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Writing, by all means: YouTube, a new literary (cyber)space

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

9/03/2017

Erika Fülöp ‘Digital’ or ‘electronic literature’ is usually understood as an experimentation with (mostly) written texts or words that involve hyperlinks and interactivity, multiple paths and visual manipulation, and all of its most cited classics are in English. There are thriving online subcultures, however, which classify as electronic literature according to the definition of the Electronic Literature Organization (‘works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer’) and which are neither hypertext fiction nor in English. Blogging was the first to open a new, electronic space for literature in the late 90s, and while text-based blogs continue to exist, established authors as well as amateur and aspiring creative writers also increasingly engage in hybrid creative practices online. In particular, YouTube has emerged in the past few years as a space not only for funny cat videos and cooking vlogs, but also for creative experimentation with the medium and exchange and community building around it. This paper offers a peek into the little known riches of the French literary vlogosphere and videopoetry on YouTube. The best known French pioneer of web-based literature and keen explorer of its continuously expanding potential, François Bon is now also an important hub in a growing network of literary video sharing. Taking his playlists and reflective discourse on this experimental space as a starting point, I will invite you for a little flanerie in this virtual labyrinth. Introducing a handful of works by authors such as Jean-Pierre Balpe, Laura Vazquez, Noémi Lefebvre, Arnaud Maïsetti, Stéphen Urani, and Arnaud de la Cotte I propose a series of comparisons and contrasts with film and generative poetry and consider the place of writing and of the ‘literary’ in these artifacts. This will be complemented with reflections on the material conditions of this form of art, its dependence on online platforms and social media, as well as its appropriation of these means for the purposes of literary creativity with a potential to shape a grassroots culture in line with Bernard Stiegler’s ideal of transforming passive social networks into networks of actively contributing amateurs.

External organisation (External collaborations)

NameUniversity of Aberdeen
Location