cite this article as
Currents in Electronic Literacy
Fall 2001 (5),
- In this issue, Currents in Electronic Literacy
examines some exciting currents in electronic literature.
More specifically, as the title of our special topic suggests,
this issue explores electronic poetry--a.k.a. e-poetry--and
considers whether this poetry proffers a new poetics (be that
a singular or plural poetics). The responses from our contributors
to our query--E-Poetry: New Poetics(?)--are embodied in a variety
of electronic forms and espouse a wide range of views reflective
of the diversity of e-literature and e-criticism.
In "A Quick Buzz around the Universe
of Electronic Poetry," e-poet Deena Larsen launches the
exploration of our topic by guiding us on a tour which surveys
the multifaceted landscape of electronic literature. The "Quick
Buzz" features numerous tour stops at e-poetry Web sites,
illustrating in part the depth and breadth of e-poets' work.
"The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls" by M. D.
Coverley then examines a different side of e-literature: the
temporal nature of electronic works resulting from the often
ephemeral qualities of the technology which both enables e-poetry
and e-fiction and poses specific hazards for e-writers. For
that writer, Coverley finds, "annihilation" of an
e-work may be only one technological upgrade away. "Sea
Whispers," a fine example of an e-poem by Larsen, illustrates
one of the many distinct forms which e-poetry embodies. (As
with Coverley's "Mirror," we publish here the accessible
version of "Sea Whispers"; the two e-writers' original
works are discussed, contrasted with the accessible versions,
and linked to in their op-ed pieces in our issue's final section.)
And in our own Currents' survey of "E-Poets on
the State of Their Electronic Art," we feature the views
of 11 e-writers prominent in the various facets of their field.
Among the eight questions to which they respond is this: "What
aesthetic is emerging" in e-poetry?
This issue also takes a theoretical look at
electronic literature and the nature of the critical essay
on the Web. Our second section, Articles: Hyperliterature
and Links, considers Web-based literature and criticism
in juxtaposition to their paper-based counterparts with interesting
results: in sum, our contributors find that formal features
are enduring (not necessarily a positive or critically enhancing
non-development) concurrently with the emergence of new aesthetics,
or a need for a new approach to aesthetics. "Reading
Time: For a Poetics of Hypermedia Writing" by Bill Marsh
examines the manner in which current technologies create and
distribute e-literature and the relationship of traditional
reading practices to e-texts; Marsh concludes with some suggestions
on how criticism might best accommodate the evolution of electronic
literature. Adrian Miles' "Realism and a General Economy
of the Link" likewise treats the issue of criticism's
accommodation to the Web and as a text itself stands in stark
contrast to the canonical form of academic prose. In his "academic
hypertext essay"--a self-acknowledged "experiment"
in which content for the reader is at least in part dependent
upon form--Miles explores the value of the "open"
critical text and the value of the link informing that openness.
This section of Currents closes with "Don't Believe
the Hype: Rereading Michael Joyce's Afternoon and Twelve
Blue" by Anthony Enns, who considers the similarities
between the formal features of traditional and hypertext narratives
and what new type of criticism might best be suited to discern
real and particular differences between the two modes of the
In our final section, Opinions: E-Literature
and Accessibility, we return to "Sea Whispers"
and "The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls" and
revisit part of their processes of creation, the making of
these two pieces in "accessible" versions. In their
respective op-ed pieces, Coverley and Larsen discuss with
frankness their work doing this, and, from their vantage points
as e-writers, the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
Our issue concludes with the views of Currents' General
Editor John Slatin, who worked closely with both Larsen and
Coverley in their endeavors to facilitate the evolution of
their works to accessible form.
Former Currents' readers will readily
note that with this issue we are debuting a new look. Ironically,
perhaps, the site now appears more reminiscent of a paper
academic journal (and perhaps this speaks to the very debate
some of our contributors engage: the continuation of traditional
forms concurrent with, and in our case, merging with, the
emergence of new forms). Our goal was to reinforce the academic
integrity of our publication, and, at the same time, make
it more appealing for readers to, in Web-fashion, join the
discussion as participants and continue the text of the issue
as writers. We've intentionally placed directly below our
logo (a logo which previous readers will note remains the
same) links to our issue-specific E-Poetry Discussion Forum
and Electronic Literature Links. The forum is intended for
readers to continue--as contributors themselves--what contributors
began, to keep the text of this issue open and under discussion.
Likewise, the Electronic Literature Links is an open add-link
page, a place where you as reader are invited to add relevant
Web sites to the list.
Finally, a note about our own editorial discoveries:
These discoveries are very much related to the content of
this issue and the form of its various contributions, and
they suggest that with the evolution of e-lit and e-crit,
"e-criteria" for what constitutes a critical essay
requires a flexibility which accounts for both the message
being conveyed and the range of technological possibilities
for conveying that message. Moreover, the technology, as e-poetry
with its use of multimedia aptly illustrates, is not just
a vehicle for transmission; it often enables a
fuller expression of what is being transmitted. Likewise,
a critical essay is no longer simply text with a few links
to relevant Web sites and a Works Cited thrown in for flavor--the
hyptertextual and the multimedia potential for the
academic article are not only being realized but are also expanding
our understanding of what that article is treating, even if
it is only treating self-reflexively the text which it presents.
This e-merging academic essay, along with accessibility priorities
necessary to keep the promise that plurality preaches,
poses challenges for editors of e-journals. We hope with all
sincerity that we've met with a degree of integrity those
challenges. And, at the same time, we realize that for an
e-journal, re-vision will follow.