Machine Talk: Literature, Computers and Conversation, 1960 to Today

My current project explores conversation in contemporary literature. Through this lens I examine how writers and literary critics have since mid century, drawn on conceptions of, and advances in, Cybernetics, programming, AI, language processing, and lately the area of Human Computer Interaction in their work. Specifically, I am interested in examining the ways in which writers have responded to (and sometimes anticipated) theorisations of communication within computing as a way of exploring formal and ontological questions in their writing. The project also takes up related questions around self-representation, intersubjectivity, information and the role of literature in the digital era. Drawing on the work of established authors and critics such as J. M. Coetzee, Hugh Kenner and Thomas Pynchon, the book also examines e-literature “chatbot” works such as Galatea by Emily Short and Façade by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, and contemporary authors working across codex and digital forms, such as Jennifer Egan, Teju Cole and Tao Lin.


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Rebecca Roach is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC-funded project, “Ego-Media: The Impact of New Media on Forms and Practices... read more about: Rebecca Roach