By Dene Grigar, Professor & Director, Electronic Literature Lab
280 women e-lit pioneers and visionaries hailing from 30 countries, 162 of which were featured on Twitter shout outs: This was the final tally for the celebration of women e-lit pioneers and visionaries the Electronic Literature Lab held during Women’s History Month. (See Appendice) The event generated from the simple desire to honor women, tell their stories, amplify their deeds, and encourage others to know about them. For the Electronic Literature Lab, such an event exemplifies one aspect of the mission of a feminist lab.
That said, the impetus for this particular approach to the event––that is, honoring women e-lit pioneers and visionaries over the course of the month of March via tweets on Twitter––was the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. By the end of February the first case in the U.S. was reported (a man in my own state who died on February 29); the death toll in China had grown worse than the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s; the disease received an official name; & all of Italy was on lockdown.  The decision to create an event that honored women in light of a world-wide epidemic was, therefore, a mindful one aimed documenting women’s contributions to our cultural heritage for generations to come. For hasn’t the lack of documentation about women’s deeds contributed to our invisibility in historical records––our contributions decimated by death, war, famine, and disease, to be sure, but more insidiously, willful and planned erasure due to socio-political forces that prefer we are forgotten? Three of our pioneers and visionaries have died— Ana Maria Uribe in 2004, Millie Niss in 2009, and Lehan Ramsay in 2016––but they do and can live on through their art––that is, if we commit ourselves not only to preserving it but also to telling these women’s stories and ensuring those stories live on. Jim Andrews, thankfully, maintains Uribe’s and Niss’s e-lit through his Vispo site,  but Ramsay’s e-lit published in The Progressive Dinner Party and frAme 5 in the 1990s is completely lost. 
At the end of February I began with 43 names drawn from past projects and close associations, with the idea that the list would grow over the coming days. So though in the beginning the women highlighted on Twitter were presented alphabetically, this strategy could not be strictly adhered to as new names were added to the list out of alpha order. Crowd-sourcing was vital to the project, and I thank colleagues across the globe for nominating women for shout outs. I also consulted the excellent essay by Margie Luesebrink published in María Mencía’s WomenTechLit to guide the development of the list.  As I worked on the project, the COVID-19 crisis worsened. By the end of March, many states like mine were on lock-down. This meant that my team could no longer meet in ELL, and I was working alone in my makeshift lab at home.
Circling back to Margie’s chapter, “Women Innovate: Contributions to Electronic Literature (1990-2010),” I want to mention that it was extremely helpful in that it lists 210 women working in the area of e-lit in its “roll call” (20). My list builds on it by reaching back a bit further to 1985 to include women like Janet Walker, who pioneered an early hypertext authoring system, as well as picking up after 2010 to include women who have recently come to the e-lit scene since the publication of the book. This strategy demonstrates the sustained growth in the field and the directions e-lit has taken over the last 35 years. What is clear from both lists: E-lit has always relied on a strong involvement of women to sustain it, and it has always been international.
As mentioned, not all of the 280 women received shout outs on Twitter. The reason is simple: Once the university decided to migrate classes to online teaching on the afternoon of March 11, I, as Director of a program with over 650+ students taking classes in our major, could not devote but very late hours at night developing posts and very early hours in the morning tweeting them, averaging a little over five posts a day over the course of the month. This means that only 162 women received shout outs during the celebration.
What is next? First, I plan to preserve this documentation so that these women and their deeds are not lost, for if we have learned anything from the past it is that nothing lasts forever. Not even Twitter (Hint: Remember Storify anyone?). Therefore, I will: 1) keep the project archived on the ELL website, 2) print out the posts and tweets on archival paper and place them among the other papers in my personal collection held in the lab, and 3) publish them as Margie did her list. Second, I plan to continue this project during next year’s Women’s History Month, giving shout outs to all women we have identified––and all of those who emerge over the next 12 months.
Many people contributed to this project by suggesting names and frequently retweeting and commenting on the posts. Thus, we want to acknowledge the following: Erika Fülöp, Annie Abrahams, Jeneen Nagi, Anna Nacher, Donna Campbell, Will Luers, ELO, Ray Siemens, @Xic de B9Neixama, to name but a few. Jeneen, especially, was faithful in re-posting and liking the tweets, helping to amplify these women to her Followers and beyond.
I’d also like to acknowledge the Electronic Literature Lab team members who sustain my joy and purpose: Holly Slocum, the lab’s Project Manager and the lab’s first permanent employee; Kathleen Zoller, a junior at WSUV who is our Scalar and Webrecorder specialist; Nicholas Schiller, the Associate Director of the lab and a Librarian at WSUV; and me, the lab’s director. All of us come from the Creative Media & Digital Culture program––Nicholas and I as faculty, Holly as an alum, and Kathleen as one of our majors. This project fitted well with the vision of the CMDC––that is, to focus on human expression as it is impacted by and influences the development of digital technologies.
I know I speak for all of us at ELL that we thank you for following the lab (@ELitLab) during the event and for visiting our website to learn more about the project and us. Et nomen eius non memoretur.  #womenofelit
Notes See “A Comprehensive Guideline.” https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-pandemic-timeline-history-major-events-2020-3.  See “Ana Maria Uribe,” http://www.vispo.com/uribe/, and “For Millie Niss,” http://www.vispo.com/millie/index.htm.  What is left for the most part is a mention that it existed, for the works were accessed via external links and the original sites are no longer maintained.  M. D. Coverley/Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink. “Women Innovate: Contributions to Electronic Literature (1990-2010).” WomenTechLit, ed. Maria Mencia. Computing Literature. Morgantown, WV, 2017.  Latin for “let her name be remembered”
List of 280 Women E-Lit Pioneers & Visionaries (1985-2020)
*Notes Women Listed in Marjorie Coverley Lusesebrink’s essay but not highlighted in tweets during the celebration
Annie Abrahams, Deanne Achong, Hannah Ackermans , Laurie Anderson*, Maria Angel, Ingrid Ankerson, Megan Sapner Ankerson, Josephine Anstey, Kate Armstrong, Mary-Kim Arnold
Pat Badani, Laurie Baker*, Cheryl Ball*, Di Ball*, Katarzyna Bazarnik*, Eugenia Prado Bassi, Giselle Beiguelman, Gracia Bejjani, Alice Bell, Zoe Belof*, Kathi Inman Berens, Annick Bergeron*, Caroline Bergvall*, Susanne Bergenheger*, Stephanie Boluk, Natalie Bookchin*, Laura Borràs,, Amaranth Borsuk, Mez Breeze, Nathalie Brilliant, Lola Brine*, Nancy Buchanan*, Oni Buchanan, Helen Burgess
Françoise Cahan, Licia Calvi*, Diane Caney*, J. R. Carpenter, Linda Carroli*, Amy Sara Carroll*, Françoise Chambefort, Davida Charney*, Jules Chatelain*, Allison Clifford*, Martha Conway*, M. D. Coverley (Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink), Kathern Cramer, Maria Damon, Agnes de Cayeux
Sharon Daniel*, Francesca da Rimini*, Ana Marques da Silva*, Chrystin Davies*, Caterina Davino, Juliet Davis*, Jennifer Dellner, Christy Dena, Debra di Blasi*, Claire Dinsmore, Giovanna Di Rosario, Oreto Doménech, Claire Donato, J Yellowlees Douglas, Louise Druhle
Adrian Eisen*, Lori Emerson, Angie Eng*, Maria Engberg, Astrid Ensslin, Tina Escaja (Ama Pérez)
Lai-Tze Fan, Odile Farge, Natalia Fedorova, Alicia Felberbaum*, Clara Fernandez-Vara*, Angela Ferraiolo, Heike Fiedler, Caitlin Fisher, Claire Fitch, Mary Flanagan*, Penny Florence*, Vera Frenkel*, Elaine Froelich*, Erika Fülöp
Belén Gaché*, Carolina Gainza, Dora García*, Luciana Gattass, Hortense Gauthier, Geniwate, Susan Gibb*, Anna Gibbs, Michelle Glaros*, María Goicoechea de Jorge, Samantha Gorman, Monika Gorska-Olesinka, Jacqueline Goss*, Zhor Gourram, Diane Greco, Jo-Anne Green, Dene Grigar, Diane Gromala*, Annie Grosshans, Carolyn Guertin, Anaïs Guilet, Carolyn Guyer
Auriea Harvey*, Lucile Haute, N. Katherine Hayles, Megan Heyward, Janet Holmes*, Teri Hoskin*, Riham Hosny, Kathy Rae Huffman*, Angelica Huízar, Zuzana Husárová
Shelley Jackson, Sarah Jacobs*, Lori Janis*, Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo*, Natalie Jeremijenko*, Lisa Jevbratt*
Nina Kahlo, Nancy Kaplan, Anne Sofia Karhio, Aya Karpinski*, Jayne Fenton Keane*, Judy Kendall, Judith Kerman*, Kikiyama*, Deb King*, Lisbeth Klastrup*, Flourish Klink, Elizabeth Knipe*, Alison Knowles, Elena Knox*, Claudia Kozak, Kari Kraus
Nathalie Lacelle, Jess Lacetti*, Jeanette Lambert (Jean Net)*, Dorothy Lang*, Tina LaPorta*, Deena Larsen, Claire Larsonneur, Brenda Laurel*, Kerry Lawrynovicz*, Leah Lazariuk*, Gwen LeCor, Donna Leishman, Jennifer Ley, Olia Lialina, Lee Libby*, Dolores Romero López*, Jacalyn Lopez-Garcia*, Liz Losh, Margie Luesebrink (M. D. Coverley)
Kathy Mac*, Daniela Côrtes Maduro, Aleksandra Malecka, Judy Malloy, Cathy Marshall, Julie Ann Martin*, Pauline Masurel (Mazzy)*, Stacey Mason, Christina McPhee*, María Mencía, Kia Mennie, An Mertens, Albertine Meunier, Kate Monro*, Adelaide Morris (Dee)*, Petra Mueller*, Janet Murray*, Elli Mylonis*
Anna Nacher, Jeneen Naji, Jocelyn Nanard*, Moneca Nepote, Elizabeth Nesheim*, Ruth Nestvold*, Millie Niss
Jaishree Odin, Karen O’Rourke*, Érika Ortega
Ula Pawlicka, Celia Pearce*, Ali Rachel Pearl, Amy Pearl*, Alma Pérez (Tina Escaja), Martha Petry, Regina Pinto, Thea Pitman, Julia Polyck-O’Neill, Cécile Portier, Jessica Pressman, Sally Pryor*, Kate Pullinger, Agnieszka Przybysezewska
Melinda Rackham, Rita Raley, Sonja Rapoport*, Lehan Ramsay, Anja Rau*, Jill Walker Rettberg, Marine Riguet, Raquel Rivera*, Rejane C. Rocha, Joellyn Rock, Johannah Rodgers, Fred Romano, Teri Rueb*, Marie-Laure Ryan
Alexandra Saemmer, Anastasia Salter, Christy Sheffield Sanford, Laura Sánchez*, Amelia Sanz*, Perla Sasson-Henry, Alex Saum-Pascual, Ariane Savoie, Claire Savoie, Katie Schaag, Patricia Seaman*, Phoebe Sengers*, Laura Shackelford*, Emily Short*, Lyle Skains, Diana Reed Slattery, Hazel Smith, K. E. Smith (Brown)*, Sarah Smith, Cheryl Sourkes*, Amy Spencer, Dani Spinosa, Jyanni Steffensen*, Stephanie Strickland, Kim Stringfellow*, Lisa Swanstrom, Illya Szilak
Tess Tanenbaum, Claire Taylor, Gaëlle Théval, Sue Thomas, Helen Thorington, Patricia Tomaszek, Susana Pajares Tosca, Milene Tournier, Anmarie Trimble*, Pascale Trudel*
Ana Maria Uribe, Camille Utterback*
Alice Van Der Klei, Laura Vasquez, Liliana Vasques
Gwenola Wagon, Janet Walker, Sara Waterson*, Lori Weidenhammer*, Victoria Welby*, Karin Wenz*, Marta Werner*, Kim White*, Melinda White, Helen Whitehead, Christina Wilks, Roberta Williams*, Josephine Wilson*, Leonie Winson*, Adrianne Wortzel*, Nanette Wylde*, Anne Francis Wysocki*
Jin-Me Yoon*, Eman Younis
Paniagua Zalbidea*, Mia Zamora, Jody Zellen, Polle Zellweger, Marina Zerbarini*, Natalie Zeriff*, Marina Zurkow*