Traversals: The Use Of Preservation For Early Electronic Writing

Hardcover | March 31, 2017

byStuart Moulthrop, Dene GrigarForeword byJoseph Tabbi

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Many pioneering works of electronic literature are now largely inaccessible because of changes in hardware, software, and platforms. The virtual disappearance of these works--created on floppy disks, in Apple's defunct HyperCard, and on other early systems and platforms--not only puts important electronic literary work out of reach but also signals the fragility of most works of culture in the digital age. In response, Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop have been working to document and preserve electronic literature, work that has culminated in the Pathfinders project and its series of "Traversals"--video and audio recordings of demonstrations performed on historically appropriate platforms, with participation and commentary by the authors of the works.

In Traversals, Moulthrop and Grigar mine this material to examine four influential early works: Judy Malloy's Uncle Roger (1986), John McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse (1993), Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl (1995) and Bill Bly's We Descend (1997), offering "deep readings" that consider the works as both literary artifacts and computational constructs. For each work, Moulthrop and Grigar explore the interplay between the text's material circumstances and the patterns of meaning it engages and creates, paying attention both to specificities of media and purposes of expression.

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Many pioneering works of electronic literature are now largely inaccessible because of changes in hardware, software, and platforms. The virtual disappearance of these works--created on floppy disks, in Apple's defunct HyperCard, and on other early systems and platforms--not only puts important electronic literary work out of reach but...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.56 inPublished:March 31, 2017Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262035979

ISBN - 13:9780262035972

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In their lucid and affectionate analysis of four canonical works, Moulthrop and Grigar explore not what electronic literature is, the inadequacy of the term revealing that impossibility, but its modes of performance through time and space. Traversals is an important cultural artifact, a necessarily partial and biased act of translation and preservation by practitioners of the art that not only provides a fascinating snapshot of the pioneering golden years of 'born-digital' writing, but also speaks to our uncertain future as human readers and writers.