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Electronic Literature

New Horizons for the Literary

N. Katherine Hayles

Publication Year: 2008

A visible presence for some two decades, electronic literature has already produced many works that deserve the rigorous scrutiny critics have long practiced with print literature. Only now, however, with Electronic Literature by N. Katherine Hayles, do we have the first systematic survey of the field and an analysis of its importance, breadth, and wide-ranging implications for literary study. Hayles’s book is designed to help electronic literature move into the classroom. Her systematic survey of the field addresses its major genres, the challenges it poses to traditional literary theory, and the complex and compelling issues at stake. She develops a theoretical framework for understanding how electronic literature both draws on the print tradition and requires new reading and interpretive strategies. Grounding her approach in the evolutionary dynamic between humans and technology, Hayles argues that neither the body nor the machine should be given absolute theoretical priority. Rather, she focuses on the interconnections between embodied writers and users and the intelligent machines that perform electronic texts. Through close readings of important works, Hayles demonstrates that a new mode of narration is emerging that differs significantly from previous models. Key to her argument is the observation that almost all contemporary literature has its genesis as electronic files, so that print becomes a specific mode for electronic text rather than an entirely different medium. Hayles illustrates the implications of this condition with three contemporary novels that bear the mark of the digital.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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p. v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

This book, with its related website and accompanying CD featuring volume 1 of the Electronic Literature Collection, is intended to help electronic literature move into the classroom. For someone teaching a course on contemporary literature, for example, it can be used along with a unit on electronic literature ...

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Electronic Literature: What Is It?

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pp. 1-42

This fanciful scenario is meant to suggest that the place of writing is again in turmoil, roiled now not by the invention of print books but the emergence of electronic literature. Just as the history of print literature is deeply bound up with the evolution of book technology as it built on wave after wave of technical innovations, ...

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Intermediation: From Page to Screen

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pp. 43-86

Literature in the twenty-first century is computational. As noted in chapter 1, almost all print books are digital files before they become books; this is the form in which they are composed, edited, composited, and sent to the computerized machines that produce them as books. They should, then, properly be considered as electronic texts for which print is the output form. ...

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Contexts for Electronic Literature: The Body and the Machine

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pp. 87-130

The context of networked and programmable media from which electronic literature springs is part of a rapidly developing mediascape transforming how citizens of developed countries do business, conduct their social lives, communicate with each other, and perhaps most significantly, how they construct themselves ...

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Revealing and Transforming: How Electronic Literature Revalues Computational Practice

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pp. 131-158

When body and machine interact, intermediating dynamics between them give rise to emergent phenomena crucial to understanding the effects of electronic literature. The logic of coevolution implies, however, that just as networked and programmable media are transforming literature, ...

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The Future of Literature: Print Novels and the Mark of the Digital

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pp. 159-186

Nothing is riskier than prediction; when the future arrives, we can be sure only that it will be different than we anticipated. Nevertheless, I will risk a prognostication: digital literature will be a significant component of the twenty-first century canon. Less a gamble than it may appear, ...


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pp. 187-210


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pp. 211-223

E-ISBN-13: 9780268081621
E-ISBN-10: 026808162X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268030841
Print-ISBN-10: 0268030847

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: Images removed; no digital rights.
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 694144506
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Electronic Literature

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Literature, Modern -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Literature and the Internet.
  • Literature, Modern -- 21st century -- History and criticism.
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