Distributed December 12, 2002
News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis
Talan Memmott awarded Brown’s first electronic writing fellowship
Award-winning writer and multimedia artist Talan Memmott has been named as the University’s first graduate fellow in electronic writing. The fellowship, which provides tuition and a stipend for its recipient, includes teaching opportunities that will add new course offerings in the digital arts to the University curriculum.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Award-winning writer and multimedia artist Talan Memmott has been named as Brown’s first graduate fellow in electronic writing, a field in which the University has played a groundbreaking role.
Memmott, who began his studies at Brown this semester, is a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts degree. The fellowship includes tuition and a stipend, as well as the opportunity to teach electronic writing courses in the second year – thus expanding the University’s course offerings in the digital arts. Graduates of the University’s electronic writing program include electronic literature luminaries Robert Arellano, Shelley Jackson, Mary Kim Arnold, Mark Amerika, Matt Derby and Judd Morrissey; writer Noah Wardrip-Fruin is currently an M.F.A. candidate in the program.
“All of these students were accepted here as fiction writers and poets,” said Robert Coover, adjunct professor of English. “Talan Memmott is our first graduate fellow specifically in electronic writing, and the now-permanent fellowship is perhaps the first of its kind anywhere...
“Brown was the first university in the world to teach electronic writing courses, starting with our hyperfiction workshops more than a decade ago and following upon decades of developing humanistic uses of the computer here,” Coover continued. Coover recruited Memmott after hearing him speak at a conference at UCLA last spring.
There’s no doubting the world of literature has changed when one reads Memmott’s work. Gone is the old-fashioned notion of curling up with a good book borrowed from the local library. Instead, Memmott’s work is found in various locations on the Internet, including the online hypermedia literary journal BeeHive, of which he’s been the creative director and editor since 1998.
“Talan Memmott is a major talent,” said Coover, a writer who is himself widely considered a pioneer in hyperfiction. “It is as though he is seeking to think as the machine thinks, his intricate and elegant designs, precise and classical, being a way for that character, that ghost in the box, or beyond it, to dress itself up for spectators. ... His vision of the electronic writing medium as an imaginative theatrical space where the word itself might be the top banana is, for me, one of the most promising and intriguing aspects of his art.”
Memmott was originally trained as a visual artist in painting, video, installation art and performance, and he has dabbled in theater, primarily as a director. He creates the graphics for nearly all of his work and does all the coding for his Web-based work. Last year he was awarded the trAce/Alt-X New Media Writing Award for his piece “Lexia to Perplexia,” and he was one of five finalists for the most prestigious prize offered in the field, the Electronic Literature Organization's prize in fiction writing. He is also a tutor for the trAce Online Writing School and has spoken at various conferences and universities.
Information on Memmott and his writing is at www.brown.edu/gsj/vol27/27GSJ12c.html. His work can be viewed at memmott.org/talan.