Research Group Electronic Literature


Álvaro Seiça defends his PhD dissertation on kinetic poetry

On Feb. 2, 2018, Álvaro Seiça defends his PhD dissertation titled “setInterval(): Time-Based Readings of Kinetic Poetry” at the University of Bergen.

Alvaro Seica
Álvaro Seiça is part of the Bergen Electronic Literature research group (BEL).

Kinetic poetry is a form of poetry that relies on spatiotemporal transitions as expressive literary and visual layers. Throughout the twentieth-century, kinetic poems have been composed with varied media, such as celluloid film, video, holography, and computers. This unified and untold history of kinetic poetry is now presented in the study setInterval for the first time. As it is unveiled, the origins of kinetic poetry can be traced back to the Dadaists. When Marcel Duchamp staged rotoreliefs in the 35mm film Anémic Cinéma (1926), he arguably set a precedent for questioning the role of documentary film, textual art in motion, and poetry.

setInterval covers this rich history of kinetic poetry, by addressing the areas of experimental and digital poetry. setInterval is a study of English, French, and Portuguese-speaking poets whose work defies the very act of writing and reading. This dissertation focuses on poetry developed with hardware, software, and code between 1981 and 2017. It discusses kinetic poetry’s cultural and technological history, by putting forward the argument that digital poetics is deeply influenced by the 1950-80s experimental practices and transmedia approaches, which included film, video, and computers.

Furthermore, this study includes in-depth analyses of contemporary poems by Stephanie Strickland and Ian Hatcher. Digital humanities perspectives are explored throughout the study, such as the modification of creative works as a method to perform criticism, network analysis, and macro-analysis of critical discourse in the field of digital poetry. The mods—modified versions—of digital kinetic poems constitute a groundbreaking method that opens up for novel ways of reading and understanding moving poems, in that altering the temporality of the poems highlights unseen features and poses new questions.

setInterval goes far beyond techno-positivistic discourses on digital poetry by discussing the larger intersections of literature with technology, politics, and society.


Álvaro Seiça is a writer and researcher. He holds an MA from the University of Évora (2011). He published the poetry books Ensinando o Espaço (2017), Ö (2014), permafrost (2012), and the scholarly book Transdução (2017). Seiça is a PhD Fellow at the University of Bergen, where he teaches courses in digital culture and edits the ELMCIP Knowledge Base. His PhD dissertation “setInterval(): Time-Based Readings of Kinetic Poetry” (2017) was hosted by the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen, and advised by Scott Rettberg and Chris Funkhouser. @AlvaroSeica / alvaroseica.net