Reading Digits – Haptic Reading Processes in the Experience of Digital Literary Works

Tese de Doutoramento de Diogo Marques, Materialidades da Literatura, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Coimbra. [Abstract. Ligação para PDF]

Description > Author: Diogo Marques | Publication Type: Book (Ph.D. dissertation) | Language: English | Year: 2018 | University: Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Coimbra/ Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra | URL:

Abstract > The intensification of tactile/haptic research by academia and the digital technology industry, has given rise to several instrumentalizations of the adjective haptic, often contradicting an entire philosophical haptological tradition, going back to Aristotle and allowing us to think of the haptic from a multisensory perspective capable of destabilizing the idea of pure sensory modalities. On the one hand, such intensification is evidenced by the ubiquity of digital technological devices that call for interaction through touch and gesture as tactile/haptic functions necessary for experiencing digital content. On the other hand, it may be seen in the increasing demand for tangibility between human and machine, particularly through sensory experiences made possible by virtual/augmented reality, as well as, mixed reality/virtuality platforms. Such intense literalization of the haptic also, paradoxically, ends up reinforcing the existence and primacy of a visual culture inherent to an ocularcentric society. It is in line with this haptological tradition, as well as through the recovery of a multisensory perspective explored by a series of avant-garde artistic practices that permeate the history of twentieth-century art, that I propose to (re)think digital literary works via means of an alternative and operative redefinition of haptic drawn from the metamedial and intermedial specificities of current digital poetic practices. Based on the mapping and analysis of carefully selected digital literary works, this research intends to understand how digital poetic practices make use of certain processes of haptic reading enabled by current digital technology, in order to explore and question the processes of writing and reading in media. In order to validate an argument largely based on the examination of ambiguities and tensions highlighted by the literary exploration of interface functionalities in arts and literature, this thesis will attempt to analyze the referred ambiguity, by showing a parallel between an inherent circularity of (multi)sensory perception and the way certain circular, or rather, spiral-like, trajectories, are able to be identified across multiple arts, artists and movements. All of this, of course, is put together via a process of dialectic subversion/disruption that characterizes multiple variants of experimentalism across the centuries. Moreover, doing so is a way of finding possible answers, or perhaps, raising new questions, regarding longstanding problematics pertaining to the relationship between tradition and innovation, from which the digital era is not exempt.