Exhibiting Electronic Literature Influences Scholarship

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Docent Gary Nasca showing an e-essay to a guest at "Avenues of Access" e-lit show at MLA 13.

Docent Gary Nasca showing an e-essay to a guest at “Avenues of Access” e-lit show.

Dene Grigar and I curated “Avenues of Access,” the second show of Electronic Literature at the Modern Language Association’s annual conference, this year in Boston, MA. Read our 10-page IMPACT REPORT to learn how many people have used our virtual gallery, and why exhibiting electronic literature face-to-face at a professional conference is influencing literary scholarship.


    Many visitors to the “Avenues of Access” exhibit at the Hynes Convention Center actively sought it because the 2012 e-literature exhibit positively affected their scholarship.
    Visitors lingered for upwards of an hour, even two, immersing themselves in the various generic stations and talking with curators and other scholars about connections between their own research and the exhibited e-lit.
    The natural affinity between e-literature and digital humanities manifested itself in conversations that are sparking scholarly collaboration on projects, speaking invitations and publications.
    Young scholars tell us they are revising their courses of study and dissertation plans to account for electronic works they encounter at MLA e-lit exhibits.
    Because e-lit is emergent and dynamic, scholars discovered new paradigms within primary source materials.
    E-lit’s platform and thematic diversity made it amenable to many traditional scholarly fields and encourages transdisciplinary collaboration.
    A number of visitors remarked that they now expect to encounter an e-lit exhibit at MLA. E-lit at MLA is another demonstration of how MLA leadership embraces new technologies and scholarly developments in the field.


Our mission was to introduce scholars of language and literature to electronic literature being produced right now around the world in multiple languages, and for scholars to apprehend the historical and material antecedents of this emergent work.

These goals helped us achieve our mission:

    Create a physical setting in which scholars new to electronic literature could “learn” how to engage it and share their experiences with expert readers, scholars, artists and enthusiasts;
    Provide scholarship and online resources to scholars for the purpose of further study of electronic literature;
    Encourage those interested in the creative arts to produce electronic literature;
    Demonstrate in the hands-on Antecedent and Creation Stations how one “makes” electronic literature;
    Raise awareness of electronic literature as a field with defined parameters so that scholars can assimilate it into the broader scholarly discourse about canonicity & periodization.


See also this Storify I built documenting the “Avenues of Access” exhibit in photos & Tweets.


Washington D.C., where Dene and I will curate the first show of electronic literature at the Library of Congress April 3-5, 2013!

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