Genres of Electronic Literature

N. Katherine Hayles “Electronic Literature: What is it?”

What is electronic literature?  It includes various kinds of literature; “hypertext fiction, network fiction, interactive fiction, locative narratives, installation pieces, “codework,” generative art and the Flash poem”.  The author N. Katherine Hayles is an American literature critic and professor specializing in electronic literature, science and literature.

Genres of Electronic Literature

hypertext fiction

The evolution of electronic literature was entwined with the history and improvement of computers.   The authors such as  Michael Joyce, Jay David Bolter and John B. Smith created their work in Storyspace and HyperCard, which are hypertext writing environments.

Hayles divided 20th century’s electronic literature into “first-generation” and “second-generation,” with the break coming around 1995.  According to her, first-generation “classical” works includes hypertext fiction as seen above. The later seems more “contemporary or postmodern”.  The latter became diverse as the development multimedia repository.  Some works were published as a CD-ROM book.


  • Michael Joyce “afternoon: a story” (1990)
  • Stuart Moulthrop “Victory Garden” (1995)
  • Shelley Jackson “Patchwork Girl” (1995)
  • Deena Larsen “Marble Springs” (1993)


Interactive fiction / Interactive drama

Interactive fiction is real-time storytelling format reacting to input from players.  It can be distinguished from hyptertext fiction in terms of the game elements.  It allows readers to choose their preference and to .  As the development of technology including sound, graphic and mass storage media, it became harder to recognize difference between interactive fiction and computer game.

  • Emily Short, Savoir-Faire (2002)
  • Jon Ingold, All Roads (2001)
  • Donna Leishman, The Possession of Christian Shaw (2003)
  • the CAVE writing(2002)
  • Michael Mateas, Façade (2005)

Also, interactive storytelling is called interactive drama.

The term “network fiction” defined by Ciccoricco (2007), is a digital fiction that “makes use of hypertext technology in order to create emergent and recombinatory narratives.”

Locative Narratives

Locative narratives is characterized by location technology such as GPS technology.  Locative narrative embeds their story to particular location using the technology, and users read or listen to them using a mobile device.  It appeared as the invention and development of mobile devices.

Generative Text

Generative text is a category of generative art, which  use algorithm to generate, randomize and rearranging existing texts.  In terms of intervention of writers, generative art can be distinguished from interactive fiction and drama.

Flash Poems / Cyber poems

Flash was one of the most poplar software to create animation because of its beginner friendly interface.  In a Flash poem, a line or a word transforms itself dancing, falling, twisting and disappearing.  Nowadays, Flash has been disappearing as Apple stop supporting Flash in their products including iPhone and iPad anymore.


Electronic Literature Organization

Electronic Literature Essays


Ciccoricco, D. 2007. Reading Network Fiction. 1st Edition edition. Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press.

Montfort, N. 2003. wisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Joan Campàs The Frontiers between Digital Literature and

Interactive Fiction as Literature

Rovert Coover “The end of the Books”

CaveWriting and the CAVE Simulator

Stephanie Strickland, “Writing the Virtual: Eleven Dimensions of E-Poetry,” Leonardo Electronic Almanac 14:05/06 (2006)

Stephanie Strickland, “Writing the Virtual: Eleven Dimensions of E-Poetry,” Leonardo Electronic Almanac 14:05/06 (2006)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s