Milton Laufer, PhD Student at the Spanish and Portuguese Department.
As a PhD Student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, my research focuses on the development in Latin America of what is known as digital literature. By this I mean a particular way of thinking about texts which is not constrained by the bounds of the device called “book”, which lays in between many other disciplines, like the visual arts, video art, and computer games. This involves not only a new paradigm, or at least a broader paradigm, in our way of conceptualizing literature, but also a meaningful political dimension, a democratization, in the sense of how cultural goods circulate—including but not limited to the Internet—and, most importantly, how they are produced: in the same fashion espoused by the avant-garde movements, in digital literature the boundaries between the producer and the consumer are blurred, calling into question not only ontological concepts like creator, art-work, and reader, but also legal ideas that have traveled a long and undisputed path, like intellectual property. Though the first two works of digital literature date back to the 1950s (Strachey, 1952 and Lutz, 1959), it was only during the past decade that a field of scholarship focused on this literary form began to emerge. In this time, digital literature has become a vital object of inquiry, not only because its trajectory is difficult to anticipate, but also—and more importantly—because it sheds light on our understanding of literary production in a broader sense.