Stefans: Language as Play

Brian Kim Stefans shares a handout discussing the tropes we see in literature. The talk serves as both an overview of criticism and as a survey of the horizon of our current vision. The “Holy Grails” of Electronic Literature he identifies struck me as particularly apt:

1. Writing Without the “Author”: To write a piece that can be read several different ways – none predetermined by the “author” – which will provide distinctive, compelling reading experiences each time – that is, displacement of the “author” onto the algorithm.
2. Reading Beyond the “Page”: To write text for an environment that serves a textual function at nearly all times while maintaining the illusion of a dynamic, three-dimensional, processed space that is moving as far away from the “page” as possible.
3. Writing/Reading as Gameplay: To create a programmed object that serves equally as a piece of literature and which also serves as a “game” with all the “fun” implied in such a title — that is, to in­corporate the user completely into the world of algorithm and the world of the screenspace.

Stefans also includes 7 “crises,” including crisis of signification i(n which the word becomes split from it’s meaning), crisis of eschatology (in which we don’t know where we are in the story), and crisis of subjectivity (in which point of view is skewed)