From Sterne to Joyce to Pynchon, there’s a long tradition of authors turning to the avant-garde, experimenting with both the written word and the physical book itself to push the boundaries of literature. But as books go digital, what does the next wave of avant-garde literature look like? In this session, I’ll develop a theory of the “ebook avant-garde” and explore several key areas where contemporary content creators are using digital media to challenge our notions of literature and the “book”: anxiety surrounding the book simulacrum, exploitation of faux tactility, and pliability of narrative. I’ll show these principles in practice via an exploration of avant-garde digital texts like “Yellow Submarine,” “The Fifty Year Sword,” and “DEVICE 6.” Finally, I’ll demo some open source EPUB widgets that I’m currently developing, which are designed to encourage and facilitate a journey into the ebook avant-garde.

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