Kingston Roundtable

Janneke Adema offers a trip report from a recent roundtable meeting at Kingston University about the Future of Electronic Literature, focusing on a keynote talk by Jay David Bolter.

For a new media theorist, Adema seems strangely fond of the ghastly “snapshots” link annotations with their obnoxious pop-up thumbnails. A reader who is interested in “literature in the era of social and locative media” already knows what Wikipedia looks like.

“What unites creative practitioners and researchers," Adema argues, "is their exploration of the word and the abstract character of language and its materiality in different media in an experimental practice. The main question remains: why isn’t this work part of a more mainstream platform?"

The question answers itself: experimental practice in different media is, by definition, outside the main stream. If it were part of a more mainstream platform — the stuff that Pepsi does, the stuff my 13-year-old niece does — it wouldn’t unite creative practitioners and researchers in an experimental practice.

Bolter’s key concern here, in Adema’s account, is the centrality of literature in the humanities. At the Future of Digital Studies last Winter, he memorably asked whether, in the future University, the English department will decline to the place Art History occupies today.

Thanks, Laurent Sauerwein, for the tip!