Keynote Speakers



Friedrich W. Block, Germany («Affiliations» keynote)

Electronic Literature as Paratextual Construction. This presentation will discuss the initial hypothesis that the field of Electronic Literature has primarily resulted from systemic self-description and especially from paratextual framing. The field’s construction has been created with certain functional and rhetorical strategies. This argument will be developed exploring selected paratexts of archives, collections, and anthologies. This corpus will be diachronically contextualized, with special attention to aesthetic keywords such as ‘electronic’, ‘experimental’, ‘new’, or 'poetry'. Which concepts do we have to consider here? How have they been developed and presented? And how does Electronic Literature benefit from these forms of self-description?

Friedrich W. Block is Director of the Brückner-Kühner-Foundation and the Kunsttempel in Kassel, Germany. He is the curator of numerous exhibitions, literary and academic events, and he has also worked as an artist. Since 1992 he has been responsible for the p0es1s project on media poetry and since 2000 for the Kasseler Komik Kolloquium. His research concentrates on contemporary literature, language art, media poetics and humor. Block is co-editor of the Kulturen des Komischen series. Among others he wrote Beobachtung des 'ICH‘ (1999) and p0es1s. Rückblick auf die digitale Poesie (2015), edited Komik - Medien - Gender (2006) and Kunst und Komik (2016), and co-edited p0es1s. The Aesthetics of Digital Poetry (2004), Poiesis. Poems between Pixel and Program (Mhg. 2008), Komik zwischen Wandel und Institution (2013), and Aufs Maul geschaut. Luther und Grimm wortwörtlich (Mhg. 2016). www.brueckner-kuehner.de | www.kunsttempel.net


Eugenio Tisselli, Mexico/Spain («Communities» keynote)

The Heaviness of Light. Electronic Literature feeds intensively on last century's avant-garde, which  claimed art's autonomy from other realms of human activity. However, in this talk, I will argue that it is no longer feasible nor desirable to understand art and literature as self-sufficient spheres of praxis, as ends in themselves. It is rather necessary to think about electronic literature differently, in composition with the world, and to do so I will propose a map of potentialities in which I will identify two of the many possible paths: containment and pharmacological thought. My personal experience as a simultaneous member of different communities within electronic literature, as well as a renegade, has taught me that the first path can hardly lead to a profound and relational inquiry about the field's implications, and that the second one may be much more fruitful. Yet following the way of pharmacology may imply an immersion into a paradoxical investigation about the current status of the digital tools we use in Electronic Literature, and their relation to the network of social, political, economic and environmental spheres. By way of conclusion, I will attempt to claim that connective thought and inter-translation can become key skills needed to achieve a pharmacological attitude towards creative praxis in the Anthropocene.

Eugenio Tisselli is a programmer, writer and researcher. As a programmer-writer, he has explored the different ways in which code influences our understanding of the world, and has attempted to write against meaning by focusing on the materiality of language. As a programmer-researcher, he has become engaged with social and environmental issues which have led him to develop platforms for the collaborative creation of community memories. He is a computer scientist, holds a master's degree in digital arts, and has received a PhD from the University of Plymouth after defending his thesis Reciprocal Technologies: Enabling the Reciprocal Exchange of Voice in Small-Scale Farming Communities through the Transformation of Information and Communications Technologies. He has presented his work in numerous conferences, festivals and exhibitions throughout the world. His writing-related work can be read at motorhueso.net, whereas his platform-based research may be accessed at ojovoz.net


Rita Raley, USA  («Translations» keynote)

Machine Writing: Translation, Generation, Automation. A recurrent neural network writes a screenplay for a film festival; automated reporting bots produce narrative content for everyday consumption; a patented automated writing system has issued myriad technical reports, medical treatises, crossword puzzle books, dictionaries, and genre novels; human-machine co-creations increasingly withstand the scrutiny of publishers, prize committees, and ordinary readers. Algorithmically generated content is now pervasive in our media environments: how do we know who or what is writing, and does it matter? What new aesthetic, philosophical, and political questions are raised by the many emergent forms of machine writing? How are writers and artists exploiting machine writing, and for what purposes? This presentation will highlight some of the generative works in the third volume of the Electronic Literature Collection, along with some of the works produced for the National Novel Generation Month (NaNoGenMo). It will then open up into questions of authorship and property, labor, the status and function of the “human,” and the contemporary techno-linguistic condition.

Rita Raley is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Tactical Media and co-editor of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2, which, along with recent articles on digital poetics, locative narrative, and algorithmic translation, showcases her work in the area of writing for networked and programmable media. She has also recently published articles in the edited collections Raw Data Is an Oxymoron; Comparative Textual Media; Global Activism; and Debates in the Digital Humanities. She has had fellowship appointments at the National Humanities Center, UCLA, and the Dutch Foundation for Literature in Amsterdam and was a Fulbright Specialist for ELMCIP at the University of Bergen, Norway. She currently co-edits the Electronic Mediations book series for the University of Minnesota Press and serves as Associate Editor for the new ASAP/Journal. She is at work on a book-length project on “the post-alphabetic future” and her keynote presentation will draw on this material.


Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, USA («Friends of the ELO» keynote).

ELO and the Electric Light Orchestra: Lessons for Electronic Literature from Prog Rock. This talk will presuppose a more than casual affinity between the Electronic Literature Organization and its seventies supergroup namesake, in the sense of a practice and tradition that is formally complex, artistically ambitious, technologically experimental, and commercially vexed. "We engineer surprises," as Stuart Moulthrop put it in a keynote at the 2016 conference in Victoria. Yet it is also a tradition that can be inaccessible and obscure--highfalutin, even. What are alternatives? Punk elit? Perhaps, but the talk will mainly seek to draw out the "everyday" of electronic literature in the sense of the rich variety of writing on screens not typically acknowledged as literary--*unsurprising* applications including word processing, blogging, and texting. At stake is not only the work of the elit label in the academy--where we knowingly leverage certain avant garde, progressive associations to claim legitimacy--but also the elusive popular reception and recognition of the literature this community creates.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies. He is also an affiliated faculty member with the College of Information Studies at Maryland, and a member of the teaching faculty at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. His most recent book, Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, was published by Harvard University Press in 2016; with Pat Harrigan, he also recently co-edited Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming from the MIT Press (2016). Kirschenbaum delivered the 2016 A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a past Vice President of the ELO. See mkirschenbaum.net or follow him on Twitter as @mkirschenbaum for more.