Archive for March 2010


Engberg: “Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media”

March 27th, 2010 — 04:01 pm

This (rambling overview) post examines Maria Engberg’s (2007) doctoral thesis: “Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media”  for several reasons: first, I found her name referred to on the ELMCIP “Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice” website (and since she is one of a handful of principal investigators on a grant that just got a million euros for a 3 year study on digital literature,  I got curious about folks listed as collaborators and googled them); second, I found her university website and wrote to her requesting a copy of her thesis which she kindly forwarded; and third, because the thesis (as I read it or am reading it) represents a thorough insightful overview of a majority of the contemporary digital poetry theorists and in-depth readings of some key works from the 1996-2004 era. (I also watched a video presentation synopsis by Maria); and fourthly (and perhaps irreverently and irrelevantly) I haven’t posted here in a while and this competent thesis on digital poetics formed a necessary provocation to review and compare my own thought against someone who has traversed the path before me.

The thesis begins with clarity (a clarion call):

“The present dissertation studies digital poetry, a literary practice that so far has been given scant attention in literary scholarship. I seek to articulate an analytic method grounded in close readings of selected poems as materially instantiated and experienced by a reader….digital practices and poems are at the forefront of a cultural moment which will have a great impact on how literature is created and studied.” (p. 1)

The claim of “a cultural moment which will have a great impact” may seem obvious to those of us working within digital gravity (where the capabilities and potentialities of digital media are swiftly emerging), but it remains contentious to some members of the traditional literary establishment which continues to consider the book and word in static printed form as the only medium for literary values. From the perspective of a digital poetry practice, traditional literature poised precariously (like a vertical airplane balanced on the head of a nano-pin)  is on the edge of an osmotic transformation: a metamorphic process that involves accepting time-based (film, video and special fx) kinetic media as capable bearers of literary meaning. Inclusivity of these media as augmentations into literature will not as some traditional critics argue weaken literature’s strengths but surely will enhance them, allowing new arborescent capacities and forms to sprout from infertile interstitial inter-medial plots of language.     Continue reading »

Comments Off | Uncategorized