The Thursday Club: Joseph Tabbi – London, 22 November 2007 (6-8pm)

THE THURSDAY CLUB is an open forum discussion group for anyone interested in the theories and practices of cross-disciplinarity, interactivity, technologies and philosophies of the state-of-the-art in today’s (and tomorrow’s) cultural landscape(s).

Toward a Semantic Literary Web: Three Case Histories

Supported by Goldsmiths Department of English and Comparative Literature

In this talk, Joseph Tabbi introduces a new literary and arts collective, Electronic Text + Textiles, whose members are exploring the convergence of written and material practices. While some associates create actual electronic textiles, Tabbi has explored the text/textile connection as it manifests itself in writing produced within electronic environments. His online laboratory consists of two literary web sites, EBR (, a literary journal in continuous production since 1995, and the
Electronic Literature Directory (, a project that seeks not just to list works but to define an emerging field. Rather than regard these sites as independent or free-standing projects, Tabbi presents their development in combination with the current (and similarly halting) development of semantically driven content on the Internet (e.g., The Semantic Web, or Internet 2.0).

His purpose is to determine to what extent *concepts* can flow through electronic networks, as distinct from the predominant flow of *information*. The latter, in which documents are brought together by metatags, keywords, and hot links, is arguably destructive of literary value. Where tagging and linking depend on direct, imposed conectivity at the level of the signifier, the creation of literary value depends
on suggestiveness, associative thought, ambiguity in expression and intent, fuzzy logic, and verbal resonance. At a time when powerful and enforced combinations of image and text threaten to obscure the differential basis of meaning as well as the potential for bringing together, rather than separating, rhetorical modes, Electronic Text + Textiles seeks to recognize and encourage the production of nuanced, textured languages within electronic environments.

JOSEPH TABBI is the author of two books of literary criticism, Cognitive Fictions (Minnesota, 2002) and Postmodern Sublime (Cornell, 1995). He edits ebr ( and hosted the 2005 Chicago meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. He is Professor of Literature at the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Supported by the Goldsmiths GRADUATE SCHOOL and the Goldsmiths DIGITAL STUDIOS

6pm until 8pm, Seminar Rooms at Ben Pimlott Building (Ground Floor, right), Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, SE14 6NW

FREE, ALL ARE WELCOME. No booking required.

For more information check or email Maria X at drp01mc [at]

To find Goldsmiths check