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Reading Interfaces: Inquiries at the Intersection of Literature and Technology

Date: Wed. April 8th, 2015, 4:00 pm-7:30 pm
Location: Kelvin Smith Library, 1st Floor Clapp Reading Room - 11055 Euclid Ave., Cleveland OH 44106

A Baker-Nord Digital Humanities Event

Curated by Kristine Kelly and Allison Schifani


Free and open to the public, registration recommended. Registration Button

Electronic literature presents and generates literary performances that display, question, and critique ways of reading and modes of literary production in the digital age. This exhibition of electronic literature will display and discuss works of electronic and print literature and bring to attention the technologies central to their production. The accompanying colloquium will include public presentations on the history of the book, theories of electronic literature, and lectures by producers of electronic texts.

Keynote address: Joseph Tabbi

“Relocating the Literary: In Networks, Knowledge Bases, Global Systems, Material and Mental Environments”

Wednesday, April 8th, 4:30 p.m.

Joseph Tabbi’s keynote address to launch Reading Interfaces: Inquiries at the Intersection of Literature and Technology will be about ways that literary databases can make distributed collaborative encounters with scholarship more likely and better recognized – to the degree that nowadays inclusion in a database is the publishing event and the life of a scholarly work is defined through a trail of commentaries, ripostes, and (what is a sure sign of scholarly success) further work that is seen to be along similar lines. Citability alone, of course, is not in itself enough to ensure a change for the better in scholarly practices – no more than Aron Swartz’s recirculation en masse of JSTOR documents in the year 2011 has had a noticeable effect on the institution of peer reviewed journal publication. Apart from an emotionally powerful but passing highlighting of copyright issues, the Swartz intervention did not in itself cause anyone to question the boundaries of literature – the ways that scholarship and even authorship are currently relocating in databases, collaborative networks, and global systems of production. Insofar as the Swartz intervention never addressed the content of the stored journal articles (let alone authorial intentions), it demonstrates a non-evaluative, even a neutral disposition toward literary publications that are themselves, presumably, all about critique and close reading. In this sense, the Swartz intervention (and a tribute to Swartz by Kenneth Goldsmith that Tabbi will examine in the paper), is largely consistent with two powerful dispositions that have emerged in the context of newly networked knowledge – namely, Bruno Latour’s sense already in 2004 that the hard won disposition toward “critique” in the humanities had begun to “run out of steam,” and Franco Moretti’s advocacy of “distant reading” practices, now that the mass of non-canonical writings are available in databases.


About the speakers

Joseph Tabbi

Joseph Tabbi, Professor of American Literature and Electronic Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a leading authority in the field of Literature and Technology. He is the author of Cognitive Fictions (Minnesota 2002) and Postmodern Sublime (Cornell 1995), books that examine the effects of new technologies on contemporary American fiction. He is the founding editor of electronic book review (ebr), and has edited and introduced William Gaddis’s last fiction and collected non-fiction (Viking/Penguin). His literary biography of Gaddis, Nobody Grew But the Business, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in the Spring of 2015. His essay on Grafik Dynamo! (Armstrong/Tippett), appears online at Digital Humanities Quarterly, and another gallery essay on Mark Amerika can be found at the Walker Art Center’s phon:e:me site, a 2000 Webby Award nominee. Also online (at the Iowa Review Web) is an essay-narrative, titled “Overwriting,” an interview, and a review of his early scholarly work. Tabbi served from 2007-10 as president of the Electronic Literature Organization and remains active on the Board.



Organized and Curated by Kristine Kelly and Allison Schifani.

Kristine is a Lecturer in English and SAGES at CWRU. In addition to her recent work in media studies and electronic literature, her research and writing focuses on British colonial and contemporary Anglophone literature, with particular interest in colonial travel and emigration.

Allison is the Postdoctoral Scholar in the Digital Humanities at the Baker-Nord Center. Her work explores forms of urban practice and play that harness emerging technologies. Her most recent research has been published in The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and Media Fields.

Cosponsored with:

CWRU Department of English, Kelvin Smith Library, SAGES, and CWRU ITS




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