What happens when you want to become a digital writer but hate hyperlinks – the particular case of Kate Pullinger and a shift from ‘physio-cybertext’ to ‘ambient literature’

Author #1

Agnieszka Przybyszewska (PhD) has worked as an assistant professor at the University of Łódź (Poland) and, since 2020, she is also visiting research fellow at Bath Spa University (UK). She is also a research affiliate in Electronic Literature Lab led by Dene Grigar. She holds a double degree in Polish literary studies and film and media studies and received her PhD in literary studies.

Agnieszka is a member of Electronic Literature Organisation and Polish Centrum Badań nad Literaturą Elektroniczną UAM, co-editor of “The Writing Platform”. She co-created creative writing studies at the University of Łódź. She inspired and supervised artistic projects that use new media for storytelling (e.g. locative narratives for mobile phones created during the academic course with the support of local IT startups or AR projects realised within workshops led by UŁ and PJATK, which were chosen to be exhibited in London at showcase of the best XR projects from Poland during the 21st Polish Film Festival Kinoteka in London in April 2023). She was part of Bath & Bristol R&D project “Amplified publishing”, researching VR and AR as literary platforms and she edited a thematic issue of “The Writing Platform” on XR storytelling. She was an academic partner in the project “AR for writers” (2022-2023, AHRC/UKRI: Impact Accelerator Awards KE Dialogues Scheme), where her role was to prepare and conduct workshops for writers in collaboration with local start-up Layerabe. In 2023 she curated the exhibition “VR and Literature: an (Im)possible Romance” in the British Library (London), which was part of the 2023 MIX conference and she prepared an open-access catalogue for this event.

She led the research project “Kate Pullinger and innovation in digital writing: from multimodal interactive narrative to haptic, corporeal reading” (NAWA 2020-2022) and her book “Kate Pullinger and Innovation in Digital Writing” has been accepted to Bloomsbury Press Electronic Literature series (to be published in 2025/2026). Now she leads three research projects focused on digital storytelling: one focused on building an archive of Kate Pullinger’s digital works (IDUB 2022-2024, in collaboration with ELL at Washington State University Vancouver), one focused on XR literature (NAWA 2023-2024). The last one is MINIATURA project “Audience research as an element of the XR literature research methodology – a pilot study of VR poetry” (2023-2024), funded by NCN.

Agnieszka was repeatedly awarded the Polish Ministry of Education Scholarship and conferred the Czesław Zgorzelski’s Prize for the best literary master thesis in Poland. Her monograph on liberature (Liberackość dzieła literackiego) was published in 2015). She also authored several dozen articles on e-literature, in Polish, English and Spanish published in peer-reviewed journals and collective academic publications.

Abstract

Kate Pullinger is undoubtedly one of the best-known digital writers. Many of her works have been characterised as hypertexts, while the author has never enjoyed hyperlinks and non-linear storytelling. Pullinger's critical approach to hypertexts hasn’t been deeply characterised, neither in the context of the innovative character of “The Breathing Wall”, digital fiction called “physio-cybertext” by Ensslin because in the act of reading it, breathing substitutes clicking.

Thus, the starting point for the presentation is a comparative analysis of four Pullinger’s works (Branded: Typing Version” 2002, “Branded” 2003, “The Breathing Wall” 2004 and “Breathe” 2018) in the context of the author’s journals from her fellowship at trAce Writing Center as well as other archival materials from that period, including interviews with Sue Thomas and Pullinger herself and the survey she did on use of hyperlinks in literary writing. My goal will be to show how an original, sceptical approach to the hyperlink (that can be described as a constant looking for the way the hyperlink can do anything for literature and be helpful for the story) led the author to the very innovative way of perceiving the role of digital media in crafting stories. I will focus on Pullinger’s fascination with a deeper involvement of readers’ bodies and senses in reading, that is, the use of sound links in “Branded”, biofeedback in “The Breathing Wall”, and reader’s data in “Breathe”. Such an approach should help reveal hidden connections between Pullinger’s works (e.g. “Branded” and “Breathe”).

As a context, I will also shortly discuss collaborative projects Pullinger took part in or led (“Clean”, “Read This!”, “A Million Penguins”, “Flight Paths”, “Memory Makes Us”) and the way she used website-based platforms for them and, later on, escaped from them. Those works will also be characterised in the context of archival materials and Pullinger’s first experiences with online communities and co-creation (e.g. M. Luisebrink’s “M is for Nottingham”, LAMBDA MOO).

 
Jul 19th, 10:30 AM Jul 19th, 11:30 AM

What happens when you want to become a digital writer but hate hyperlinks – the particular case of Kate Pullinger and a shift from ‘physio-cybertext’ to ‘ambient literature’

Hypertexts & Fictions

Kate Pullinger is undoubtedly one of the best-known digital writers. Many of her works have been characterised as hypertexts, while the author has never enjoyed hyperlinks and non-linear storytelling. Pullinger's critical approach to hypertexts hasn’t been deeply characterised, neither in the context of the innovative character of “The Breathing Wall”, digital fiction called “physio-cybertext” by Ensslin because in the act of reading it, breathing substitutes clicking.

Thus, the starting point for the presentation is a comparative analysis of four Pullinger’s works (Branded: Typing Version” 2002, “Branded” 2003, “The Breathing Wall” 2004 and “Breathe” 2018) in the context of the author’s journals from her fellowship at trAce Writing Center as well as other archival materials from that period, including interviews with Sue Thomas and Pullinger herself and the survey she did on use of hyperlinks in literary writing. My goal will be to show how an original, sceptical approach to the hyperlink (that can be described as a constant looking for the way the hyperlink can do anything for literature and be helpful for the story) led the author to the very innovative way of perceiving the role of digital media in crafting stories. I will focus on Pullinger’s fascination with a deeper involvement of readers’ bodies and senses in reading, that is, the use of sound links in “Branded”, biofeedback in “The Breathing Wall”, and reader’s data in “Breathe”. Such an approach should help reveal hidden connections between Pullinger’s works (e.g. “Branded” and “Breathe”).

As a context, I will also shortly discuss collaborative projects Pullinger took part in or led (“Clean”, “Read This!”, “A Million Penguins”, “Flight Paths”, “Memory Makes Us”) and the way she used website-based platforms for them and, later on, escaped from them. Those works will also be characterised in the context of archival materials and Pullinger’s first experiences with online communities and co-creation (e.g. M. Luisebrink’s “M is for Nottingham”, LAMBDA MOO).