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Manuel Portela

Manuel Portela is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, where he is Director of the Doctoral Program in Advanced Studies in the Materialities of Literature.

Titles by This Author

The Codex and the Computer as Self-Reflexive Machines

In Scripting Reading Motions, Manuel Portela explores the expressive use of book forms and programmable media in experimental works of both print and electronic literature and finds a self-conscious play with the dynamics of reading and writing. Portela examines a series of print and digital works by Johanna Drucker, Mark Z. Danielewski, Rui Torres, Jim Andrews, and others, for the insights they yield about the semiotic and interpretive actions through which readers produce meaning when interacting with codes. Analyzing these works as embodiments and simulations of the motions of reading, Portela pays particular attention to the ways in which awareness of eye movements and haptic interactions in both print and electronic media feeds back onto the material and semantic layers of the works. These feedbacks, he argues, sustain self-reflexive loops that link the body of the reader to the embodied work. Readers’ haptic actions and eye movements coinstantiate the object that they are reading.

Portela discusses typographic and graphic marks as choreographic notations for reading movements; examines digital recreations of experimental print literary artifacts; considers reading motions in kinetic and generated texts; analyzes the relationship of bibliographic, linguistic, and narrative coding in Danielewski’s novel-poem, Only Revolutions; and describes emergent meanings in interactive textual instruments. The expressive use of print and programmable media, Portela shows, offers a powerful model of the semiotic, interpretive, and affective operations embodied in reading processes.