“Cultural Screenings: Re-Situating American Digital Practices”

I am co-editing a special issue of RIAS (Review of International American Studies) with Mauro Carassai.

The CFP has been circulating at UPenn and elsewhere, but as the deadline approaches (February 20), I wanted to make one last publicity push for those who might be interested. Here’s the call for proposals.

Print technology and the discovery of the new world have often played a major role in the construction of our visions of modernity by means of a mass-produced imagery set in motion by the increased circulation of goods, people, and ideas across transcontinental routes. Such characterization of “modernity,” however, too quickly risks erasing the pre-existent in ways that have become utterly familiar to the field of American studies: what is presented as new and innovative, has a history extending already from the conceptualization of the American continent itself as the “discovery” of a “new world.” As Edmundo O’Gorman’s notorious argument highlighted, the act of discovery would have to be recast as “a process of invention” (The Invention of America, 1961)

The advent of digital technology and networked instantaneous communication, globally hyper-linked databases, elusive “electronic elsewheres” of cloud computing and augmented realities, in conjunction with the acknowledgment that many of the top computer manufacturers (Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Apple) are located in America, seem to create the premises for a renewed “invention of America.” As the digital poet John Cayley remarks in “Screen Writing: A Practice-Based, Eurorelative Introduction to Electronic Literature and Poetics”, “the ‘new’ of new media, the ‘hyper’ and ‘cyber’, the ‘digital’ and ‘electronic’, all these prefixes and the characterization they encourage have the effect of removing history and locatedness” (605) in digital creative practices. As a consequence, the American environment too quickly risks appearing as a natural or neutral setting for electronic forms of expression.

Although digital humanists, new media scholars, and literary critics often examine electronic artefacts produced in America and characterized by diversity of topics, concerns, and approaches that can be reconnected with the multicultural diversity of the American continent, they seldom foreground the implications of their cultural characterization. Such tendency generates a need to identify the specific role American digital forms of representation are currently playing in articulating a post-national, post-racial, post-ethnic, post-gender literacy in the electronic apparatus by conflating it in the universalizing interpretation of the post-humanist paradigm increasingly associated with technological culture. Our scholarly project aims therefore at reflecting upon a set of interconnected questions about how an integral understanding of the non-neutral characterization of the digital can be carried out from a great diversity of perspectives that transcend American geographical, historical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries.

To what extent are current digital theories developed in the US driven by a supposedly neutral attention to the medium? To what extent do the range of digital forms of expressions and the methodologies employed in their analysis happen to exceed the alleged paradigm of “media-specific” analysis? And how might the formal and technological approaches to digital poiesis be ideally situated within a history of artistic practices related to (North) American culture?

We welcome paper proposals that explore cultural issues related to American digital and technological modernity from a fluid, heterogeneous, comparative, international perspective. In other words, contributions should deal both with the ways in which international perspectives can re-articulate the cultural logic of the digital and with the specific ways in which digital media studies and digital scholarship (tools, theories, practices) developed in the Americas can be regarded, re-thought, reconfigured, and even questioned from international perspectives.

    We invite submission of abstracts (500-word length max) and one-paragraph bio by no later than February 20, 2014.

We expect final papers to be of 25-30 page length. Essays’ final versions should follow the RIAS Style Sheet.

Please send your abstract and one-paragraph bio to:rias.special.issue@gmail.com

Contact e-mails: mcarassai@ufl.eduleonardo.flores@upr.edu

Editors: Mauro Carassai and Leonardo Flores

Mauro Carassai is a PhD candidate at University of Florida. He holds a Masters of Arts in American Literature and Culture from University of Leeds (UK) and was a Fulbright visiting student at Brown University in 2007-2008. His research combines literary theory, Ordinary Language Philosophy, and digital literatures within the larger frame of American literatures and American studies. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Culture Machine, LEA Almanac (MIT Press), and Digital Humanities Quarterly. He was a 2010-11 HASTAC scholar.

Leonardo Flores is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez Campus and the Treasurer for the Electronic Literature Organization. He was the 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. His research areas are electronic literature, poetry, and preservation of first generation electronic objects. He is the lead writer, publisher, and editor of a scholarly blogging project titledI ♥ E-Poetry (http://iloveepoetry.com). For more information on his current work, visit http://leonardoflores.net.

cfp categories:
modernist studies

Teaching Hamlet in Digital Media

hamletmemesThis semester in my Literature in Digital Media class, I’m experimenting with teaching a unit on Hamlet in a few innovative ways.

Week 1: Hamlet and Editorial Theory

The unit began by assigning an article about the textual history of the play. I divided the class into 6 groups and assigned each group a different digital edition for them to read, examine, and report on. The goal was to dispel the fallacy of texts as singular and authoritative and provide a more flexible notion of a work that can accommodate multiple texts. Here’s a link to the course schedule with the readings for that week.

Week 2: Multimedia Hamlet

After the groups had presented their editions and we had discussed them as a class, I assigned assigned 5 different film adaptations of Hamlet– one to each group (I had to combine two groups)– and asked them to watch the films over the weekend. And to come prepared to discuss the films in groups and with the class. I also had them keep their eyes open for memorable moments in the films that they could screen-capture and creates memes with.

Each member of each group was then assigned an act from the play that they would use to create memes with.  The parameters were to use: an image from the film, text from the Hamlet, and their own text, and “to strive for humor or wit, or some thought-provoking observation about the play, characters, situation, etc.” The goal was for the students to use a familiar form (the image + caption meme) to engage the materiality of Hamlet‘s text and film productions.

The students then worked in groups to develop a pecha kucha presentation that retold their film adaptation of Hamlet using memes (see link for assignment parameters). The presentations allowed the students the opportunity to comment on the film adaptation by focusing on the aspects that stood out to them.

Here’s a link to the course blog entry for that week.

Week 3: Remixable, Spreadable Hamlet

Over the weekend, I sent feedback to my students, reinforcing it in class to revise their memes, particularly if they contained any kind of potentially offensive language choices (there were a few cases) and to edit them for readability and spelling. In addition to the obvious reasons, I wanted them to revise them because they now have the assignment to share their memes on Twitter in a group performance titled “Hamlet: The Meme Edition.” Each day of the week, the students will tweet the memes from the corresponding act (Monday = Act I, Tuesday = Act II, and so on). Here’s a link to the assignment. So far, the #hamletmemes are a hit on Twitter and have been retweeted many times. The compiled tweets, organized by acts are available here.

During the week, we’re discussing other remixes and adaptations of Hamlet, including Twitter bots, a video game, and a choose-your-own-adventure version, all in the context of Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins’ et al. Here’s a link to the assigned material. The goal is to show my students how Shakespeare’s plays are part of public discourse and are therefore quotable, remixable, spreadable, memorable, and available for all kinds of performances on and off the stage.

This is their Hamlet.

Their reaction?


We presented the work live at Out Loud!. Here’s a link to the presenation slideshow.


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I ♥ E-Poetry Nominated for 2013 DH Awards

2013 DH Awards
Vote for I ♥ E-Poetry in the 2013 Digital Humanities Awards.

I ♥ E-Poetry has been nominated for the 2013 Digital Humanities Awards in the “Best DH project for public audiences” category.

Last year, I ♥ E-Poetry competed in 2012 DH Awards and was the first runner up in the “Best DH blog, article, or short publication” category. Back in 2012, the project was a bit different– a blogging performance in which I read an e-poem and wrote about it every day in a minimalist Tumblr designed for serendipitous or serial exploration. But 2013 saw several changes, especially when I concluded Phase 1 on May 2, 2013. Following the guidance offered by my Advisory Board, I moved the site to WordPress, changed its URL to iloveepoetry.com, and started to develop resources for audiences to better access the knowledge base it had become. I also opened it up to collaboration and guest entries with five CFPs, launching Phase Two, which brought in new contributors from around the world. For a detailed recap of the year, read I ♥ E-Poetry: Year Two Retrospective.

If you are new to this resource, read the About page, get to know its team, and explore its menu and sidebars, both of which offer deep access to its over 570 entries. Explore I ♥ E-Poetry and discover our loving obsession with language and how it inhabits digital spaces.

And if you like what it has to offer, support it with your vote.

Thank you!


Teaching Poetry header

Teaching Poetry in an Age of Digital Media

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.21.58 AMThis presentation is designed for the Teaching Assistants at UPRM, delivered on January 30, 2014. The presentation is full of links to resources, including slideshows and Prezis for previous talks, so I encourage readers to zoom a bit beyond the presentation slide to access the links available in almost every slide. The prezi is embedded below. Share and enjoy!


My Election to ELO Board of Directors


I have been elected to the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) to serve as a board member and Treasurer.

To be in such high regard by a group composed of some of the leading scholars and artists in my specialization is a great honor and  a milestone in my career.

My heartfelt thanks!

P.S. Inspired by a little joke by Nick Montfort, I created the animated GIF you see above to commemorate the occasion. I hope taking such liberties with the ELO Logo doesn’t get me fired on my first day ;-)



Leonardo Flores @ MLA 2014 Convention


I’ve prepared my MLA 2014 Convention calendar created as a convenience for me, and made public here for those interested in meeting up. I will be presenting at the Electronic Literature after Flash roundtable and performing a Bot Choral at the MLA Off-Site E-Lit Reading.

If you want to get together, don’t hesitate to contact me by e-mail, Twitter (@leonardo_uprm), or Facebook. I also have a phone number, available to my Facebook friends at this link.

See you @ MLA!


I ♥ E-Poetry featured in “Critical Making in Digital Humanities” Archive

My scholarly blogging project has been featured in an archive curated by Roger Whitson and Dene Grigar, Critical Making in Digital Humanities. The concept of Critical making will be discussed in a special session at the MLA Convention, but Whitson and Grigar offer a great starting point in their resource. And judging from the quality of projects archived, it’s quite an honor to be featured in the launch of this timely resource!


Performance: A Bot Choral

On Friday, January 10, I’ll be participating in the ELO’s MLA Off-Site E-Lit Reading at the Flaxman Library in Chicago. Here’s a link to the Facebook event invitation.

And here’s a description of the part I’ll be involved in.


(listed in alphabetical order):

  • Leonardo Flores
  • Mark Sample
  • Zach Whalen
  • Roger Whitson


This 10-minute performance will feature four scholars reading from a Twitter stream set to feature the output of multiple bots, including some created by the scholars themselves. Each reader will select several bots to read out loud, and the reading sequence will be determined by the curated Twitter stream, which will be displayed live on screen. The resulting juxtapositions should be both humorous and thought-provoking, with the individual readers’ voices lending continuity to the bots. During the performance, there will be a few moments in which a reader focuses on the text generated by a single bot, in the tradition of a solo riff.

This fun performance should raise awareness of a growing emergent e-lit genre: the bot.


New NEH proposal: “A World of E-Literature”

Today I submitted an NEH Collaborative Research Grants proposal to collaboratively write 530 I Love E-Poetry entries and a book manuscript in a 3-year period. Here’s the 1000-character summary from the proposal, titled:

This project seeks to use the publication and metadata structure of I Love E-Poetry to collaboratively produce a manuscript for a book titled A World of E-Literature. The team consists of scholars who possess expertise in the e-literature produced in their respective country, language, or region. Initially, each contributor will write and publish 30 to 50 entries as they survey the field while creating a valuable reference for the publication’s growing audience. Then each scholar or team of scholars will use their entries as raw material to write a chapter for the manuscript. This will allow them to better formulate the poetics of e-literature in their national, language, and/or regional focus. The metadata for each entry will allow for the creation of data visualizations and will inform the introductory and concluding chapters which will examine global connections across language, regional, and national boundaries.

This project has attracted a dream team of early career scholars to contribute their expertise on e-lit from Africa, and e-lit produced in several languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Italian, French, and German. Here’s a list of participants, by role:

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