Abstract Models for Literary History. London: Verso.

Rettberg, Jill Walker. 2012. “Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field.” Dichtung Digital, 41.

Rettberg, Scott. 2014. “An Emerging Canon? A Preliminary Analysis of All References to Creative Works in Critical Writing Documented in the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base.” electronic book review.

Rettberg, Scott, and Eric Rasmussen. 2014. “The ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base: Project Report.” In Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice: A Report from the HERA Joint Research Project, 307–53. Computing Literature Series. West Virginia UP.

 Wang, Dan. 2012. “Is there a Canon in Economic Sociology?” in ASA Economic Sociology Newsletter 11(2), May 2012.


List of Dissertations Analysed

Michael Mateas

Interactive Drama, Art, and Artificial Intelligence


Anders Fagerjord

Rhetorical Convergence: Earlier Media Influence on Web Media Form


Carolyn Guertin

Quantum Feminist Mnemotechnics: The Archival Text, Digital Narrative and The Limits of Memory


Jill Walker

Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World


Scott Rettberg

Destination Unknown: Experiments in the Network Novel


Anna Gunder

Hyperworks: On Digital Literature and Computer Games


Donna Leishman

Creating Screen-Based Multiple State Environments: Investigating Systems of Confutation


Edward Maloney

Footnotes in Fiction: A Rhetorical Approach


Cheryl E. Ball

A New Media Reading Strategy


David Ciccoricco

Repetition and Recombination: Reading Network Fiction


Roman Zenner

Hypertextual Fiction on the Internet: A Structural and Narratological Analysis


Serge Bouchardon

Le récit littéraire interactif. Narrativité et interactivité


Anne Mangen

New narrative pleasures? A cognitive-phenomenological study of the experience of reading digital narrative fictions


Noah Wardrip-Fruin

Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media


D. Fox Harrell

Theory and technology for computational narrative: an approach to generative and interactive narrative with bases in algebraic semiotics and cognitive linguistics


Jeremy Douglass

Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media


Jessica Pressman

Digital Modernism: Making it New in New Media


Maria Engberg

Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media


Nick Montfort

Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction


Cheri Crenshaw

Exploiting Kairos in Electronic Literature: A Rhetorical Analysis


Hans Kristian Rustad

Tekstspill i hypertekst. Koherensopplevelse og sjangergjenkjennelse i lesing av multimodale hyperfiksjoner


Andrew Hutchison

Techno-historical Limits of the Interface: The Performance of Interactive Narrative Experiences


Daniel C. Howe

Creativity Support for Computational Literature


Florian Hartling

Der digitale Autor. Autorschaft im Zeitalter des Internets


Markku Eskelinen

Travels in Cybertextuality. The Challenge of Ergodic Literature and Ludology to Literary Theory


Zuzana Husárová

Písanie v interaktívnych médiách. Digitálna fikcia /Writing in the Interactive Media. Digital Fiction


Leonardo L. Flores

Typing the Dancing Signifier: Jim Andrews’ (Vis)Poetics


Van Leavenworth

The Gothic in Contemporary Interactive Fictions


Anders Sundnes Løvlie

Textopia: Experiments with Locative Literature


David Jhave Johnston

Aesthetic Animism: Digital Poetry as Ontological Probe


Fabio De Vivo

eLiterature, analisi critica, strumenti interpretativi, potenzialità e possibilità applicative


Giovanna Di Rosario

Electronic Poetry: Understanding Poetry in the Digital Environment


Jukka Tyrkkö

Fuzzy Coherence: Making Sense of Continuity in Hypertext Narratives


Luciana Gattass

Digital Literature: Theoretical and Aesthetic Reflections


Maya Zalbidea Paniagua

Reading and Teaching Gender Issues in Electronic Literature and New Media Art


Rulon Matley Wood

Hypertext and Ethnographic Representation: A Case Study


Talan Memmott

Digital Rhetoric and Poetics: Signifying Strategies in Electronic Literature


Holly Dupej

Next Generation Literary Machines: The “Dynamic Network Aesthetic” of Contemporary Poetry Generators


Jeneen Naji

Poetic Machines: an investigation into the impact of the characteristics of the digital apparatus on poetic expression


Jennifer Roudabush

Theorizing Digital Narrative: Beginnings, Endings, and Authorship


Ugo Panzani

“I think, therefore I connect”. Database, connessionismo ed esopoiesi nel romanzo anglo-americano (1995-2011)


Anaïs Guilet

Pour une littérature cyborg : l’hybridation médiatique du texte littéraire


Fernanda Bonacho

A Leitura em Ambiente Digital: Transliteracias da Comunicação


Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen

Digital Poesi. Æstetisk Analyse og det Mediales Rolle i Kunstværkers Kommunikation



The following dissertations were not included in the analysis because I could not obtain the full text, because there were no references to creative works of electronic literature or because of language barriers.


Belinda Barnet

Lost in the Archive: Vision, Artefact and Loss in the Evolution of Hypertext


Christy Dena

Transmedia Practice: Theorising the Practice of Expressing a Fictional World across Distinct Media and Environments


Clara Mancini

Towards Cinematic Hypertext : A theoretical and Empirical Investigation


Gavin Stewart

A homecoming festival : the application of the dialogic concepts of addressivity and the awareness of participation to an aesthetic of computer-mediated textual art


Lisbeth Klastrup

Towards a Poetics of Virtual Worlds. Multiuser Textuality and the Emergence of Story


Lori Emerson

The Rematerialization of Poetry: From the Bookbound to the Digital


Mark C. Marino

I, Chatbot: The Gender and Race Performativity of Conversational Agents


Mirona Magearu

Digital poetry: Comparative textual performances in trans-medial spaces


Wilton Azevedo

Interpoesia: Le Debut de L’ecriture en Expansion


Wilton Azevedo

Interpoesia: o Inicio da Escritura Expandida


Xiaomeng Lang

Der Dialog der Kultur und die Kultur des Dialogs: Die chinesische Netzliteratur


Zoltàn Szüts

Szellem a gépben. A hypertext



Kent Aardse:

The CELL Project stems from a desire to establish cooperative communication among databases devoted to electronic literature worldwide. These resources are open source and freely accessible to all, but they have not as yet had a method for cross-referencing each other in terms of content, citation structure, bibliographic information, and other forms of metadata. In a word, the goal of CELL is interoperability. More information can be found [here] (