Scripting the Reader in Electronic Literature – An ASA Roundtable

I’m pleased to announce that they have accepted our proposal to present at the next American Studies Association (ASA) Convention, which will take place on November 6-9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Here’s some information.

  • Title: Digital Humanities Caucus: Scripting the Reader in Electronic Literature
  • Format: Roundtable Discussion
  • Keywords: digital humanities, electronic literature
  • Participants: Leonardo Flores (chair), Mauro Carassai, Jeff Knowlton, Jeremy Hight, Brian Kim Stefans, Jody Zellen, Samantha Gorman, A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz.

How do writers of electronic literature design, control, cast, or otherwise shape their readers’ experience and interaction? Do they reward certain choices and punish others? Do they design virtual environments with a psychogeography that influences their readers’ dérive? Is fun used as a mechanism for control in a scripted interaction?

This scholar and artist roundtable will examine multiple approaches to constructing, scripting, and controlling ideal readers of works of electronic literature. In Cybertext (1997), Espen Aarseth coined the terms cybertext to refer to works with feedback loops that allowed them to respond to reader input and ergodic to refer to works that required “non-trivial interaction to traverse.” This panel is concerned with ways in which writers, artists, programmers cast the reader’s role in their cybertexts and their strategies for creating meaningfully ergodic e-literature.

  • Leonardo Flores will begin the panel by providing an overview of the reader’s role in e-literary genres, using concepts from Espen Aarseth, Guy Debord, and others as key components in a theoretical framework for interaction.
  • Samantha Gorman’s talk will be about “Rhythms of Attention” in crafting reader/writer edits in cinematic works of expanded textuality. What is the balance between how the reader directs “cuts” vs. the illusion of control established by the author. The novel Pry ( will be presented as her practice-based research model for integrating and exploring reader vs. author rhythms of attention.
  • Brian Kim Stefans’ talk is titled “Establishing and Dispelling Ground in E-literature.” The concept of “ground” is important to many fields, including linguistics, philosophy, cognitive studies, film studies, graphic design, poetics and of course the visual arts. After describing “ground,” he’ll discuss his work “Scriptor,” an environment that enables the animation of every element of an individually crafted letterform (as opposed the manipulation of standard fonts).
  • A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz – This talk will explore the “lusory attitudes” (i.e. playfulness) of electronic literature readers. While Bernard Suits used this concept specifically to discuss games, A. J. will apply it more broadly to his own work, to argue that readers of electronic literature only ever abdicate some control, and only need to follow the rules insofar as those rules facilitate playful experiences.
  • Jody Zellen will talk about the relationship between the public and private viewing experiences of installation based works vs net art and mobile apps using personal projects as well as curatorial ideas as examples. The projects she will discuss include web projects “Spine Sonnet” and “Without A Trace” and mobile apps “4 Square,” “Urban Rhythms,” and “Spine Sonnet.”
  • Jeremy Hight’s talk will be about the history of experimental digital literature in relation to space in physical and textual spaces and will range from 34 north 118 west to his work in augmented reality poetry and upcoming narratives running on quantum mechanics.
  • Jeff Knowlton – “Writing in Langue vs. Parole,” or, scripting space and the reader’s movement as they construct meaning in the urban landscape while retaining agency in a structure not of their own making.
  • Mauro Carassai will address reading in digital environments from a philosophical perspective and illustrate how, from the point of view of Ordinary Language Philosophy, e-literary works often encourage users to engage in unusual “language-games” that recast reading into aspect-seeing, critical play, or full body gesturing.

Each panelist will present in 5-7 minutes. For brief bios on the participants, read the complete proposal document.

Thank you Susan Garfinkel for encouraging us to apply as part of the Digital Humanities Caucus.