[ISEA2023] Paper: Erika Fülöp & Dene Grigar — Piloting Shared Born-Digital Archives between the US and Europe


Third Summit on New Media Art Archiving

Keywords: Electronic literature, net art, born-digital literature, born-digital literary archives, emerging formats, digital preservation, distributed archives

Containing several thousand works from the 1980s to today, the Electronic Literature Organization’s (ELO) The NEXT, created and managed by the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL, Washington State University Vancouver), is the largest repository of born-digital literature and net art on the web. It provides free online access to early hypertext fiction, animated poetry, literary games, and more, including many works otherwise now inaccessible due to obsolete software and hardware requirements. This paper presents a project to extend ELO’s The NEXT by setting up a new server in France to hold a copy of the collections, developing local curatorial and research activities to preserve European works, to be shared back with the US server, and growing a digital art and literature preservation network in Europe for practice sharing and collaboration. The project will include a participative Wikidata initiative on electronic literature to enhance the discoverability and searchability of the collections, which could be an opportunity to integrate this born-digital literature focused archive with the Connecting Archives project and feed the data into a shared database. The paper invites a discussion on the requirements of such alignment and the best way of working together towards a global new media archive.

  • Erika Fülöp is Professor of Twenty-first-century Literature, Digital Humanities and Creative Writing at the University of Toulouse 2 Jean Jaurès, where she is a member of the Heritage, Literature, History laboratory. She was previously Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in French Studies at Lancaster University (2015-2022), Postdoctoral Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology in Hamburg (2013-15), and Lecturer at New College, Oxford (2012-13). Since her doctoral thesis and first monograph on Proust and philosophy titled Proust, the One, and the Many: Identity and Difference in À la recherche du temps perdu (Oxford, 2012), she has been exploring diverse modes of authorship that question and expand the concept of writing and literature, especially digital modes of expression. In 2021 she benefitted from an EPSRC grant to learn about the technical aspects of creating and preserving digital work. Her research diary can be found here.
  • Dene Grigar is Professor and Director of Creative Media & Digital Culture in the Department of Digital Technology & Culture at Washington State University Vancouver whose research focuses on the creation, curation, preservation, and criticism of born-digital media. She has authored 16 media works, 71 scholarly articles, and six books. She has curated exhibits at the British Computer Society, the Library of Congress, and for the Symposium on Electronic Art, among other venues. With Stuart Moulthrop (U of Wisconsin Milwaukee) she developed the methodology for documenting born-digital media, a project that culminated in an open-source, multimedia book, entitled Pathfinders (2015), and book of media art criticism, entitled Traversals (2017), for The MIT Press. Her forthcoming book is Challenges of Born-Digital Literature: Editions, Translations, and Emulations, co-authored with Mariusz Pisarski, for Cambridge UP. Grigar serves as the Managing Director & Curator of organization’s The NEXT and directs the Electronic Literature Lab.