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Beyond Binaries: Continuity and Change in Literary Experimentation in Response to Print and Digital Technologies

While many critics have compared the current digital age in communications media with the print revolution that began in the 15th century, these discussions have focused primarily on the differences, as opposed to the similarities between the two moments in history (Bolter, Landow, Hayles). As an author and critic involved in exploring new approaches to digital fiction, I, too, am keenly aware of the distinct differences between the age of print and the current digital age. Nevertheless, I have also been struck by many similar concerns in the specific types of literary experimentation taking place in response to new authoring and publishing technologies today with those undertaken in the past in response to print technology. In this paper, I consider specific instances of experimentation that arose in response to print technology in works of fiction published in the eighteenth century (Richardson, Pope, Sterne) with literary experimentation in response to digital technologies (Moulthrop, Montfort/Strickland, Rodgers).