The development of German-language electronic literature


There are numerous essays and reviews on German-language electronic literature, which run from the mid nineties to the present day. Most of these texts, however, are written in German – a language that is no longer accepted and common as an universal language for science. There are only a few articles available in the current universal language of English.
How do we bring the rather diverse German-language scene of net literature to a closer attention of our European and American colleagues?
This definitely is no easy task, since today there are virtually no forums and archives of German-language net literature existing anymore. Therefore it may not be possible to get an accurate picture of the last 20 years’ net literature. Many sites and forums have been deleted from the net, while others remain virtually inactive for years and have to be perceived as internet archive corpses. A few are still active and provide material for current discussions. In order to present the overview of German language electronic literature, we filter out some historical lines that may explain better how the development of individual genres came about. A good starting point may be the very first experiments of authors with computers to generate electronic poetry, a subject the international community mostly agrees upon.

The following model of historical lines of development is suggested:

1 Concrete Experiments
2 Collaborative Writing and Authoring Environments
3 Hypertext: From Hyperfiction to Net Literature
4 Code Works
5 Blogging and more

This historical analysis shows that the five lines of net literature are based upon two prior German strands going back to philosophical, poetical and artistic experiments in the
1960s: On the one hand, the Stuttgart School by Max Bense with exponents Reinhard Döhl and Theo Lutz, the latter producing a first example of digital poetry in 1959. On the other hand, the computer graphics experiments of 1960 and the punched-card linker projects by artists Kurd Alsleben and Antje Eske in Hamburg.

I Stuttgart School or Group (Bense/Döhl/Lutz etc.) > Stochastic Texts
II Hypertext/ Mutuality (Alsleben, Eske) > Computer Graphics, Linker

The presentation for ELO Paris 2013 describes this model of lineage for the development of German-language electronic literature with selected samples. Each line is represented by an early and a recent example of electronic literature and poetry.