Forward: Literature and Media

Introdução ao dossier especial sobre poesia digital organizado por Rui Torres para a revista ‘Romance Notes’, com textos de Manuel Portela, Pedro Reis, Débora Silva e Teresa Picos. [Ligações]

In > Romance Notes, Volume 51, Número 3, Chapel Hill, UNC Press, pp. 305-334, 2011. ISSN 0035-7995.

Abstract > The use of computers in the humanities in general and literary studies in particular raises invigorating challenges to the traditional roles of students, teachers, and theorists alike. In this context, the historical importance of experimental and innovative poetry (concrete, visual, etc.), which recognized, avant-la-lettre, the importance of the aesthetic function of language, seems to be now translated to the noteworthy solidarity between media poetry and the possibilities that the computer offers. In truth, many of the operations that the machine provides can be found in previous poetical practices: from collages to automatic writing.

In her article “UN COUP DE DÉS: LA LYRIQUE À VENIR“, Débora Silva provides an account of Mallarmé’s poetics and observes how this poet progressively moved his writing technique towards ellipse and conciseness. At the same time, she studies elements of fragmentation and discontinuity in his poetic language, articulating these with techniques later developed by contemporary poetry. The sense of constellation, as opposed to the linear and additive traditional organization of the poetic discourse, constitute the basic element of new expressive textual order.

In “PRIMÓRDIOS DA POESIA EM COMPUTADOR – ANOS 60, 70 E 80 DO SÉCULO XX“, Pedro Reis moves forward in time and approaches, in his historical account, the liberation from traditionally imposed constraints, by addressing the materiality of writing, namely the use of strategies grounded in creative processes which include random and combinatorial permutations. Reis thus proposes a well-informed archeology of the first steps taken towards a poetry performed by computers, providing examples from the 1960s and the 1970s.

The study of hypertext and its impact on the scholarly archive, which is increasingly published in electronic formats, also demonstrates a paradigm shift: from the archive as a classified collection of texts to the archive as a network of texts. Manuel Portela achieves such an endeavor in his article “BETWEEN CODE AND MOTION: GENERATIVE AND KINETIC POETRY IN FRENCH, PORTUGUESE, AND SPANISH“, by providing a theoretical and critical account of the author-machine intermediation in electronic textuality. In machine-assisted literary production, Portela argues, the dynamics between humans and computers articulate specific discursive structures. The author thus concludes that the study of electronic literature can contribute to a better understanding of the field of technological-based writing and reading, as well as to a better description of the relations between code, meaning, and culture.

Finally, Teresa Picos, in “CIBERCARTOGRAFÍAS DE LA CIUDAD, ARQUITECTURAS LÍQUIDAS EN EL CIBERESPACIO”, refers in her article to the emergence of anti-narrative and artistic alternatives which contribute to a rethinking of the theme of space in literary works. By studying virtual space as interactive and networked, she presents examples of modulated structures in contemporary works that help us better understand the way by which cybertexts may articulate a new range of features previously unexpected.

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