The Presence and Circulation of Literature on the Internet


The cybermap was one of the first spaces created and made public on the Hermeneia website in July 2002. Its main objective was to describe the vast panorama of literature on the Internet from a perspective that would allow Hermeneia to provide its first critical contribution to the field in the initial stage of development of this research group. The theoretical framework for this space was grounded in Vannevar Bush’s conception of the Memex, a system that would permit the storage, linking and accessing of a great variety of information. This concept led Hermeneia to attempt to define the navigation itineraries that relate literature to new technologies, aprocess that ultimately would help this research group to elaborate an operational classification of the existent literary works on the Web.

As the group worked on the above concept, its members realized that in order to achieve  rigorous scholarly work in fields such as literature and ICT it was essential to develop a cybermap that would embrace a multidisciplinary approach that underscored the interest and skills of philologists, literary theoreticians, computer programmers and archivists, among others. In this sense Hermeneia assumes that this initial cybermap is only representative of the constant state of flux and development of the evolution and application of the new technologies to the humanities, and more specifically to the study and creation of literary works. Hermeneia would like to locate this space under the umbrella of the Web because it preserves the testimony of a specific moment as well as the initial spirit and motivation of the field of study within which this group is inscribed.

Internet and literature: approaching routes

The evident popularization of Internet in the last few years has had a very positive repercussion in the area of literary creation and the study of literature. The exponential growth of the Net as a new communication medium constitutes, in fact, the first challenge that we need to face: itsvastness. Therefore, when the Hermeneia website wasbuilt the group attempted to achieve a representative description of the state of the art of e-lit at a certain time, knowing that it could not aspire to exhaustiveness.

The Internet has given institutions and individuals in the public or private sector the possibility of displaying large amounts of information. In some cases, this information represents the transference of new or unpublished information. The ease with which new content can be published forces the users to be very cautious. On the other hand, the dynamism of the Net implicitly signals an expiration date of everything born as a static material.

Hermeneia also wants to draw special attention to the effect that digital technologies have on literature and on the study of literature. One aspect that is being influenced by the possibilities of new technologies is literary creation. The reader of literature generated in and for the Internet (e-lit) becomes one of the most important agents in the process of literary creation and recreation. The role of the reader-navigator becomes almost more important than the role of the writer whose authorial power seems to subtly diminish. Based upon this concept, it is necessary to observe how this new literature, which has begun to spread at a constant pace, develops as it plays a significant role in the world of letters and the humanities.

As stated earlier, the Internet has put into circulation a literary corpus that is part of our cultural tradition, and new technological support will open new horizons for these literary works. One of the most popular initiatives has been on-line libraries, because they put a large amount of emblematic and representative literary works within everyone's reach. These kinds of libraries carry out an interesting and laudable task, but in order to be effective they must be as rigorous as possible. The user should know which kind of editions and reproductions he is looking up. In spite of all the recent development in on-line libraries that has taken place, it is alsoimportant to highlight the effort of some traditional libraries which have included online resources as part of their catalogues.

The Hermeneia website is part of a virtual environment which strives for an accessible and effective transfer and diffusion of knowledge and research. That is why the Hermeneia research group wants to make available on its websiteall the initiatives related to literary research and creation, especially those which have been created on the Web to be read on the Web. The format and organization of these new journals and electronic works provide the reader with easy access to large amounts of information that in years past could have been overlooked or more difficult to find. As the reader explores the Hermeneia site, he we can easily find specific information organized in a very practical and useful way.

As a way to connect with other scholars in the field of electronic literature, the Hermeneia research site also provides links to other research group websites that offer research results or conclusions pertinent to the field. Finally, it is important to emphasize the passionate and altruistic effort of the researchers who, through their individual initiatives and websites, offer a multidisciplinary and unique perspective on the study of literature.

Even though the situation of literature on the Internet has been outlined above, the nature of the Net renders it general and incomplete. One of the main of objectives of the group is to continue updating and enlarging itself. The list of links is quite indicative of what can be found on the Internet, yet for the Hermeneia research group, this initial exploration of literary websites represents the first step towards reachingone of our objectives: to describe the context in which Hermeneia is inscribed. The cybermap is an example not only of quantity but also of the quality of some of the emerging initiatives about literary creation or the study of literature. At Hermeneia, we think that it is necessary to provide scholarly content and tools as well as categories that provide easy access to that material. Moreover, we think that the introduction of new technologies in the areas of literary study and literary creation represent an essential goal for the evolution of literature. This journey has just begun,but we would like to share our explorations with you.

Top ones

Reference websites

There are a lot of people and institutions working on the relation between new technologies and literature, from different perspectives. Some of them are reference websites, we suggest the following ones...

- Voice of the Shuttle (FITXA)
- The Massachussetts Institute of Technology (FITXA)
- The Modern World (FITXA)
- The Electronic Literature Organization (FITXA)
- Institut Universitari de l'Audiovisual de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra (FITXA)
- Liceus (FITXA)
- The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (FITXA)

Literary theory and cyberculture

Literary theory for everyone

Research group websites. They offer or a general approach over literary studies or they foccus on specific aspects of the discipline.

- Contemporary Literary Theory (FITXA)
- The Bahktin Centre (FITXA)
- Projecte Fabula (FITXA)
- Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism (FITXA)
- Applied Hermeneutics (FITXA)
- Critical Approaches to Culture, Communications and Hypermedia (FITXA)
- Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies (FITXA)
- The Cyberarts Web (FITXA)
- Cyberstudies Webring (FITXA)
- Postcolonial Studies (FITXA)

E-texts library

Virtual libraries

These libraries offer literary texts, quite often for free, and the internet user can find an important amount of classical literature.

- Project Gutenberg (FITXA)
- Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (FITXA)
- Biblioteca d'autors i literatura italiana (FITXA)
- Esmeralda (FITXA)
- Biblioteca de contes (FITXA)
- Textos clàssics de la literatura espanyola (FITXA)
- El Aleph (FITXA)
- The Philological Museum (FITXA)
- The Electronic Literature Foundation (FITXA)
- Liber-Liber (FITXA)

Authors and monographic themes

Monographic websites

Writers official websites, foundations devoted to the study of an author or websites created by researchers...

- The World of Dante (FITXA)
- Jorge Luis Borges, Center for Studies and Documentation (FITXA)
- The Cervantes Society of America (FITXA)
- The Thomas Wolfe Web Site (FITXA)
- Centre d'études Georges Simenon (FITXA)
- St. John's College Robert Graves Trust (FITXA)
- Dariana (FITXA)
- Pàgina Personal de Paulo Coelho (FITXA)
- James Joyce (FITXA)
- Doris Lessing (a retrospective) (FITXA)
- The Hemingway Resource Center (FITXA)
- Lawrence Sterne (FITXA)
- Goethe (FITXA)
- Centro de Estudios Senderianos (FITXA)
- Fundació Rafael Alberti (FITXA)
- Fundació Octavio Paz (FITXA)
- Fundació Camilo José Cela (FITXA)
- Centro de Documentación Juan Alfonso de Baena (FITXA)
- Baltasar Gracián (FITXA)
- Garcilaso de la Vega (FITXA)
- Francisco de Quevedo (FITXA)

Databases and on-line libraries

Accesible information

Databases are proliferating on the Net and the researchers have more facilities in order to do their job. There are also traditional libraries that offer the possibility of looking up their catalogue on-line.

- Consorci de Biblioteques Universitàries de Catalunya (FITXA)
- Red de Bibliotecas Universitarias Españolas (FITXA)
- Biblioteca Nacional (FITXA)
- Residencia de Estudiantes (FITXA)
- Base Bibliográfica de Ciencia Ficción y Fantasía (FITXA)

Literary texts antologies

Compilations and antologies of varied texts

There are a lot of antologies of varied texts on Internet. Quite often, there is an specialist or a lover of a certain theme or author that works out an on-line anthology.

- Les poètes du XIXe Siècle (FITXA)
- The Classics Page (FITXA)
- Guías de lectura (FITXA)
- 1000 Years of Romance Poetry (FITXA)
- Literatura argentina (FITXA)

On-line magazines

On-line academic journals

Electronic journals are fundamental tools for a new way of researching and spreading creative literature and literary criticism. Some interesting websites...

- Espéculo (FITXA)
- El pasajero (FITXA)
- ADAMAR, revista de creación (FITXA)
- Culture Machine (FITXA)
- Oxford Journals (OUP) (FITXA)
- Cercador New Jour (FITXA)

Groups and research projects

New possibilities of research

These websites offer to the user the research activity of a research group. The spreading of this research represents one of the big advances of this new environment.

- Centro de Estudos de Texto Informatico e Ciberliteratura (FITXA)
- The Victorian Web (FITXA)
- The Labyrinth, Resources for Medieval Studies (FITXA)
- Parnaseo (FITXA)
- Grupo de Estudios del Siglo XVIII (FITXA)
- Teatro de los Siglos de Oro (FITXA)
- Proyecto Banco (FITXA)
- Proyecto Cervantes (FITXA)

Personal websites

One's own research and interests

These personal websites offer information and contents about different areas of knowledge and they are placed generously on the Internet. The external appereance and the contents of these websites are quite varied, and some of them are very interesting.

- George P. Landow (FITXA)
- José M. Segura (FITXA)
- Anseis de Carthage (FITXA)
- Antoni Llagostera (FITXA)
- Daniel Eisenberg (FITXA)
- Alan Humm (FITXA)

On-line journals

Books and criticism

We offer some links to the websites that review new books to be up to date...

- The Compulsive Reader (FITXA)
- Bibliópolis (FITXA)
- Literarias (FITXA)

Teaching materials

On-line subjects

The sites of this section show some examples of on-line university subjects. We can see a wide range of forms and contents in a digital support.

- Apuntes 2000 (FITXA)
- Hyperliterature/Hypertheory (FITXA)
- Literatura Anglesa (FITXA)
- Unitat de Suport a la Innovació Docent (FITXA)
- La Recherche du Bonheur au 18ème siècle (FITXA)
- Image Collection Inspired by Dante's Inferno (FITXA)



A bit of everything...

- Grup Enciclopèdia Catalana (FITXA)
- Classics at Oxford (FITXA)
- Aleph Littérature (FITXA)
- Premis Nobel (FITXA)
- Abrecartas (FITXA)
- Escuela de Letras (FITXA)
- Morgana's Observatory (FITXA)

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