SCROLL / NETWORK / HACK: A Poetics of ASCII Literature (1983-1989)

  • Author / Creator
    Katelnikoff, Joel
  • SCROLL / NETWORK / HACK is a poetics of ASCII text files published and distributed by means of electronic bulletin board systems from the early-1980s until the mid-1990s. This medium offered computer users a means to share information and opinions with one another, but it also gave rise to an innovative literature shaped by the material conditions and technological environment within which it was produced. This writing, influenced by Hacking/Phreaking/Anarchy/Cracking manuals, sought to hack, phreak, and crack the technologies of writing and the conventions of discourse.
    SCROLL / NETWORK / HACK is the product of my experience as a reader, writer, and editor of ASCII text files, and also as an instructor of literary analysis and creative writing. The project is, in part, driven by a desire to courier these obscure texts to my audience, but it is primarily inspired by a need to investigate the constraints of these texts, their extralinguistic signification, and the ways in which they hypermediate, modify, and disrupt code. Perhaps most importantly, I am interested in how we might further extend the artistic practices that are described and implemented in these hackerly texts.
    SCROLL / NETWORK / HACK treats all writing as textual material rather than as an access point to a transcendental signified. Screen captures from ASCII text files are incorporated throughout the study, which might include more or less material than is required for any particular analytical response; this allows me to not only describe the tactics of the courier and pirate, but also to enact them, simulating my own struggle with these unwieldy networks of literary code. Furthermore, the work of critical theorists (e.g. Shklovsky, Barthes, McLuhan) will be treated only as textual material—this material will be valuable to the extent that I am able to repurpose, extend, modify, and riff on it, but the material will not be interpreted, contextualized, nor respected in terms of its authority.
    Ultimately, the project must be a dissertation, becoming descriptive, informative, and at times neglectful of the frame of reference, but it strives, through a discourse bound by convention, to help readers to discover and produce a new, hackerly, style of discourse.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2013
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.