McPherson Library, Special Collections & University Archives
University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.
From the Archives of Dene Grigar & Marjorie C. Luesebrink
Directed by Dr. Dene Grigar
It’s interesting to think about the process by which a field develops, the fertile combination of ideas, technologies, resources, and people that give birth to and sustain a different intellectual approach from what had already existed.
Situated during the Digital Humanities Summer Institute and the annual conference of the Electronic Literature Organization, this exhibit of historical archives from the collections of Dene Grigar and Marjorie C. Luesebrink explores the development of electronic literature (or e-lit), a field of study that emerged from experimental writing from the 1950s and evolved from the 1980s as a combination of practices from literature, art, and computation that was heavily influenced by hypertext theory and criticism. The artifacts selected for this exhibit are derived from two influential communities: The Electronic Literature Organization, founded in 1999 in the U.S., and the trAce Online Writing Centre, founded in 1995 in the UK. Academic books and essays from the late 1980s to the present, the legal charter designating ELO’s non-profit status, rosters from the two NEH seminars led by N. Katherine Hayles in 1995 and 2001 listing names of current e-lit leaders, programs and flyers from ELO and trAce conferences, examples of works of e-lit, and even costumes from performances by some of e-lit’s pioneers point to the fact that driving innovation––whether it is the development of a new piece of digital technology that allows us to author hypertext pre-web or the application of an idea like Borges’ forking path to digital context–is people, working alone and/or in combination with others tapping into and harnessing the power of ideas, technologies, and resources to create something new and enduring.