Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature / Edition 1

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Overview

Can computer games be great literature? Do the rapidly evolving and culturally expanding genres of digital literature mean that the narrative mode of discourse—novels, films, television series—is losing its dominant position in our culture? Is it necessary to define a new aesthetics of cyborg textuality?

In Cybertext, Espen Aarseth explores the aesthetics and textual dynamics of digital literature and its diverse genres, including hypertext fiction, computer games, computer-generated poetry and prose, and collaborative Internet texts such as MUDs. Instead of insisting on the uniqueness and newness of electronic writing and interactive fiction, however, Aarseth situates these literary forms within the tradition of "ergodic" literature—a term borrowed from physics to describe open, dynamic texts such as the I Ching or Apollinaire's calligrams, with which the reader must perform specific actions to generate a literary sequence.

Constructing a theoretical model that describes how new electronic forms build on this tradition, Aarseth bridges the widely assumed divide between paper texts and electronic texts. He then uses the perspective of ergodic aesthetics to reexamine literary theories of narrative, semiotics, and rhetoric and to explore the implications of applying these theories to materials for which they were not intended.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Svenska Dagbladet

A book that critics and researchers in the field cannot easily ignore.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801855795
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,152,800
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Espen J. Aarseth is associate professor in the Department of Humanistic Informatics, University of Bergen, Norway.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Ergodic Literature 1
2 Paradigms and Perspectives 24
3 Textonomy: A Typology of Textual Communication 58
4 No Sense of an Ending: Hypertext Aesthetics 76
5 Intrigue and Discourse in the Adventure Game 97
6 The Cyborg Author: Problems of Automated Poetics 129
7 Songs from the MUD: Multiuser Discourse 142
8 Ruling the Reader: The Politics of "Interaction" 162
9 Conclusions: The Ideology of Influence 178
References 185
Index 197
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