When one first encounters digital literature, getting one’s bearing in this new and contested
zone can be a challenge. Katherine Hayles’ introductory piece should help us to start off on
the right foot. The creative work that goes on under the labels of e-poetry, hypertext fiction,
digital literature, netart, new media etc. is varied. One way to think about the adventure of this
course is to imagine that your task is to create a map of an emerging field (or a map of several,
overlapping and contested fields) for yourself.

Literature has been directly engaged with technological change and its mediation of language
for at least the duration of the modernist period—from telegraph, radio, magazine, newspaper
and book typesetting, to the fax, tv, personal computer, desktop publishing, networking, and
digital multi-media production. If we remember that alphabetic writing and the printing press
are themselves technologies, then this engagement with change dates back even further. This
semester, we will consider the poetics of what has been variously called digital, code, electronic
or new-media literature from experiential, aesthetic, theoretical, and historical perspectives.
I hope to acquaint you with current digital practices, leading you toward becoming a fluent
reader/viewer/user, while buttressing these engagements with research into the development
of new media as a textual art. Our foci will oscillate between close encounters with new media
artifacts and more distanced reflections on theoretical and historical issues—supported by
assigned critical readings, student presentations, and collaboration. We will communally work
through a number emerging E-lit “classics” and “foundational” critical texts with the aim of
enabling you to develop a conceptual framework for producing review-quality critical writing
about digital literature and sufficient expertise to introduce it into your teaching.