Prehistoric Digital Poetry
New Book Provides a Major Historical View of the
Birth of Electronic Poetry


For the last five decades, poets have had a vibrant relationship with computers and digital technology. Prehistoric Digital Poetry is a documentary study and analytic history of digital poetry that highlights its major practitioners and the ways that they have used technology to foster a new aesthetic. Focusing primarily on programs and experiments produced before the emergence of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s, C. T. Funkhouser analyzes numerous landmark works of digital poetry to illustrate that the foundations of today’s most advanced works are rooted in the rudimentary generative, visual, and interlinked productions of the genre’s prehistoric period.

Since 1959, computers have been used to produce several types of poetic output, including randomly generated writings, graphical works (static, animated, and video formats), and hypertext and hypermedia. Funkhouser demonstrates how hardware, programming, and software have been used to compose a range of new digital poetic forms. Several dozen historical examples, drawn from all of the predominant approaches to digital poetry, are discussed, highlighting the transformational and multi-faceted aspects of poetic composition now available to authors. This account includes many works, in English and other languages, which have never before been presented in an English-language publication. Marjorie Perloff adds that “this superbly conceived, elegantly written, meticulously researched, and astonishingly learned history of digital poetry in the decades leading up to the emergence of the World Wide Web will be required reading for anyone interested in the state of poetics today. An encyclopedia of forms and possibilities, this is that rare scholarly production—an indispensable book,” she said.

C. T. Funkhouser is Associate Professor of Humanities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of Technopoetry Rising: Essays and Works (forthcoming) and Selections 2.0, an eBook.

The University of Alabama Press founded in 1945 is one of the largest and fastest-growing publishers in the South. It publishes seventy to eighty books a year in archaeology, military history, Judaic studies, literary criticism, communication, sports, Civil Rights, religion, southern history, and regional topics.



Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms,
1959–1995
by C.T. Funkhouser
Publication date: June 24, 2007
408 pages • 6 x 9 • 50 illustrations
ISBN-10: 0-8173-5422-0 • $39.95 paperback
ISBN-10: 0-8173-1562-4 • $75.00 unjacketed hardback