On July 1, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design Professor Caitlin Fisher was named president of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) – an international scholarly association dedicated to the investigation of literature produced for the digital medium.
ELO was founded in Chicago in 1999 and has a presence across North America and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Members come from a wide array of disciplines and areas of study, including art, literature, communication, humanities, media studies and more.
The organization is a leader in developing methods for evaluating the quality of digital creative and critical works and its insights into cataloging a growing global body of fiction, poetry and other literary forms. It partners with Bloomsbury Press on a book series, stimulates innovation and rewards excellence by awarding endowed prizes for both creative and theoretical work, and also hosts the field’s most important international conferences and exhibitions.
“I’m very excited to lead ELO at this time. Over the next three years, we will continue to grow, becoming increasingly diverse and multilingual,” says Fisher. “I hope to work closely with emerging elite communities in Africa and in the Middle East, and at the same time, make the work of ELO more visible to Canadian artists and academics and students. I’m also looking forward to making Canada’s contributions to the field more visible – we have a rich history of literary and digital innovation here and some of the world’s most interesting elite practitioners.”
Fisher previously served as treasurer and vice-president at ELO. She is the director of both the Immersive Storytelling Lab and the Augmented Reality Lab at York University, where she is also Chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts. Fisher has long been a member of the ELO Board and an active member of its digital literary community. She most recently assisted as international coordinator for the ELO 2021 conference. A foundational member of ELO, her work was first celebrated in 2001, when she won the Electronic Literature Organization’s Award for Fiction for These Waves of Girls.
Fisher’s presidency marks the first time the institutional home of the ELO will move outside of the United States. “Bringing the ELO to York University – a large, urban, innovative and incredibly diverse university – represents an exciting opportunity for both organizations,” she said in a news release.
She further explains, “York is a fantastic home for the ELO and our work is very much aligned with York’s strategic research focus on ‘analyzing cultures and mobilizing creativity’ and leveraging ‘digital cultures’ as an area of opportunity. Definitions of electronic literature have always been expansive – long including works in immersive XR, serial storytelling, artificial intelligence, performance across social media, innovations in computational creativity and audio walks, for example – future-oriented practices grounded in media histories and print literacies and all areas in which York has considerable strength. I hope to bring some of ELO’s initiatives like our Fellows program to York, too.”
She also looks forward to continuing her work with an “amazing board of directors,” representing 10 countries, including York University alumna, Lai-Tze Fan.
The ELO’s most recent initiative, the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 4, showcased 132 literary works from more than 40 authors in 31 languages from a global field.
Fisher’s new role was announced at the ELO 2022 International Conference and Media Arts Festival held in Como, Italy from May 30 to June 1, which provides opportunities for artists, writers, and scholars to productively discuss existing work and to further develop the field.
Learn more about ELO here.