ELit as experience

What a wonderful read through all of your blogs this past week. I must say that I had a clear feeling that many of you “turned a corner” in terms of your “warming up” to electronic literature. With the special pieces selected for consideration this week, you experienced elit a-new. While the field continues to push categories/boundaries, it has become for many of you a more immersive and emotional experience. And despite the formal innovation in terms of storytelling, you also expressed a newfound relatability and accessibility in your experience of elit work. You expressed the feeling of “being in the story” and awareness that elit can be a full “experience” rather than simply a reading assignment. I am very happy that this has become apparent to you so early on in our time together.

Our agenda slides:

High Muck A Muck & Queerskins

We opened class with the beautiful hypertext poem entitled High Muck a Muck, – a stunning collaborative work.  High Muck-a-Muck: Playing Chinese is an interactive poem, consisting of a website and eight videos which explore the narratives and tensions of historical and contemporary Chinese immigration to Canada. High Muck a Muck is most intriguing especially because it was formed through an interdisciplinary collaboration of nine Canadian artists and programmers including Fred Wah, poet, Jin Zhang, composer; Nicola Harwood, project director and designer; Thomas Loh and Bessie Wapp, video artists and performers:, Hiromoto Ida, dancer; Patrice Leung, filmmaker; Tomoyo Ihaya, visual artist and Phillip Djwa, creative technologist.  The convergence of so many gifted practitioners has produced an exceptionally rich and complex piece, which definitely pushes beyond the traditional confines of “text”.  

We walked through many of the most significant images/tropes of the piece while sharing a sense of the diverse options for navigation.  The piece explores the multi-lenses of diaspora and globalism while provoking us to think further about the impact of dreams steeped in the challenges of exile or migration.  We could all see the way in which embodiment (the body) is wrapped up in conflicted pasts and presents, and how the myths of immigration are often a gamble with many different resulting outcomes.  The final tone of the work is ambiguous and dispersed, with a haunting lack of resolve.  In other words, there will always be loss despite gains in this journey to a new world.

Thank you to Patricia for her thoughtful walkthrough of the haunting and emotional piece by Illya Szilak called Queerskins. A painful story of thwarted love and loss, Queerskins tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician from a rural Missouri Catholic family who dies at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Queerskins is a collage of remnants from Sebastian’s life. The reader “rifles through” the trace(s) of his life through multimodal artifacts-as-puzzle pieces. Themes include the human urge for transcendence via love, religious faith, suffering and redemption, sexual ecstasy, storytelling, and technology itself. Patricia had us consider both the way in which we navigate this work, the way we can read the meaning of the work, and the profound tragedy of a life clipped through familial repression, cruelties, and denial.

Your to-do list for next week:

Please read the “Bots” section of Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 3) and check out some of the BOT features in the mini-collection.  Kevin will present some bots and generate a discussion for us about generative literature and bots.

Please read Trope from Volume 2. Orella will present a walkthrough and discussion of this Second Life piece as well.

Please write your fourth blog post for #elitclass. Write on one (or both) of the two selections from Kevin & Orella. 

What are some of the significant textual elements?  How did you choose to navigate these texts?  What visual, sound, interactive elements left an impression?  What overall effect do these texts create?  What themes and symbolic language emerge in navigating the text? What is literary about the text?

And, just another reminder to tweet your blog posts to the class hashtag #elitclass each week and any other #elit reflections that you think are worthy of public notice.

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