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Élika Ortega: The eternal return of print-digital literary publishing
Event Info
Date:Wednesday, 04/20/2022
Place:Registration is required for this zoom event

The eternal return of print-digital literary publishing

The literary/material experimentation seen in works like Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, and Ian Hatcher’s ABRA (2014/2015) and Vivian Abenshushan, Dora Bartilotti, and Leonardo Aranda’s Permanente obra negra (2019) have not only proposed a hybrid form of the book, but they have also put into practice a distributed poetics that emerges out of fastening their print and digital facets together. Such complex material and poetic compositions prompt an examination of the publishing landscapes that put forth this type of work. In this talk, I provide a brief history of print-digital literary publishing that reveals how these practices are both stimulated and hindered by recurring cycles of enthusiasm and retrenchment regarding the potential of digital technologies to ‘revolutionize’ the book and literature since the mid 1980s. Throughout these decades, the challenges to make print-digital publishing scalable as a new standard or format have, with very few exceptions, pushed the practice into institutional and independent presses where it has found a quiet niche. In a period when, beyond the e-book, it is still not clear if the digital will yield a new standard form of the book, examples like ABRA and Permanente obra negra give us a glimpse into the recent past to understand why the impetus to make hybrid books continues to be creatively current yet commercially unfulfilled.

Élika Ortega is assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on digital literature and media, cultural hybridity, books, and independent publishing. She recently co-edited special issue on the intersection of Digital Humanities and Spanish and Portuguese Studies for Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (Summer 2021), and for Hispania (December 2021). Élika is currently writing Binding Media: Print-Digital literature 1980s-2020 her monograph investigating hybrid works of literature from Argentina to Canada.

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