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Keynote Lecture by the CLIC Lorand Chair Intermediality Alexandra Saemmer (Paris 8): Pollination, Hybridization and Colonization in Electronic Literature: A Socio-Semiotic Approach

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In this keynote lecture, I will invite the public to explore historical and recent pieces of digital literature through the prism of theories of intermediality, that examine the relations and interactions between medias inside a given work.

All cultural production is intermedial: an alphabetical text, for example, is always also a picture of text. Nevertheless, a great number of pieces of digital literature make the “unerasable friction” (Horst Mahler) between paired media evident, where the routinisation of our everyday practices tends to make us disregard this problematic materiality.

My objective is not so much to interpret these frictions, but to examine the reasons that brought us, at a given time, to consider them to be significant. As Günther Kress tells us, “Any sign or system of signs teaches us something about how a receiver perceives and understands the world at the very point in time that the sign is produced”. The method of analysis that I propose, examines the material characteristics of the pieces, but considers them to be inaccessible as such, as they are always mediated through a prism that I refer to as an “interpretative filter”. 

I will add this socio-semiotic aspect to my method for analysing intermediality, that will reveal both the construction of the interpretative filters I use when approaching a piece as a reader, as well as the materiality of the pieces themselves. Assuming that my reading involves a measure of constructive “hallucination”, I will allow myself at times, in a historical work, to recognise phenomena that occurred after it was created.

This lecture will take place online via Zoom. Please register via:


The keynote is a collaboration between the research groups 20CC – Twentieth-Century Cross­roads (UGent) and CLIC (VUB) and will open the doctoral specialist course Text, Image, Sound: Intermedial Crossings in 20th-century Mass Media” (28-30 April 2021). As part of this specialist course, Alexandra Saemmer will also host a doctoral workshop and give an introductory lecture on "Theoretical Reflections on Intermediality and the Role of the Device" (Thursday, 29 April, 1 – 5.30 p.m.).