E-Literature Success in the Classroom

24 May, 2016

E-Literature Success in the Classroom

Alex Saum-Pascual, Spanish and Portuguese, had an exciting -- and busy -- spring semester bringing electronic literature to the classroom! You can read about the incredible course she devised -- complete with artist visits, hands-on projects, and critical inquiry -- in her blog post "Top 5 (grandes exitos) - End of Semester Recap."

"The semester is officially over, and I wanted to write one final post to recap a bit of what happened during these last 5 months—we have had a blast! I don’t want to repeat exactly what we did (you can check out our syllabus online right here and read lots of student essays below in this blog), but I thought it would be good to compose a list of highlights, so to speak: the top 5 of e-lit at Cal! So, what did we do?

Spoiler! There are special guests, an exhibition and symposium, student poster presentations, and a student e-lit showcase! Alex has created an astounding learning experience in her class.

Please do check out the amazing works her students created here.

Below, we've reposted the rest of Alex's recount!



We hosted the visit of some terrific scholars and artists involved in the field. It begun with Élika Ortega’s Skype visit to class where she talked to us about the work of the Mexican experimental figure, Ulises Carrión. Together with her, we explored questions related to book materiality and virtuality. Halfway through the semester we hosted Leo Flores, who helped us think through questions of electronic literature curatorship as he presented us the new volume of the Electronic Literature Collection. A couple of weeks later, Rita Raley talked to us about her concept of TXTual practice, and other considerations specific to electronic literature. And finally, artist and scholar, Rui Torres shared some insights on his own practice as a digital poet.

From practices that pushed the boundaries of the book to a particular artist practice, these talks gave us a panoramic (and multilingual) look into the field of electronic literature, its languages, and its criticism.


To further explore different manifestations of electronic literature, and believing in the importance of exposing students to a myriad of different perspectives, we attended the opening symposium of the No Legacy || Literatura electrónica exhibit on March 11. We learned firsthand about the importance of archiving and preserving electronic literature thanks to Dene Grigar, Élika Ortega and Roberto Cruz Arzabal, and we thought about the place of e-lit in today’s transnational and translinguistic world with Leonardo Flores, Sandy Baldwin and myself.


Apart from Rui Torres’s wonderful panoramic presentation on his work, during the opening reception for No Legacy we listened to Amaranth Borsuk read from her Between Page and Screen, as well as present her new work Abra to us. Additionally, Doménico Chiappe gave us a beautiful performance in Spanish of his work Tierra de Extracción. These presentations helped us reflect on the role of creativity as critical thinking, and the importance of pushing the boundaries of academic discourse to consider the scholarly values of art and literature.


For the first time ever, electronic literature was included in the Digital Humanities program at Cal, and students presented their ongoing art and literature projects to those visiting the DH Faire 2016. Students designed and presented their posters and website to the DH community at Berkeley at large. Read more here.

And finally…


Students’ critical thinking and theoretical learning was allowed to flourish in the design of their own electronic masterpieces. In a class showcase, students presented their final, culminating e-lit pieces. Check out all their masterpieces here!

It was a busy semester, but one full of interesting activities, lots of new things to learn about, and tons of fun. I am grateful to everyone who helped make this pilot DH class happen (DH at Berkeley, BCNMand S&P), and a big, big thanks to Camille and Justin who helped me with the nitty-gritty aspects of teaching this class.

Finally, muchas gracias, chicos y chicas de la clase, this was a success because of you!

Prof. Saum"

You can read this post in Spanish here, or more about Professor Saum's work at her blog here.