Kid-­E-­Lit: An Exhibition of Digital Narratives for Youth and Children Made for Nordic Libraries

During August 2015, the Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group at the Dept of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Bergen will host the Electronic Literature Organization’s annual international conference, ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature. We expect 150-­-250 international scholars, authors, and artists in the field to participate in the conference. The conference will be accompanied by several public exhibitions, including an exhibition of digital narratives made for children and youth, which will be hosted by the Bergen Public Library.

This project intends to use that exhibition as an opportunity for interdisciplinary and cross-­-sector Nordic cooperation. The project will result in an innovative exhibition of interactive narrative experiences made for children and youth, “Kid-­-E-­-Lit” (Barn-­E-­Litt) Selections of work for the exhibition will be curated by a panel of Nordic digital culture researchers, children’s literature experts, writers, and librarians, and the exhibition will include works by Nordic artists in Nordic languages, as well as by international artists. After its premiere at the Bergen Public Library in August 2015, the exhibition will then travel to other participating Nordic libraries. The project will also result in a network of researchers, librarians, writers, and artists interested in bringing quality interactive narrative experiences for children and youth to the public forum the library represents, and in exploring new ways to integrate these digital materials into library collection, exhibition, workshop, and circulation contexts.

Over the past two decades, the ways in which we communicate, read, and experience literature have changed. In the fifteen years of its existence, the Electronic Literature Organization (http://eliterature.org) has been central to the establishment of electronic literature as a dynamic field of research and artistic practice. Electronic literature, or e-­- lit, refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-­-alone or networked computer. Authors and artists have developed diverse forms including hypertext fiction, kinetic poetry, interactive fiction, interactive literary installations, collective narratives and many other types of literary experiences particular to the computer. As interactive reading devices such as tablets have become more widely adapted in recent years, commercial markets are now catching up to these avant-­-garde creative practices, as the divide between “e-­- book” and “apps” becomes more blurred and as readers’ expectations for greater diversity in reading experiences in computational and transmedia environments increases. Electronic literature is proving a valuable testbed for future literary forms, as well as being a vibrant art form in its own right. As the current generation of youth represents the first “digital natives”—who will not remember a time before the internet was ubiquitous, with personal computers on every desk, smart phones in most pockets, and tablet computers as common a reading technology as books—it becomes particularly important to explore and highlight innovation in digital reading experiences made for a youth audience.

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