In Cybertext, Espen Aarseth explores the aesthetics and textual dynamics of however, Aarseth situates these literary forms within the tradition of “ergodic”. Espen J. Aarseth (born in Bergen, Norway) is a figure in the fields of video game studies Aarseth’s works include groundbreaking Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP ) book, which was originally his. Wiki for Collaborative Studies of Arts, Media and Humanities.

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Perspectives on Ergodic Literature.

He identifies two characteristics of these texts that he returns to repeatedly in this opening chapter: Cybertexts are capable of branching in different directions that will cut off other parts of the text based on choices made by the reader. Ergodic literature is not ambiguous in the manner of traditional literature: Notably, those characteristics—the constructive role of both the medium and the reader in the reading experience—are not limited to electronic or digital platforms, although this technology has greatly expanded the range of possible written expression.

As the examples provided by Aarseth demonstrate, a cybertext can be paper- or computer-based, codex or software: The resistance of traditional literary scholars to the inclusion of cybertexts in their field of study typically takes three conflicting forms: Aarseth traces this misconception of ergodic literature to a rhetorical model of reading adopted by many critics, theorists, and readers: This misrepresentation of the relationship between the reader and the text conflates the mutable narrative paths of the cybertext with the ambiguity found in literature with otherwise linear expression.


Cybertxet image of the labyrinth is a potent one for Aarseth and helps to illustrate the conflation of these different textualities.

Espen Aarseth

The former consists of a single winding and turning path that leads to a hidden centre while the latter is more maze-like and confronts the wanderer with choices, puzzles, and dead ends. Traditionally, representations of the labyrinth in classical and medieval art were unicursal while the literary maze was multicursal Aarseth acknowledges this paradox.

Aarseth simply wants to reunite the two forms in order to study them using the same theoretical framework. There are two challenges in the process of expanding traditional literary studies to make room for cybertexts and ergodic literature:.

Secondly, the framing of any new textual media as radically different from old forms and an objective, autonomous catalyst for social change and political or intellectual liberation. In the context of literature, Aarseth identifies the belief that digital technology allows the reader to become the author: It highlights the ways in which the perceived divide between the intentional object of the text and the mental event of the reading is unavoidably impacted by contextual events such as editing, translation, marketing, and criticism—this is just as true for traditional, non-ergodic texts.

Rather, it is a desire to redefine what can be considered literary in the first place. Questions 1 The old standby: What application does the idea of cybertext and ergodic literature have to future cinema? What would or does ergodic cinema look like?


Espen Aarseth – Wikipedia

Is the reading of cybertexts be they regarded as labyrinth, game, world as active as Aarseth seems to believe? With a few exceptions, the examples given by Aarseth in this introduction are forms of fictional writing. Are the pleasures of cybertexts primarily about narrative?

How does ergodic literature potentially change those other literary pleasures? The sense of play and gaming has been a recurring theme in the course. Is future cinema inextricably linked with gaming?

Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

CybertextErgodic Literaturelabyrinth. This course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacle to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including film theory, communication studies, cultural studies and new media theory, the course will consider how digital technologies are transforming the semiotic fabric of contemporary visual culture.

Our focus will be on the phenomenon Gene Youngblood described three decades ago as expanded cinema an explosion of the frame outward towards immersive, interactive and interconnected i. Applied Theory at York University, Canada. There are two challenges in the process of expanding traditional literary aatseth to make room for cybertexts and ergodic literature: Future Cinema — This course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacle to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media.