e-Lit Resource

The library of digital literature in Spanish, Ciberia, was born under the framework of LEETHI (European Literatures from Text to Hypermedia) research group at the Complutense University of Madrid and is developed thanks to the collaboration and multidisciplinary work with the ILSA research group of the Faculty of Computer Science of the UCM. This library is funded by the project: "Escritorios Electrónicos para las Literaturas-2" and is initially developed by María Goicoechea de Jorge, Laura Sánchez and Ana Cuquerella. The main objective of the Digital Library Ciberia: Digital Literature in Spanish, is to select, catalog and make more visible works that belong to the field of electronic literature in Spanish language, report its development, and leave a trail that would compensate for its ephemeral quality.

Ciberia is part of the CELL project (The Consortium on Electronic Literature) and contribute to the international community’s discussion of digital literature choosing Spanish language as a point of departure and as a necessity, both from a philological and practical perspective. Spanish is considered translanguage in the library of digital literature in Spanish Ciberia (Goicoechea de Jorge, 2015; Goicoechea and Sánchez Gómez, 2016). The new possibilities given by the Internet come to substitute cartographical nation concepts for data stream spaces of exchange, modifying rituals of readings, formulas of production and dissemination, narratives and poetics forms. In this sense, it precedes some proposals that also have an impact on the constitution of a transnational selection, such as the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library and its collection of 22 narrative works; Maya Zalbidea Paniagua's collection for the ELMCIP, the Puerto 80 initiative, focused on expanded literatures in Iberian languages based on a selection of 40 works by Gustavo Romano, Belén Gache, Eugenio Tisselli, Milton Laufer and Alex Saum-Pascual. And it differs from others that advocate territorial limits by providing a broad panorama of creation in the Latin American context, such as LiteLat's Anthology of Latin American and Caribbean Electronic Literature, with Leonardo Flores, Claudia Kozak and Rodolfo Mata on the editorial committee and consisting of 81 works in 6 languages circumscribed to 10 countries; or the Cartography of Latin American Digital Literature under the direction of researchers Carolina Gainza (director) and Carolina Zúñiga (co-director) with more than 160 works from 9 Latin American countries.

Ciberia was born in 2014 as a project that aims to give visibility and cohesion to literary electronic creation in Spanish without paying attention to its origin, but rather to its capacity of reach and circulation, so it takes language as a boundary and manages to bring together a pioneering sample in its field. In a translinguistic digital culture, traces and migrations are the usual norm: María Mencía (Venezuela-Spain) works and lives in England, Alex Saum-Pascual (Spain) in the USA, Tina Escaja (Spain) in Vermont, Belén Gache (Argentina- Spain) or Eugenio Tisselli (Mexico) do it from Spain, like Domenico Chiappe (Venezuela) or Gustavo Romano (Argentina). Thus, circulation not only transforms the digital sphere, but also substantially affects the territories and the individuals who inhabit them (Sánchez Gómez, 2019). For that, the current corpus of Ciberia, with 194 items that make up the archive –works (105), authors (26) and theses (63) – draws a constellation that includes 4 languages other than Spanish that coexist with it –English, French, Catalan and Portuguese–; 15 navigable genres such as interactive fiction, wordtoy or code work among others; 14 formats among which we find hypertext, blog, installation or performance; and other categories such as year, software, or reading instructions. In their case, the data model for authors includes fields such as place of birth, gender or professional work, among others. This collection, which was launched in 2015 with a sample of 60 works, with which the data model was refined, now has both a new, more intuitive interface and a new computer system, CLAVY, which allows greater flexibility in the database and in the import and export of the data. One of the main functionalities of this software system is the flexibility in the construction of the data model, which makes this platform the ideal database for a collection of electronic literature as it can evolve along with the criteria of the field. In this sense, the data model, i.e. the criteria describing the field's artifacts, can change and adapt to the characteristics of works that evolve rapidly technologically, aesthetically and even conceptually (Sánchez Gómez, 2021).

This particular way of working with the database adapting and adding criteria, differentiates Ciberia from other portals and repositories in the field, because it has an inductive logic. With this, the library is able to adapt the interpretative criteria of the field to the works and, as Goicoechea (2015, p. 11) explains, to apply its own terms such as "interactive cinema" or "playable theater" to works that escaped the existing interpretative criteria of other archives. For this reason, one of the main consequences of this evolutionary nature of the repository is that it does not leave marks of the evolution of the concepts and terms that make up the field. That is, unlike in the case of the ELO Collections, where we can compare their terminologies over time and see an evolution of certain issues (such as the shift towards plurality and transculturality with the incorporation of examples and works from different languages and territories), in Ciberia we cannot know when these criteria have been incorporated into the taxonomy. However, the taxonomy started from some common minimums developed from the first selection of works and was elaborated taking into account those that were operational in the main databases of the field such as Nt2, the ELO collections and its directory or ELMCIP, for example. From all of them, powerful conclusions were drawn: the ease of navigation and conceptual effectiveness of the NT2 taxonomy; the pedagogical work of the ELO collections that elaborate glossaries with which to approach their proposals; and the collaborative, wiki essence of the ELMCIP (Goicoechea and Sánchez Gómez, 2016, p. 105). In part, what differentiates Ciberia from these repositories is the high modeling of the description of the work, which escapes from a general text to which some tags or categories are added, to establish a very detailed taxonomy that divides the information into three "cards" or levels: a first simple card, followed by an enriched card and a card of resources associated with the work.

The Ciberia library, in turn, is constituted as a navigable space in which to describe artifacts and agents in the field and also to trace relationships between them, as it is an interoperable network. The repository can be navigated both by a general, text-type search engine at the top, and by a side navigation panel that allows crossing categories and making more refined searches. It is a collection that is open to new incorporations of works but also of interpretative criteria that contextualize them, and for that, is a project that needs to retrieve the latest additions to the field from the Spanish language. This project is a sample of a microcosm of electronic literature in Spanish language, a small network that, along with many others, forms the map of electronic literature in Spanish language: a network of networks. In this sense, interpreting this case specifically can serve as an example to understand the complexity of a larger digital cultural system and its limitations.


Goicoechea de Jorge, María. 2015. “The Ciberia Project: An Experiment in Digital Hermeneutics.” Texto Digital 11 (1): 4–20. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1807-9288.2015v11n1p4.
Goicoechea, María, and Laura Sánchez Gómez. 2016. “Building Community through a Digital Literature Archive: The Case of Ciberia Project.” MATLIT 4 (2): 99–117. https://doi.org/10.14195/2182-8830_4-2_5.
Sánchez Gómez, Laura. 2021. “Literatura Electrónica En Español: Planteamientos Estéticos de La Conectividad.” PhD Thesis. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. https://eprints.ucm.es/id/eprint/69028/
Sánchez Gómez, Laura. 2019. “Mapping Spanish E-Lit: Networks, Readings, and Communities.” JCLA. Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 42 (4): 72–83.

Other Collections and repositories mentioned:

Díez, Juan José. 2009. La Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.

Zalbidea Paniagua, Maya. 2013. Spanish Language Electronic Literature collection . ELMCIP. https://elmcip.net/research-collection/spanish-language-electronic-liter...

Romano, Gustavo and Belén Gache, Eugenio Tisselli, Milton Laufer, Alex Saum. (eds). 2019. Database Puerto 80. http://puerto80lab.net/indexDB.php

Flores, Leonardo and Claudia Kozak, Rodolfo Mata (eds). 2020. Antología Lit(e)Lat Volumen 1. Red de Literatura Electrónica Latinoamericana. http://antologia.litelat.net

Gainza, Carolina and Carolina Zúñiga (eds). 2021. Cartografía digital. Archivo de literatura digital en América Latina. https://www.cartografiadigital.cl/map