A Performance of Reality. Handwriting and Paper in Digital Literature


  • Yra van Dijk


Materiality, Handwriting, Digital Literature, Media Culture, The Body, Presence, Complicity


Digital literature emphasizes its own medium, and it brings to the foreground the graphic, material aspects of language. Experiments with the new medium and with the form of language are generally presented and interpreted within a framework of the historical avant-garde or the neo-avant-garde. This article aims to take a new perspective on the emerging digital materiality of language. The analysis of three works that remediate paper, the voice, the writing hand, or the physical presence of the author, leads to the conclusion that an ‘absent presence’ is given prominence. This paradoxical merging of presence and absence makes these forms of digital literature an expression of a specifically late postmodernist ambivalent stance regarding representation of the ‘real’. Complicity with the media culture goes hand in hand with an ironic approach of the mediatedness of the world and the body.

Author Biography

Yra van Dijk

Yra van Dijk (1970) is assistant professor in literature at the University of Amsterdam, and was a visiting scholar at University of California, San Diego in the field of digital literature. She is currently taking part in a HERA sponsored European research project into digital communities (http://www.elmcip.net/). Leegte die ademt (Vantilt, 2006) is a study on the meaning of typographic blanks in the modern poem, about which she also published in Word and Image (forthcoming). Together with Thomas Vaessens, she edited the volume Reconsidering the Postmodern. European Literature Beyond Relativism (Amsterdam University Press, 2011).




How to Cite

van Dijk, Y. (2011). A Performance of Reality. Handwriting and Paper in Digital Literature. Journal of Dutch Literature, 2(2). Retrieved from https://journalofdutchliterature.org/index.php/jdl/article/view/22