Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Faculty Research Colloquium

The Department of English presents:
The Faculty Research Colloquium
The Elit Crowd: the impossible Community of
Electronic Literature
by Sandy Baldwin
“In the crowd the individual feels that he is transcending the limits of his own person.” – Elias Canetti

There is no community of writers using digital media but there is a crowd of writers on the surface of media. Writers using digital media have nothing in common, they are indifferent to and negate all difference of others in the crowd, and they relate through the fact of writing in and with a medium. Such writers are social, mobile, and ubiquitous, and such crowds possess the power of globalized, neoliberal, media systems. Considerable recent scholarly work seeks to map and understand the formation and dynamics of electronic literature communities. Such work in fact describes crowds of writers with great power and potential. Such crowds model invention through writing. The best-known example, the European ELMCIP project, uses electronic literature as a “model of creativity in practice,” where networks of writers and readers can scale to other communities and actor-networks of practice. Yet it is the “love of literature” that makes this crowd a community after all:  a community not of social, mobile, and ubiquitous media but of the asocial, the immobile, and the singular. Elit is literature because (in as far as) its failure (refusal?) as a product of global, neoliberal, media systems. In this talk I will examine current research on elit communities. I will re-situate that work in terms of the power of crowds writing on the surface of media. I conclude by discussing the conditions and possibility for a literary community in the elit crowd.

November 20, 2013
2:30 p.m., 130 Colson Hall

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