Next Horizons:
The 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference,
Victoria, BC, June 10 - 12, 2016

Detail from Barbara Bridger and J.R. Carpenter, Notes Very Necessary 2015. Notes Very Necessary, which will be on exhibit in the ELO2016 Festival exhibition, is a collaboratively authored, horizontally scrolling electronic manuscript. In their words, the work "aims to address climate change by remixing images, text, and data generated by centuries of imperialist, colonialist, capitalist, and scientific exploration in the Arctic."

Looking to the future of electronic literature, in sessions such as "Emergent Media," Next Horizons, the 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, (ELO2016) explores new possibilities for the evolving field of electronic literature, while in sessions, such as "Historical and Critical Perspectives," contingently highlighting its rich lineage.

ELO2016 will convene at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia from June 10-12, 2016 and this year is hosted through a partnership between the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. (DHSI) Co-Chairs: are Dene Grigar (Washington State University Vancouver) and Ray Siemens. (University of Victoria) The Artistic Director is Caitlin Fisher. (York University)

"We are siblings, ELO and DHSI," ELO President Dene Grigar emphasizes in a statement that concludes this article. "Both organizations were founded in the same year and both work at the intersection of digital technologies and the Humanities with interests in scholarship and creative practice."

The conference will bring together scholarship and practice in the field with papers representing many points of view, by Philippe Bootz; (Université Paris 8) John Cayley; (Brown University) Leonardo Flores; (University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus); Aynur Kadir; (Simon Fraser University) Deena Larsen; (Independent Artist) Mark Marino;(USC) James O'Sullivan; (University of Sheffield) Kate Pullinger; (Bath Spa University) and Jody Zellen, (Independent Artist) among many others.

Next Horizons opens with two featured papers: electronic literature pioneer Stuart Moulthrop's "Intimate Mechanics: Play and Meaning in the Middle of Electronic Literature" and Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida Anastasia Salter's "Code before Content? Brogrammer Culture in Games and Electronic Literature" -- followed by a Festival Gallery opening and a lunch reception.

Setting the stage for three days of scholars' and artists' papers on contemporary electronic literature and future directions -- from "Medium and Meaning A Critical Look at E-Lit Literary Games"; to "Subversive Texts"; to "Beyond Collaborative Horizons" -- a Keynote Session will address "Prototyping Resistance: Wargame Narrative and Inclusive Feminist Discourse."

The role of labs is of increasing interest in electronic literature research and pedagogy. A panel on "E-Lit Labs" will include Jim Brown, Rutgers University Camden; Robert Emmons, Rutgers University Camden; Brian Greenspan, Carleton University; Stephanie Boluk, UC Davis; and Patrick LeMieux, UC Davis.

Contingently, as the archive becomes a core source not only for critics and curators but also in pedagogical practice, chaired by Dene Grigar, "Best Practices for Archiving E-Lit" will feature, in addition to Grigar, Stuart Moulthrop, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee; Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland College Park; and Judy Malloy, Digital Studies Fellow, Rutgers University Camden.

"Feminist Horizons" will be explored by Kathi Inman Berens, Portland State University; Jessica Pressman, San Diego State University; and Caitlin Fisher. A session on "Narratives and Narrativity" will feature Illya Szilak, Independent Scholar: "Narrativity in Virtual Reality;" David Ciccoricco, University of Otago: "Simulation Studies;" and Caitlin Fisher: "Future Fiction Storytelling Machines."

Other speakers in a wide variety of panels, roundtables, poster sessions and artists talks are Sandy Baldwin, Rochester Institute of Technology; Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam University; Jim Bizzocchi, Simon Fraser University; Serge Bouchardon, Sorbonne Universités, Université de Technologie de Compiègne; Lauren Burr, University of Waterloo; Shane Denson, Duke University; Jeremy Douglass, UC Santa Barbara; Astrid Ensslin, University of Alberta; Samantha Gorman, USC; Ian Hatcher, Independent Artist; Davin Heckman, Winona State University; Riham Hosny, Rochester Institute of Technology/Minia University; Andrew Koblucar, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Kari Kraus, University of Maryland; Will Luers, Washington State University Vancouver; Marjorie Luesebrink, Independent Artist; Liz Losh, College of William and Mary; Piotr Marecki, Jagiellonian University; Mark Marino, USC; Èlika Ortega, University of Kansas; Allison Parrish, Fordham University; Scott Rettberg, University of Bergen; Chris Rodley, University of Sydney; Mark Sample, Davidson College; Rui Torres, University Fernando Pessoa; Zach Whalen, University of Mary Washington; Rob Wittig, Meanwhile...Netprov Studio; and Mia Zamora, Kean University, among many others. A complete list is on the Schedule at

On Saturday, British digital writer, artist, and developer of playable stories, Christine Wilks, will deliver a keynote on "Interactive Narrative and the Art of Steering Through Possible Worlds." Saturday night at ELO2016 is a banquet and a dance at the University of Victoria Faculty Club.

"It is heartening to bring the tribe back together every year for this event and to continue to expand its ranks," Dene Grigar observes. "Old friends, new friends -- we all converge to celebrate the art and scholarship of electronic literature."

Festival Exhibition

Curated by Brenda Grell (Washington State University, Vancouver) the EL02016 exhibition includes work by Abrie, Alan Bigelow, Serge Bouchardon et al, Helen Burgess and Craig Saper, J. R. Carpenter and Barbara Bridger, Andrew Demirjian and James Proctor, Matthew Mosher, Jeff Morris and Elisabeth Blair, Sophia Pelka, Aaron Reed, Loren Schmidt, Alvaro Seica and Sindra Sorensen, including also among others:

Deanne Achong and Faith Moosang
Lulu Sweet: A Gold Rush Tale in 8 Acts

Damon Loren Baker and Jeremy Hight
The Basement

Philippe Bootz et al

Amaranth Borsuk, et al
"June 17th"

Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell

M. D. Coverley and Stephanie Strickland
Hours of the Night

Deena Larsen
Toybox: Exploring a New Conceptual Language Through Play

Will Luers, Hazel Smith, & Roger Dean

Jason Nelson
The Impossible Box

Allison Parrish
A Travel Guide

Kate Pullinger, Andy Campbell, Chris Joseph, and Ian Harper
Inanimate Alice; Episode Six: The Last Gas Station

Scott Rettberg and Rod Coover
Hearts and Minds

Jordan Scott, Tiffany Cheung, Namir Ahmed, and Aaron Tucker
Loss Sets

Jody Zellen
News Wheel

In addition to artists' talks and the gallery exhibition, ELO 2016 also includes:

Readings and Performances curated by Jim Andrews -- with work by Alan Bigelow, Adeena Karasick, Nick Montfort, Judd Morrissey, Rolando Guitar Rodriguez and Jessica Rodriguez, and Rob Wittig, among others.

Screenings curated by Justine Bizzocchi and Jim Bizzocchi, including Ottar Ormstad's mooon; Justin Stephenson's The Complete Works; Aleksandra Dulic and Kenneth Newby's The Winged Horses and From a Dream; and Steve DiPaola's Texture and Flow.

In the words of the curators: "Collectively, these works instantiate a series of dialectics of creative expression: the word and the image, the image and the sound, the mediated and the gestural, the body and the senses".

Sound Installations curated by John Barber, including the sound poem, In Memoriam Decio Pignatari by José Augusto Mannis, which looks at radio as a central media -- honoring Bralizean sound poet Decio Pignatari, by representing his work with fragments of poems, songs and words -- and Ryan Wade Ruehlen and Mark Amerika's techne_lab: a journal of practice-based research, which is composed of sound samplings from lectures and talks by faculty of the Doctoral Program in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Also featured in the sound installations are:

Rui Almeida
Tomorrow, today will be Yesterday -- Angles and distance, time and perspectives

Judy Malloy
The Roar of Destiny -- 20th Anniversary Edition

Miles Thorogood, Jianyu Fan, and Philippe Pasquier
Audio Metaphor

"Each work is engaging in its own right, as a unique work of sound art, or the creative addition of sound to EGC literature. As a group, a strand with this media arts festival, they require our thoughtful listening and continued reflection. Rather than augmenting EGC literature, these works represent new opportunities, new horizons for our theory and practice with this creative genre," John Barber notes in his statement about the exhibition.

From Electronic Literature President Dene Grigar

In response to three questions from content | code | process, ELO President Dene Grigar sets forth ideas and goals for the conference and the future of the Electronic Literature Organization.

ELO2016 will be presented jointly with DHSI. What is the significance for ELO2016 of this joint gathering?

"We are siblings, ELO and DHSI. Both organizations were founded in the same year and both work at the intersection of digital technologies and the Humanities with interests in scholarship and creative practice.

DHSI, for those people who may not know, offers "intensive coursework, seminars, and lectures," bringing together each summer hundreds of scholars from "the Arts, Humanities, Library, and Archives communities" to the University of Victoria, in Victoria, B.C. In 2016 DHSI is drawing over 800 people who will take one to two of the 43 courses offered during two week-long sessions.

For the last five years I have taught courses at DHSI, beginning with mobile app design and theory in 2012 and 2013 to electronic literature in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2013 Brenda Grell, the curator for exhibits at ELO 2016, and I curated a small one-day show at DHSI 2013, entitled Exploring the Electronic Literary Landscape of the Pacific Northwest, that drew hundreds of DH folks to experience e-lit. The excitement that this event generated gave way to the e-lit courses that we have been teaching for the last three years at DHSI and brought to the forefront the potential partnership between DHSI and ELO. That first year, 2014, Sandy Baldwin, Margie Luesebrink, Davin Heckman, and I taught "Introduction to Electronic Literature in DH" during the first summer session. The next year, 2015, due to the success of the course and growing realization that there is great synergy between DHSI and ELO, Sandy and I taught an advanced course during the second summer session with e-lit artist Aaron Reed.

I have known Ray Siemens -- the founder and director of DHSI, a Distinguished Professor of English, (with a cross appointment in Computer Science) and Canada Research Chair in Humanities Computing -- since 1999. We met through a special panel he organized for the 1999 Modern Language Association in Chicago that was also included in the 2000 Joint International Conference of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing and the Association for Computers and the Humanities, held in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined the faculty at the University of Victoria about the same time I was collaborating with multimedia artist Steve Gibson, who was on faculty in the art program. Ray has grown a robust and engaged community that has welcomed the ELO like family. It has been a pleasure to work with him and his team, Daniel Sondheim and Alyssa Arbuckle.

This event also includes another group of scholars that Ray also leads and that shares similar interests with the ELO: INKE, or Implementing New Knowledge Environments. INKE is a community that "explore[s] the digital humanities, electronic scholarly communication, and the affordances of electronic text." If ever there are environments for which to implement new knowledge and electronic text to explore, it is those associated with e-lit. INKE is hosting its conference, "Innovative Interrogations: Modelling, Prototyping and Making" on Friday and Saturday, and close to 40 of its members are participating in it. This community joins the ELO and DHSI for the Keynote Panel on Friday afternoon, ("Prototyping Resistance: Wargame Narrative and Inclusive Feminist Discourse," 1:45-3:00 PM) the Opening Reception & Poster Session, (5:00 PM - 6:00 PM) and the Saturday night banquet. (7:00 PM -9:00 PM) The partnership among the three communities should do much to develop networks and share information across a wide range of academic and artistic interests.

Going back to the DHSI courses that Sandy, Margie, Davin and I have been teaching, it is important to note that we reach over 30 DH scholars from around the continent. The impact of our efforts is already evident: This past spring two of our participants in the 2014 and 2015 courses -- Alexandra Saum-Pascual and Èlika Ortega -- mounted, at the UC Berkeley, one of the finest exhibits of e-lit that I have ever experienced. So, the 2016 conference should be a watershed moment for the ELO in that we are able to promote e-lit to not just to 30 DH scholars but to 800 of them and to 40 INKE members. And as mentioned, ELO 2016 purposely overlaps with DHSI's and INKE's schedules: We begin the conference on the last day of DHSI 1 and first day of INKE's conference, and we end ELO 2016 on the first day of DHSI 2. We have also chosen a site for the exhibits that is front and center of DHSI and INKE activities -- the atrium area of the MacLaurin Building where the auditorium is located, refreshments will be served, and within a few steps of classrooms. We have worked hard to program events where the three communities can work closely together, like the opening evening reception and poster session at the faculty club, and the banquet."

Can you say a few words about how the Festival exhibitions, performances, and sound work together with the panels?

"We picked up the thread from last year's conference, whose theme was The End(s) of Electronic Literature, with the theme New Horizons. The idea is that we are looking past current practices and ahead to future ones, with emphases on literary games, preservation, and new digital technologies."

"The festival involves 27 works in the Exhibit, 13 Readings & Performances, four works in the Screenings, and five Sound Installations -- for a total of 49 works. Caitlin Fisher, ELO 2016 Artistic Director, and her team of curators -- Brenda Grell (Exhibit), Jim Andrews (Readings & Performances, Jim & Justine Bizzocchi (Screenings) and John Barber (Sound Installations and radioELO) have selected some excellent works involving mobile apps, AR/VR, robotics, video, net art, sound art, and other forms that reflect our theme."

Much has happened since you became President of the ELO. Can you say a few words about your own vision for "Next Horizons" in electronic literature?

"I had a laundry list of tasks that I wanted to get done during my three-year term. I was fortunate to have served under Joe Tabbi, who as President, had built a strong scholarly focus for the organization and brought much stability to us. Nick Montfort, who followed Joe's tenure as President, did much to build our technical resources and provide us a solid home at MIT. My job, as I saw it, was to build our presence and expand globally and culturally. In essence I was answering my own call to action made in the essay "E-Lit: Where Is It?," published in electronic book review () in 2008. In that essay I asked the ELO community to work to get e-lit taught in classes, showcased in major exhibits around the world, featured in critical essays, and preserved for posterity. Some of the activities the ELO has undertaken since I became its President in 2013 include offering courses at DHSI, sponsoring and hosting exhibits and events, creating three international prizes ("The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature," "The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature," and the "Marjorie C. Luesebrink Career Achievement Award"), increasing donations to the organization, and preserving important e-lit archives, like the trAce Online Writing Centre. I am also proud that over the last three years the Board has achieved better gender parity and has expanded to include non-Americans.

I have requested to stay on for another three-year term. My goal during this period is to land major grants that will help us with our preservation activities and provide better support of our day to day operations. I want to see us continue to develop a robust credentialing policy aimed at helping academic units to better support scholarship and creative practice of e-lit. I am also interested in creating more partnerships like those we have already established with DHSI and INKE so that we can continue to expand the ELO mission around the globe. I am fortunate to have a very supportive Board who is working hard toward these and other efforts.

One final comment I would like to make is that it is exciting to see not only the new people coming to ELO 2016 but those from the community who have not been able to join us for a while. For example, Matthew Kirschenbaum, who served as Vice-President and Faculty Advisor from 2006-2009 while the ELO was hosted at MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) at the University of Maryland, is giving a talk about preservation on a panel I organized. Noted artist Mark Amerika is exhibiting his sound installation with his graduate student Ryan Ruehlen. Kate Armstrong is on a panel about e-lit and cinema. Alan Sondheim is driving cross-continent to join us and give a performance.

It is heartening to bring the tribe back together every year for this event and to continue to expand its ranks. Old friends, new friends -- we all converge to celebrate the art and scholarship of electronic literature.

Historical Archives of Electronic Literature

Concurrent with ELO2016 and DHSI, An Exhibit of Historical Archives of Electronic Literature will be displayed from June 6-17 at the University of Victoria's, McPherson Library, Special Collections & University Archives. Curated by Dene Grigar and Marjorie C. Luesebrink and comprised of materials from their collections, the exhibition explores the development of electronic literature -- with a focus on the Electronic Literature Organization, founded in 1999 in the US, and the trAce Online Writing Centre, founded in 1995 in the UK.

Four stations will display books, software, and ephemera to document electronic literature from "Hypertextuality & the Rise of a Field" to "The Birth of the Electronic Literature Organization" to "Practicing E-Lit" to "The Impact of the trAce Online Writing Centre on Digital Writing."

Historical Archives of Electronic Literature

ELO2016 Conference Page

The Electronic Literature Organization

Judy Malloy

the full schedule for the ELO2016 program is at