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WRT’s Guide to MLA ‘07 at WRT: Writer Response Theory



WRT’s Guide to MLA ‘07


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Attendees of the Chicago 2007 MLA conference are invited to join Mark and Jeremy on Fri. Dec 28 as they participate in the poster session/exhibition “Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, Navigating”, as well as Jeremy’s presentation on the panel “New Reading Interfaces”. If you’d like to stop by and say hi during the conference, our sessions are a great place to do it.

Friday Dec. 28, 2007

250. New Reading Interfaces
12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Missouri, Sheraton Chicago
Program arranged by the Association for Computers and the Humanities
Presiding: Elizabeth Swanstrom, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara

317. Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, Navigating
3:30–4:45 p.m., Columbus Hall K and L, Hyatt Regency
Program sponsored by the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure of the Convention in conjunction with the MLA Committee on Information Technology
Presiding: Susan Schreibman, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

At New Reading Interfaces, Jeremy will be presenting on “Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface.” At Electronic Literature, Mark Marino will be presenting on “Beta Writer: Portrait of the Author as Early Adopter,” while Jeremy will be demonstrating “Sculpting E-Poetry in Fractal Space: ConTextTree.” Our abstracts are included at the bottom of this post.

Beyond our own modest contributions, these sessions are also jam-packed with other great participants. In New Reading Interfaces, Joseph Tabbi will be presenting on “Toward a Semantic Literary Web: Three Case Histories”, Elizabeth Swanstrom on “Reading Shaw’s Legible City”, Sarah Sloane on “Reading the Margins of The Magic Book”, and Victoria Szabo on “Texts in Virtual Contexts: Reading Scholarly Work in 3-D Environments”. In Electronic Literature, occasional WRT collaborator Jessica Pressman will be presenting with Helen DeVinney on “Exploring Electronic Literature”, Christopher Funkhouser on “Selections from Selections”, Davin Heckman on “Reading Unwritten Poems: Developing Critical Tools for Electronic Literature”, Elizabeth Swamstron on “Navigating Giselle Beiguelman’s ‘Esc for Escape’”, and Vika Zafrin on “RolandHT”.

For many MLA attendees, ’tis the season to stop celebrating the holidays and cram for presentations and interviews. Still beyond our own sessions there are a host of other exciting talks and events we are looking forward to, including the annual ELO meetup / happy hour. Below are presentations recommended by the Electronic Literature Organization, including an invitation to a happy hour:

Electronic Literature & Related Panels

This year’s convention features several panels (”New Reading Interfaces,” “Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, and Navigating,” and “Electronic Literature: After Afternoon”) that are explicitly focused on electronic literature, and several that are more tangentially related to the subject. Below is a mini conference guide focused on e-lit.

Thursday, 27 December

79. Persuasive Games
5:15–6:30 p.m., Toronto, Hyatt Regency
Program arranged by the Division on Literary Criticism
Presiding: Rita M. Raley, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
1. “Introduction to Procedural Rhetoric,” Ian Bogost, Georgia Inst. of Tech.
2. “War Games,” Rita M. Raley
3. “Guy Debord’s ‘Kriegspiel’: Nostalgic Algorithms in Late Modernity,” Alexander Galloway, New York Univ.

Friday, 28 December

215. Novel History, Media History
10:15–11:30 a.m., Atlanta, Hyatt Regency
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Media and Literature
Presiding: Ivan Kreilkamp, Indiana Univ., Bloomington
1. “Beyond Fashion: From the Nineteenth-Century Urban Mysteries Reader to the Cinema Spectator,” Sara Hackenberg, San Francisco State Univ.
2. “Ulysses Player Piano,” Paul K. Saint-Amour, Univ. of Pennsylvania
3. “Remediating the Modernist Novel: Judd Morrissey’s Digital Remix,” Jessica Pressman, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

250. New Reading Interfaces
12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Missouri, Sheraton Chicago
Program arranged by the Association for Computers and the Humanities
Presiding: Elizabeth Swanstrom, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
1. “Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface,” Jeremy H. Douglass, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
2. “Toward a Semantic Literary Web: Three Case Histories,” Joseph Paul Tabbi, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago
3. “Reading Shaw’s Legible City,” Elizabeth Swanstrom
4. “Reading the Margins of The Magic Book,” Sarah Jane Sloane, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins
5. “Texts in Virtual Contexts: Reading Scholarly Work in 3-D Environments,” Victoria E. Szabo, Duke Univ.

256. Professionalization in a Digital Age
1:45–3:30 p.m., Columbus Hall C and D, Hyatt Regency
A forum arranged by the Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession
Presiding: William Erwin Orchard, Univ. of Chicago
1. “Rethinking the First Book: Dissertations as Bits and Bytes,” Jennifer Crewe, Columbia Univ. Press
2. “New Media Scholarship: Implications for Graduate Study,” N. Katherine Hayles, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
3. “Digital Pedagogy: Taming the Palatiri,” Ian Lancashire, Univ. of Toronto (abstract available)
Respondent: W. J. T. Mitchell, Univ. of Chicago
For coordinated workshops, see meetings 373 and 472.

317. Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, Navigating
3:30–4:45 p.m., Columbus Hall K and L, Hyatt Regency
Program sponsored by the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure of the Convention in conjunction with the MLA Committee on Information Technology
Presiding: Susan Schreibman, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
1. “Exploring Electronic Literature,” Helen DeVinney, Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Jessica Pressman, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
2. “Sculpting E-Poetry in Fractal Space: ConTextTree,” Jeremy H. Douglass, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
3. “Selections from Selections,” Christopher T. Funkhouser, New Jersey Inst. of Tech.
4. “Reading Unwritten Poems: Developing Critical Tools for Electronic Literature,” Davin Heckman, Siena Heights Univ.
5. ” Beta Writer: Portrait of the Author as Early Adopter,” Mark Marino, Univ. of Southern California
6. “No Exit in Sight: Navigating Giselle Beiguelman’s ‘Esc for Escape,’” Elizabeth Swanstrom, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
7. ” RolandHT,” Vika Zafrin, Brown Univ.

373. Scholarship in New Media
7:15–8:30 p.m., Columbus Hall C and D, Hyatt Regency
A workshop arranged in conjunction with the forum Professionalization in a Digital Age (256)
Presiding: Markus Zisselsberger, Binghamton Univ., State Univ. of New York
1. “On Scholarship,” Matthew Gary Kirschenbaum, Univ. of Maryland, College Park (abstract available)
2. “On Electric Editing,” Dino Franco Felluga, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette
3. “On Pedagogy,” Todd Samuel Presner, Univ. of California, Los Angeles (abstract available)
4. “On Collaboration,” McKenzie Wark, New School

Saturday, 29 December

541. Electronic Literature: After Afternoon
3:30–4:45 p.m., Mississippi, Sheraton Chicago
Program arranged by the Division on Methods of Literary Research
Presiding: Neil Fraistat, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
1. “Picture and Book Remain: After Two Decades of Hypertext Literature,” Michael Joyce, Vassar Coll.
2. “This Afternoon,” Matthew Gary Kirschenbaum, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
3. “Play, Flow, and Mix: Paradigms for Electronic Literature,” N. Katherine Hayles, Univ. of California, Los Angeles

649. Sampling the Original: Rethinking Appropriation, Attribution, and Copyright
9:00–10:15 p.m., Plaza Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency
Program arranged by the MLA Committee on Information Technology
Presiding: Thomas C. Spear, Lehman Coll., City Univ. of New York
1. “Remixing Free Culture: Twentieth-Century Copyright in the Twenty-First-Century Classroom,” Kari M. Kraus, Univ. of Rochester
2. “Media-Enriched Critical Writing as Gray-Market Transgression,” Victoria E. Szabo, Duke Univ.
3. “You Can, but You May Not: Copyright, Scholars, and the Temptations of New Media,” Jeffrey Ankrom, Bloomington, IN

Sunday, 30 December

670. Annotated Bibliography: New Work in Literature and Science
8:30–9:45 a.m., Water Tower, Hyatt Regency
Program arranged by the Division on Literature and Science
Presiding: Henry S. Turner, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison
Speakers: Mark B. N. Hansen, Univ. of Chicago; Ursula K. Heise, Stanford Univ.; Megan Massino, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin Coll.; Joseph Paul Tabbi, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago

ELO Meetup at the MLA

As we have for the past several years, we are planning an informal meet-up for people affiliated with or interested in the Electronic Literature Organization at this year’s MLA conference. This year, we are planning on meeting at the “Big Bar” at the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency, after the “Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, Navigating” panel, from 5-6 PM on Friday, December 28th. We plan to converge on the bar and have a drink or two. Afterwards, for those who would like to continue the conversation and take advantage of the world’s best deep-dish pizza, we’re reserving some tables at a nearby restaurant. If you’re only planning on joining us for a drink, just show up at the Big Bar at 5PM. If you want in on the pizza, please send an email to Stefanie Boese (sboese2 at uic dot edu), indicating how many people plan to attend and your preference for sausage, spinach, or mixed vegetarian pizza. We’ll put the order in ahead, so we won’t have to wait long in the restaurant to eat. We will “go dutch,” splitting the bill evenly and paying in cash.

WRT abstracts

“Beta Writer: Portrait of the Author as Early Adopter,” Mark Marino, Univ. of Southern California

My presentation will focus on “Marginalia in the Library of Babel” and “a show of hands,” two in-progress electronic narratives I am working on. Adaptations of each are about to appear in New River and Hyperrhizome, respectively. This is a “poster” session with computers acting as the “posters.” These pieces emphasize questions of innovation and publication. Both stories were composed on new or nascent technologies. “Marginalia” uses Diigo. “a show of hands” uses Literatronica. In both systems, I was testing the limits and emailing the system designers with questions and concerns. At the same time, when I went to try to publish these stories in online venues, new obstacles constraints arose, particularly how to stabilize the systems reliably.

“Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface,” Jeremy Douglass, Univ. California, San Diego

In “Tag Clouds: Reading the Poetic Interface,” Jeremy Douglass theorizes tag clouds: web reading interfaces formed from dense clusters ‘clouds’ of weighted keyword links, or ‘tags’. The poetics of tag clouds are best understood when situated in a history of spatially distributed text art, from contemporary visualization and net.art (e.g. “TextArc,” Legrady’s “Making the Visible Invisible,” Fischer’s “Word News,” Khan’s “Net Worth,” Jean Véronis’ “-ogue”) back through earlier typographic experiments (e.g. the concrete poetry of Augusto de Campos and the Vorticism of Wyndham Lewis). While interfaces have become emblamatic of the contemporary ‘web 2.0′ internet era, tag clouds have been fundamentally misunderstood in recent scholarship. Both the close association of tag clouds with ‘folksonomy’ website communities (e.g. del.icio.us, Flickr) and the popularity of the misleading term ‘cloud’ have created a stereotype of tag clouds as reflecting a kind of aesthetics of prolific chaos. Yet, as a special kind of list (the aggregately weighed dense list), tag cloud interfaces are both highly utilitarian (in the Tuftian sense of information richness) and deeply poetic (in their superimposition of constraining order over a set of evocative juxtapositions). In tag cloud poetry, the poetics of proliferation and the system of software meet at the reading interface.

“Sculpting E-Poetry in Fractal Space: ConTextTree,” Jeremy Douglass

On the border between authoring and visualization, what common ground can we find between digital poetries based on the continuous line and text-based computer visualizations based on the atomic word? ConTextTree is both a series of eliterature artworks and an authoring framework for visualizing eliterature as clouds, streams, and fractal spaces made of words. The ConTextTree framework is based on context free grammars as used in design, and explores how the “context free” paradigm affects authoring. As with the ‘freedoms’ afforded by other digital paradigms (such as the freedom of hypertext fiction or the freedom of games), context ‘freedom’ is a two-edged sword: it constrains the author to a radical discontinuity of language, but simultaneously opens up the radical possibilities of authoring fractal literature. There is a tradition of poetic experiments that have emphasized unit and form over sequence and series, including Concrete Poetry, Dada, Vorticism, and even the “flowerishes” of Kenneth Burke. Contemporary text-based computer visualization artworks such as “Making the Visible Invisible” and “Word News” have generally emphasized the role of the artist as architect in structuring the presentation of an external source of textually information. Related works like “TextArc” and “txtKit” have primarily emphasized their role as providers of readings and interpretations in relation to prior texts. ConTextTree continues in this tradition, but explores the idea of text visualization as an original authoring metaphor. In doing so, it engages some of the consequences of authoring with context free design: writing as containing its own exhaustive logic - writing as acts of arbitrary inscription rather than managing strings of symbols - writing as concern with individual letters and their representations - writing as the possibilities of low-level random behaviors such as variable handwriting, errata, etc. In a sense, the logics of text and context free design are antithetical: one is fundamentally sequential, the other fundamentally anti-sequential. ConTextTree is one attempt to synthesize this dialectic into new possibilities.

Recommendations?

Have any invitations you’d like to extend to electronic textualists and digital humanists? Let us know!




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