Escaping the Prison House of Language: New Media Essays in the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2

Prepress version of article originally published in Norwegian in Vagant 4/2010 as “Flukten fra språkfengselet”

The first Electronic Literature Collection was published in 2006. Including 60 works of electronic literature of diverse form and content, all published under one cover online and on a CD-ROM, the collection offered readers and educators a valuable resource, a set of works distributed freely under a Creative Commons license. The ELC provided teachers with a place where they could send students interested in exploring e-lit, and critics with a set of archived works around which they could gather their discourse – a set of common touchstones that served to help develop and refine a shared critical language about the emergent forms of literary practice.

The editors’ intention was not to publish a one-off anthology to form the basis for a canon but instead to launch a regular practice of periodically gathering, publishing, and making as widely available as possible curated collections of e-lit. A different collective of writers and critics, reflecting a different curatorial agenda, would edit each successive volume. In addition to reflecting a different aesthetic sensibility, each iteration of the Electronic Literature Collection would demonstrate changes in the nature of the artistic practice of electronic literature, serving as a sort of biennial exhibition for the field of electronic literature, showing transitions in literary and artistic practices in the field over time.Continue reading