Continuous, not discrete: The mutual influence of digital and physical literature


Rowberry S (2020) Continuous, not discrete: The mutual influence of digital and physical literature. Convergence, 26 (2), pp. 319-332.

The use of computational methods to develop innovative forms of storytelling and poetry has gained traction since the late 1980s. At the same time, legacy publishing has largely migrated to using digital workflows. Despite the possibility for crossover, the electronic literature community has generally defined their practice in opposition to print and traditional publishing practices more generally. Not only does this ignore a range of hybrid forms, but it also limits non-digital literature to print, rather than considering a range of physical literatures. In this article, I argue that it is more productive to consider physical and digital literature as convergent forms as both a historicizing process, and a way of identifying innovations. Case studies of William Gibson et al’s Agrippa (a book of the dead) and Christian Bök’s The Xenotext Project’s playful use of innovations in genetics demonstrate the productive tensions in the convergence between digital and physical literature.

Agrippa: A Book of the Dead; Christian Bök; digital literature, electronic literature; performative literature; print versus digital; The Xenotext; William Gibson

Convergence: Volume 26, Issue 2

Publication date30/04/2020
Publication date online07/02/2018
Date accepted by journal08/12/2017