While digital fiction is a relatively new form of literature, a rich and healthy field of scholarship has surrounded it from the very beginning. On this page we recommend some academic resources for those new to the field. We’ve limited our selections to five per category and, in line with our project focus, these recommendations fall largely within the remit of narratology, stylistics, and otherwise formalist or cognitive approaches. These resources have informed our thinking within and outside this project and we hope they provide a useful entry into the field for you.
Aarseth, Espen. (1997) Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, Baltimore, ML: Johns Hopkins University Press.
A hugely influential piece of scholarship for the field, Aarseth “explores the aesthetics and textual dynamics of digital literature” and proposes the terms “cybertext” and “ergodic literature” which have been used by the field ever since.
Bell, Alice. (2010) The Possible Worlds of Hypertext Fiction. Bastingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
This book focuses on one of the earliest forms of digital fiction – hypertext fiction – and offers possible worlds theory as a method of analysis.
Ensslin, Astrid. (2014) Literary Gaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
In this book, Ensslin examines literary videogames—hybrid digital artifacts that have elements of both games and literature, combining the ludic and the literary.
Hayles, N. K. (2008) Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
This book offers a “systematic survey of the field and an analysis of its importance, breadth, and wide-ranging implications for literary study”.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. (2015) Narrative as Virtual Reality 2: Revisiting Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ryan explores the concepts of immersion and interactivity in print and digital literature “to develop a phenomenology of narrative experience that encompasses reading, watching, and playing”.
Alice Bell, Astrid Ensslin & Hans Rustad (eds.) (2014) Analyzing Digital Fiction. New York: Routledge.
Chapters include analyses of hypertext fiction, Flash fiction, Twitter fiction and videogames with approaches taken from narratology, stylistics, semiotics and ludology.
Ruth Page and Bronwen Thomas (eds.) (2011) New Narratives: Stories and Storytelling in the Digital Age. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
This collection of essays “deeply and broadly consider[s] the relationship between digital technology and narrative theory in the face of the changing landscape of computer-mediated communication.”
Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson and Benjamin Robertson. (eds.) (2014) The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
A “comprehensive reference work to which teachers, students, and the curious can quickly turn for reliable information on the key terms and concepts of the field”.
Roberto Simanowski, Jörgen Schäfer and Peter Gendolla (eds.) (2010) Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching. Bielefeld: transcript.
This collection “presents contributions by scholars and teachers from different countries and academic environments who articulate their approach to the study and teaching of digital literature”.
Joseph Tabbi (ed.) (2017) The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature. London: Bloomsbury.
This book “this book explores the foundational theories of the field, contemporary artistic practices, debates and controversies surrounding key concepts, […] historical developments and new media contexts of contemporary electronic literature”.
Convergence aims to “address the creative, social, political and pedagogical issues raised by the advent of new media technologies”.
dichtung-digital focuses on “art and culture in digital media” which “welcomes close critical readings as well as theoretical discussions”.
Digital Creativity “publishes articles of interest to those involved in the practical task and theoretical aspects of making or using digital media in creative or designerly contexts.”
Electronic Book Review : a journal particularly interested in “addressing the digital future of literature, theory, criticism, and the arts”.
Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds focuses on “theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres”.