Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

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JHU Press, Aug 6, 1997 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 203 pages
7 Reviews

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.

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Meredy - LibraryThing

Six-word review: Alternative textual structures explicated as literature. Extended review: "Choose Your Own Adventure" books came along when my children were young readers. They reminded me of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - breadhat - LibraryThing

A little bit dry, a little bit dated, and I wish it covered a broader range of material. It is, however, rich in meaningful theoretical content; recommended to anyone interested in video games from a literary/semiotic standpoint. Read full review

Contents

Ergodic Literature
1
Paradigms and Perspectives
24
Problems in Computer Semiotics 24Textuality
51
A Typology of Textual Communication
58
Hypertext Aesthetics
76
Intrigue and Discourse in the Adventure Game
97
A Brief History of the Genre 97A Schematic Model
115
Intrigue and Discourse 124The End of Story?
127
Problems of Automated Poetics
129
Multiuser Discourse
142
Literature in the MUD? 142 A Historical Perspective
158
The Ideology of Influence
178
References 185 Index
197
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About the author (1997)

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

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