Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literary Structures, Interfaces and Genres

International conference at the Cultural Studies Research Center “Media Upheavals”

University of Siegen, Germany, November 20-21, 2008

Organized by Professor Dr. Peter Gendolla and Dr. Jörgen Schäfer

The conference is free and open to the public, no registration required

Using electronic and networked media has resulted in such serious changes in the relationship between “author”, “work,” and “reader” that it seems necessary to make revisions in the traditional models analyzing literary communication. The Siegen conference on The Aesthetics of Net Literature: Writing, Reading and Playing in Programmable Media (Nov 25-27, 2004) had already made clear that this triad has to be extended into the technical aspects of media: Literary processes emerge from techno-social networks, i.e. they materialize in the interplay between human and electronic “actants.” If in the past discussions centered mostly on those projects that were perceived by looking at the computer screen or that were controlled via keyboard and mouse, now man-machine interactions are organized by considerably more complex interfaces. The specific attention of this follow-up conference therefore will be focusing on the aesthetic processes of AI-controlled environments that occur in the physical realm between the interfaces of technical sensors or effectors and the human body. Electronic media take “body language” to a new level as well since more and more the whole body is involved in the media activity. Increasingly complex sensors (integrated into vehicles, clothes and environments) “realize”—hear, see, feel, in other words: measure—the movements of the body, its mimics and gestures. This “multimodal” body itself then also exchanges information with the “products” of this kind of technology. Such medial couplings and framings enable the co-operation of non-symbolic activities, symbolic language activities and algorithmic processes of computer systems. If it is true that semantics is always the result of intermedial transcriptions between media then this development affects all human behavior concerning linguistic signs and therefore also the aesthetic processes of perception and self-perception. In this context the contributions to this conference will refer to literary communication and strategies thereby interrogating how literary structures, interfaces and genres change regarding:

  • Locative Narratives, i.e. environmental, neighborhood and city projects with GPS-based media following literary patterns (e.g. travel- and adventure-narratives or detective stories like J.-P. Balpe’s Fictions d'Issy; S. Schemat’s Augmented Reality Fictions; Inter Urban by 34 North 118 West or S. Berkenheger/G. Müller’s Worldwatchers).
  • Immersive Environments (Cave or interactive camera-projection systems) in which reception does not only take place through the eyes alone but rather in which the whole body is “reading” and thereby recomposing already saved meanings or those that still have to be constructed (e.g. N. Wardrip-Fruin’s Screen; J. Cayley’s Lens; C. Utterback’s Text Rain or D.Small/T. White’s Stream of Consciousness).
  • Stagings of inner realms and environments in which real characters (from simple users to trained actors) and artificial ones (from avatars, software agents etc. to complex AI-programs) following quite classical dramatic patterns of activity are involved in dialogues (e.g. M. Mateas/A. Stern AR Façade).

Regarding the aesthetics of net literature therefore the question has to be asked whether we can continue talking of a specific migration of traditional literary forms into computer-based and networked media. Can we continue analyzing such examples as “literature”? In what way can the semantics of literary terminology, concepts and systems be retained or does it have to be revised? Can we still correlate the examples mentioned above with the three traditional genres?

Apart from this the performative projects mentioned above intensify the already difficult problem of the documentation/archiving of as well as the access to processes of electronic literature. Lastly, the conference also will address the problem of archiving and editing the rather transitory electronic literature, thereby attempting to advance the co-operation of current and planned databases, archives and editions.





Thursday, November 20, 2008, 9.30-12.50

9.30-10.00: Peter Gendolla & Jörgen Schäfer (Siegen): Welcoming Notes and Introduction

Panel I: Performance and the Emergence of Meaning (Moderator: Peter Gendolla)

10.00-10.50: Roberto Simanowski (Providence, USA): Event and Meaning: Reading Interactive Installations in the Light of Art History

11.10-12.00: N. Katherine Hayles (Durham, USA):  Behind the Screen: Implications of Database Construction  

12.00-12.50: Ludwig Jäger (Aachen, Germany): Epistemology of Disruptions: Thoughts on Some Principles of Cultural Semantics



Thursday, November 20, 2008, 14.30-18.10

Panel II: Literature between Virtual, Physical and Symbolic Space (Moderator: Jörgen Schäfer)

14.30-15.20: John Cayley (Providence, USA): Surface Text: Text as Surface in Immersive 3D Environments 

15.20-16.10: Noah Wardrip-Fruin (Santa Cruz, USA): What is Behind the Complex Surface? 

16.30-17.20: Rita Raley (Santa Barbara, USA): Locative Narrative: Figuring Urban Space in the Network Society

17.20-18.10: Anna Gibbs/Maria Angel (Sydney, Australia): Memory and Motion: The Body in Electronic Writing



Friday, November 21, 2008, 9.30-12.20

Panel III: Beyond Genre: Transformations of Narrative, Poetic and Dramatic Structures (Moderator: Roberto Simanowski)

9.30-10.20: Francisco J. Ricardo (Boston, USA): Framing Locative Consciousness

10.20-11.10: Jochen Venus (Siegen, Germany): Beyond Game and Narration: A Morphological Approach to Computer Game Analysis 

11.30-12.20: Friedrich Block (Kassel, Germany): How to construct the genre of Digital Poetry: A user manual



Friday, November 21, 2008, 14.30-17.20

Panel IV: Preservation, Archiving and Editing (Moderator: Patricia Tomaszek)

14.30-15.20: Joseph Tabbi (Chicago, USA): On Reading 300 Works of Electronic Literature: Is There a Literary Mainstream in New Media? 

15.20-16.10: Fotis Jannidis (Darmstadt, Germany): Scholarly Editing and the Net 

16.30-17.20: Ravi Shankar (New Britain, CT, USA): Retrospective and Barometer: A Decade of Drunken Boat 




Sponsored by:

German Research Foundation (DFG), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and University of Siegen







Conference venue:

University of Siegen
Am Eichenhang 50
57076 Siegen







Anfahrtsbeschreibung Artur-Woll-Haus (Universität Siegen)

Das Artur-Woll-Haus liegt in der Nähe der Universitätsstandorte „Hölderlinstraße“ und „Paul-Bonatz-Straße“ auf dem Haardter Berg in Siegen-Weidenau „Am Eichenhang“ Nr. 50.

Anfahrt mit dem PKW:
Siegen liegt an der A45 Dortmund-Frankfurt/M. Ab der Abfahrt „Netphen/Siegen“ erreichen Sie die Hochschulstandorte direkt über den Zubringer B62 „Hüttentalstraße“ (HTS) in Richtung Netphen. Folgen Sie den Hinweisschildern „Universität“. Sie erreichen unmittelbar den „Eichenhang“. Folgen Sie der Straße immer geradeaus. Auf dem Weg den Berg wieder hinunter befindet sich das Artur-Woll-Haus linker Hand (etwas hinter Bäumen versteckt).

Anfahrt mit Bus und Bahn:
Siegen liegt an der Bahn-Strecke „Dortmund-Siegen-Gießen“ (Station Siegen-Weidenau oder Hbf Siegen) und der Bahn-Strecke „Köln-Siegen“ (Hbf Siegen). Von beiden Bahnhöfen aus verkehren Busse der Linie L111 zum Haardter Berg/zur Universität bis zur Bushaltestelle „Am Eichenhang“ oder „Hölderlinstraße“.

Anfahrtsbeschreibung innerhalb Siegens:
Aus Richtung Siegen kommend...
fahren Sie über die Weidenauerstr. nach Siegen-Weidenau. Nun am Busbahnhof vorbei (liegt rechter Hand) ebenso an der Auffahrt zur HTS (liegt ebenfalls rechter Hand) und biegen die nächste Strasse rechts ab (unmittelbar hinter der Sparkasse, auf der Ecke der Kreuzung vorne rechts befindet sich das Computergeschäft "Bits & Bytes"). Die Straße heisst "Am Eichenhang". Dieser Straße folgen Sie über einen Bahnübergang und fahren immer geradeaus den Berg hoch. Auf Ihrem Weg nach oben folgen Sie bitte dem dort angebrachten Hinweisschild zum Artur-Woll-Haus, das sich nach ca. 100 m - 200 m auf der rechten Seite befindet.

Aus Richtung Geisweid kommend...
fahren Sie über die Weidenauerstr. nach Siegen-Weidenau. Auf der rechten Seite befindet sich ein VW Autohaus, an dem Sie vorbeifahren. Unmittelbar dahinter fahren Sie unter der HTS hindurch und biegen danach links in die Straße "Am Eichenhang" ab. Dieser Straße folgen Sie über einen Bahnübergang und fahren immer geradeaus den Berg hoch. Auf Ihrem Weg nach oben folgen Sie bitte dem dort angebrachten Hinweisschild zum Artur-Woll-Haus, das sich nach ca. 100 m - 200 m auf der rechten Seite befindet.

Aus Richtung Netphen kommend...
fahren Sie über die B62 in Richtung Siegen und biegen rechts ab Richtung "Universität". Dieser Straße folgen Sie und fahren über die nächsten 2 Ampelkreuzungen geradeaus weiter. Die Straße verläuft nun wieder bergab. Auf Ihrem Weg nach unten folgen Sie bitte dem dort angebrachten Hinweisschild zum Artur-Woll-Haus, das sich nach ca. 100 m - 200 m auf der rechten Seite befindet.






The following is a list of hotels that are within reach of the conference venue. We have provided links to hotels you could contact.

Conference Hotel

Best Western Park Hotel****
Koblenzer Straße 135
57072 Siegen (city center)
Phone +49 (0271) 33810
Fax +49 (0271) 3381450
Rates: Single room from 78,00 Euro, Double room from 93,00 Euro



Mid Range to Expensive

Ramada Treff Hotel Siegen****
Kampenstraße 83
57072 Siegen (city center)
Phone +49 (0271) 50110
Fax +49 (0271) 5011150
Rates: Single room from 70,00 Euro, Double room from 83,00 Euro

Hotel Garni Bürger***
mit Gästehaus
Marienborner Straße 134
57074 Siegen (city center)
Phone +49 (0271) 62551
Fax +49 (0271) 63555
Rates: Single room from 61,00 Euro, Double room from 82,00 Euro



Cheap rooms

DAA Trainotel
Birlenbacher Hütte 4
57078 Siegen (Geisweid)
Phone +49 (0271) 77513
Fax +49 (0271) 7751598
Rates: Single room from 45,00 Euro, Double room from 70,00 Euro

Hotel Garni Jakob
Tiergartenstraße 61
57072 Siegen (city center)
Phone +49 (0271) 232720
Fax +49 (0271) 2327211
Rates: Single room from 44,00 Euro, Double room from 73,00 Euro

Hotel-Gasthof Meier
St.-Johann-Straße 3
57074 Siegen (city center)
Phone +49 (0271) 250250
Fax +49 (0271) 2502525
Rates: Single room from 27,00 Euro, Double room from 49,00 Euro

Gaststätte Incognito
Gregor Kettner
Hundgasse 125
7072 Siegen
Phone +49 (0271) 20198
Fax +49 (0271) 20198
Rates: Single room from 26,00 Euro, Double room from 50,00 Euro





Prof. Dr. Peter Gendolla, Dr. Jörgen Schäfer, Patricia Tomaszek, Fariborz Mansouri

University of Siegen
Cultural Studies Research Center 615 “Media Upheavals”
D-57068 Siegen

Phone: +49-(0)-271-740 4929
E-mail: {gendolla | schaefer | tomaszek | mansouri}




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