UC New Media Research Directory
Hayles, N. Katherine
January 26th, 2007 under Faculty

Professor of English and Design/Media Arts, UCLA
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N. Katherine HaylesKatherine Hayles has been a major influence in the fields of electronic textuality and literature, new media studies, literature and science, and modern and postmodern American and British fiction. Her How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1999) was named one of the best 25 books of 1999 by Village Voice and was the winner of the Rene Wellek Prize for Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-1999, American Comparative Literature Association, and of the Eaton Award for the Best Book in Science Fiction Theory and Criticism, 1998-99. Her other books include Writing Machines (MIT Press, 2002); Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science (Cornell Univ. Press, 1990); and The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century (Cornell Univ. Press, 1984). Forthcoming is Coding the Signifier: Rethinking Semiosis from the Telegraph to the Computer and a book on complexity and emergence theory. Among her other professional activities, Hayles has been President of the Society for Literature and Science and on the Executive Committee of the Modern Language Assoc. Literature and Science Division; the Editorial Board of Comparative Literature Studies; Board of Consultants, Science-Fiction Studies; Editorial Board of Configurations: A Journal for Literature, Science, and Technology; and Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization.

 Links:      Home page | Society for Literature and Science | Electronic Literature Organization

Literature in the twenty-first century is computational. Almost all print books are digital files before they become books; this is the form in which they are composed, edited, composited, and sent to the computerized machines that produce them as books. They should, then, properly be considered as electronic texts for which print is the output form. The computational nature of twenty-first century literature is most evident, however, in electronic literature, literature that is “digital born,” created on a computer and meant to be read on it. More than being marked by digitality, such works are actively formed by it. For those of us interested in the present state of literature and where it might be going, electronic literature raises complex, diverse, and compelling issues.

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Traditional prosody, with its focus on more or less metrical rhythm, in short, describes an abstraction of sound. In search of regular rhythm, prosody tends unavoidably to eliminate the other acoustic phenomena, the noisy din of phonology and morphology, multi-accentuality and of course silences. The noise of poetry is either ignored or partially recuperated as a relational component of the discursive, semantic content; this process of elimination and abstraction can be seen as suppression and / or normalization, in other words noise abatement.

As a noise abatement project, traditional or normative prosody emboldened a resistance. Strange bedfellows from Mallarme to Whitman to Pound, Gertrude Stein, Henri Chopin, Ginsberg, Charles Olson, Robert Grenier, bp Nichol, etc., etc., are linked by their exploration of the noise of language in the face of normalized rules set primarily to find and disseminate abstract and pre-approved rhythmic patterns.