An Exhibit of Historical Archives of Electronic Literature

general room

An Exhibit of Historical Archives of Electronic Literature
6-17 June 2016
McPherson Library, Special Collections & University Archives
University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.
From the Archives of Dene Grigar & Marjorie C. Luesebrink
Curated by Faculty & Participants of DHSI 2016 Introduction to Electronic Literature


Curatorial Statement

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.


Installing books and hypertext e-lit in Station 1

Station 1: Hypertextuality & the Rise of a Field

(Glass case, 70″ x 33″, to left of the front door)

Essays & Books in Chronological Order:

Jay David Bolter. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991.

George Landow. Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1992.

Brenda Laurel. Computers as Theatre. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1993.

Janet Murray. Hamlet on the Holodeck. The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. NY, NY: Free Press, 1997.

Espen Aarseth. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1997.

Katherine Hayles. Writing Machines. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002.

Joseph Tabbi. Cognitive Fictions. Minneapolis, MN: The U of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Noah Waldrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. The New Media Reader, with Introductions by Janet Murray and Lev Manovich. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.

Katherine Hayles. Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame, IN: The U of Notre Dame Press, 2008. 

Early Works of E-Lit

bpNichol. 1984. First Screening. 2015. CD.

Judy Malloy. 1986-1988. Uncle Roger, Version 3.3. San Francisco, CA: Art Com Electronic Network, 1988. Floppy Disks. Macintosh.

Michael Joyce. 1987. afternoon: a story (second folio). Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1990. Diskette. Macintosh.

Stuart Moulthrop. Victory Garden. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1991. Floppy Disks. Macintosh.

John McDaid. Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1992. Floppy Disks. Macintosh.

Deena Larsen. Marble Springs. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1993. Floppy Disks.

Shelley Jackson. Patchwork Girl. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1995. Floppy Disks. Macintosh. (From the Luesebrink Archives).

Stephanie Strickland. True North. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1997. Floppy Disks (with accompanying print book of the work).

Hypertext Authoring Software:

Hypercard Basics. Apple, 1990. Diskette.

Storyspace: Hypertext Writing Environment, Versions 1.12, 2.02. Eastgate Systems, Inc., 1997. Floppy Disks. (Box set)


Franci Greyling, Marjorie Luesebrink, and Rachel Alatalo with Station 2 archives

Station 2: The Birth of the Electronic Literature Organization

(small glass table, 42″ x 20″, directly across from the front door)

Documents in Chronological Order:

Katherine Hayles. “Literature in Transition: The Impact of Information Technologies.” Syllabus and Class roster. UCLA, June 27-August 18, 1995. (From the Luesebrink Archives).

ELO Articles of Corporation. State of Illinois, September 3, 1999.

ELO By-Laws, September 1999.

ELO Brochure, circa 1999.

Katherine Hayles. “Literature in Transition: The Impact of Information Technologies.” Syllabus and Class roster. UCLA, July 3-August 9, 2001.

ELO Letterhead, with Envelop, circa 2000-2003. (From the Luesebrink Archives).

ELO Membership Letter, circa 2000-2003. (From the Luesebrink Archives).

Assorted Eastgate Systems, Inc. Brochures, Flyers, and Newsletters, 1994-1996. (From the Luesebrink Archives).


Alois Sieben & Alexa Merriam creating Station 3’s installation

Station 3: Practicing E-Lit

(Triple glass case and cabinets, 30” x 27” x 30”, located directly across from the front doors)

Case 1: ELO Takes Root
Case 1A: ELO Sweatshirt (From the Luesebrink Archives)
Case 1B: Production and Cross-Pollination

Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merrilee Proffitt, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, and Noah Waldrip-Fruin. ELO PAD Committee Final Report: Technology/Software Committee. March 27, 2003.

Nick Montfort and Noah Waldrip-Fruin. Acid-Free Bits. UCLA, June 14, 2004.

Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1. CD in Clamcase.

Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1. Mailer. (From the Luesebrink Archives)

Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2

ELO 2002: The Proceedings of the Electronic Literature Organization’s State of the Arts Symposium. UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 2002.

ELO 2007: The Future of Electronic Literature. Flyer. May 3, 2007. University of Maryland, College Park, MD

ELO 2008: Visionary Landscapes. Conference Program, Participant’s List, and List of Works of the Exhibit, The Eastgate School, Voyager Artists, and Independent Producers. May 29-June 1, 2008. Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, WA.

ELO 2014: Hold the Light. Program. June 19-21, 2014. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Milwaukee, WI

ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature. Conference Program and Festival Catalog. Anne Karhio, Lucas Ramada Prieto, and Scott Rettberg. August 4-8, 2015. Bergen, Norway.

Computers and Writing 1993. Conference Program. May 20-23, 1993, Ann Arbor, MI.

ALLC-ACH 1996. Program. June 22-25, 1996. University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

E(X)literature. List of Conference Presenters. UC Santa Barbara, April 2003. (From the Luesebrink Collection)

Nomadic Transitions. Conference Program and Brochure. April 10-12, 2003. Hochschule fur Gestaltung und Kunst Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

DAC 2005. The Proceedings of the 6th DAC Conference and Conference Program. December 1-3, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Case 2: Emergent Forms: Participatory Storytelling as Case Study
Case 2A: Invisible Seattle costume
Case 2B: Invisible Seattle books

Invisible Seattle: The Novel of Seattle, by Seattle. The True Text of Version 5.2, Set from Copies of the Original Disks. 1983-1987.

Rob Wittig. Invisible Rendezvous: Connection and Collaboration in the New Landscape of Electronic Writing. Hanover, NH: Wesleyen Press, 1994. With hand-drawn picture by the author, December 2011.

Case 3: Art as Active Engagement
Case 3A: Promotional ephemera

Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Michael Joyce & Carolyn Guyer Reading. July 18, 1996. (From the Luesebrink Archives)
The Boston T1 Party. ELO Reading. Boston Public Library. April 25, 2001. (From the Luesebrink Archives)
ELO Prize. Announcement Flyer. 2001.

Case 3B: The Process of Artistic Production: Califia

Califia. Announcement Card.
Califa. Announcement for Author Reading, sponsored by Second Tuesday. Tuesday, October 10 (no year) (From the Luesebrink Archives).
Califia: A Hypertext Novel. Author’s Beta 1 Version. Circa 1997. (From the Luesebrink Archives).
Califia: A Hypertext Novel. Author’s Beta 2 Version. 1998
Califia: A Hypertext Novel. Watertown, MA: Eastgate Systems, Inc., 2000. (From the Luesebrink Archives)
Califia Promotional Flyer (2 pages). (From the Luesebrink Archives)
M.D. Coverley Flyer of List of Works. (From the Luesebrink Archives)

Jennifer Dellner & Nadia Timperio looking over the archives to install in Station 4

Station 4: The Impact of the trAce Online Writing Centre on Digital Writing

(Glass cabinet, 75” X 27”, to the right of the front door)


Sue Thomas. Correspondence. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1991/1993.

Sue Thomas. Hello World: Travels in Virtuality. York, England: University of York/Raw Nerve Book Unlimited, 2004.


trAce Ballpoint Pin.
trAce Computer Screen cleaner.
trAce Online Writing Centre. Assorted Flyers.

frAme: Online Journal of Culture and Technology. Business Card, circa 2000s.

Incubation 2. CFPs (Grigar’s), Nottingham Trent U, Nottingham, England, 2002.

Incubation 3. Booklet. Delegate List. July 12-14, 2016. Nottingham Trent U, Nottingham, England, 2003.

Writers for the Future: TEXTLab. Evaluation Form, Grigar’s Presentation Notes for Fallow Field, Gilliam’s Sketch of The Holy Rood, Schedule, Booklet.

The team

Participants in the installation of the exhibit included: Rachel Alatalo, Samina Gul Ali, Brian Cameron, Vanessa Ceia, Tiffany Chan, Zach Coble, Jennifer J Dellner, Lai-Tze Fan, Franci Greyling, Gregory P. Lord, Chloé Brault MacKinnon, Allison Murphy, Julia Polyck-O’Neill, Jon Saklofske, Ariane Savoie, Alois Sieben, Stephen Slessor, Nadia Timperio

Dene Grigar is Director and Professor of the CMDC Program. She specializes in electronic literature, emerging technologies and cognition, and ephemera.