The Electronic Literature Organization will be holding a conference called its “The Future of Electronic Literature,” a title which may seem to express the organization’s mission; however, recent initiatives, such as the Preservation, Archiving, Dissemination (PAD) project, have focused more on the preservation (ostensibly “the past”) of electronic literature. Surely “The Future of Electronic Literature” will have to address the future of ELO. Initiated in 1999, the ELO has been one of the foremost organizations for electronic literature. In fact, aside from the now defunct trAce (which has morphed into Writing and the Digital Life), it is difficult to find a more visible hub of electronic works of literature and poetry.  But exactly how visible is that?  More importantly, what will “The Future” hold?

Part of the future of ELO stems from its recent move to the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at University of Maryland where Matt Kirschenbaum is the faculty adviser. Nonetheless, the organization conceives itself as a network with multiple academic nodes, exploring new connections with the University of Iowa while maintaining a foothold (little toe?) at UCLA, largely in the form of N. Katherine Hayles.  Notably, on the other hand, there is only one conference on the horizon and that is at the University of Maryland.  Its panel schedule gives some sense of what “future” ELO will consider.

One “Future” panel will explore international electronic literature, featuring Sandy Baldwin, Laura Borras Castanye, Bertrand Gervais, Juan B. Gutierrez, Jill Walker, and myself.  Hence, looking beyond the present will involve looking beyond England and the Americas towards other countries and languages.  While the group has had members from several nations, co-founder Scott Rettberg’s move to Scandanavia follows a larger trend of elit out into the rest of the globe.

A Grand Text Auto intensive panel, “Process-Intensive Literature,” drawing its name from Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s doctoral work, will feature Noah, fellow GTxA bloggers Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg, along with Rob Kendall, Talan Memmott, and Stephanie Strickland. Noah’s dissertation makes some definitive move towards taking elit beyond cybertext, and no doubt this panel will add force to that movement.

The heavy-hitters, including the two key-notes, will cover the remainder of “Electronic Literature in the 21st-Century.” Staring towards the horizon will be the luminaries: Kate Hayles (keynote), Margie Luesebrink (past President), Thom Swiss, Ken Thibodeau (keynote), Emily Warn, and Josh Weiner.

An important part of any ELO event, formal or impromtu, are the readings of works. For “The Future” conference, artists will participate in the open mic/open mouse. The blog for the conference offers the most up-to-date list of presenters. I will read from my work-in-progress, “a show of hands.”

In a final move towards the future of ELO, Thom Swiss, President of ELO, will pass the electronic crown or torch to Joe Tabbi, editor of the electronic book review and new media artist and critic in his own right.

Below is the official announcement.

Registration is now open for the Electronic Literature Organization and Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities’ Thursday, May 3rd public symposium at the University of Maryland, College Park on The Future of Electronic Literature:

The symposium is co-sponsored by the University Libraries, Department of English, and Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Maryland.

Registration is free for ELO members and University of Maryland students, staff and faculty; others, including members of the general public, are asked to pay a very modest fee. ALL ATTENDEES MUST, HOWEVER, REGISTER. Space is limited, so reserve early!

Keynotes are N. KATHERINE HAYLES (UCLA) and KENNETH THIBODEAU (National Archives), but that’s just the beginning of the list of terrific people who will be in attendance:

* Sandy Baldwin (West Virginia University)
* Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)
* helen DeVinney (University of Maryland)
* Neil Fraistat (University of Maryland)
* Bertrand Gervais (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)
* Juan B. Gutierrez (Florida State University)
* Rob Kendall (Independent Writer and Scholar)
* Matthew Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland)
* Mark Marino (University of Southern California)
* Talan Memmott (California State University Monterey Bay)
* Nick Montfort (University of Pennsylvania)
* Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway)
* Susan Schreibman (University of Maryland)
* Stepahnie Strickland (Independent Writer and Scholar)
* Thom Swiss (University of Minnesota)
* Joe Tabbi (University of Illinois-Chicago)
* Jill Walker (University of Bergen, Norway)
* Noah Wardrip-Fruin (UCSD)
* Joshua Weiner (University of Maryland)

Panels will be devoted to procedural or process-driven writing, the international electronic literature scene, and electronic literature in the 21st century. A complete schedule for May 3rd is available at the URL posted above.

There will also be an open mic/mouse on the evening of Wednesday, May 2, starting at 6:15 in Art/Soc 2203. Many of the symposium attendees will be reading/performing from their current and favorite works of electronic literature, and everyone will be welcome to take a turn at the mic/mouse. A great way way to encounter this exciting body of writing for the first time. The open mic/mouse is free and open to the

5 Responses to “ELO May at MITH (2-3 May 2007)”

  1. 1 Matt K.

    Mark is too modest to mention he played a key role in helping organize the international panel, putting us in touch with several of the participants . . .

    Mark, nice post. Couple of quick clarifications: “The Future of Electronic Literature” was originally only a place-holder title, but as sometimes happens the name stuck. We don’t imagine for a moment we can seriously cover the entirety of the field’s future(s) in a single day of discussion. Regarding future conferences though, I believe they’ll be some exciting news at the symposium. I can tell you you’ll have a shorter distance to go.

    Preservation is still an important part of what ELO does, especially since it’s a particular interest of mine and others at MITH. We also expect to have news to announce on several of those fronts at the symposium. But it’s not the sum total of ELO. At the end of the day, ELO is a facilitator, a vehicle, for what individuals (and collectives) want to work on. The best recent example of this is undoubtedly the Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 1 (which to me is an project that combines perspectives on the past with a path to the future), and plans are actively underway for Vol 2.

    See you in a few weeks!

  2. 2 Mark Marino


    Thank you for the response. It sounds as if the conference will live up to its title and speak to the future of ELO and by extension a particular branch of elit.

    Let us know more about Vol 2. especially for our writerly readers who would like to submit.

    Congratulations on your recent tenure, by the way. Well deserved! Well won!

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