Contemporary Posterity: A Helpful Oxymoron

Malthe Stavning Erslev

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What does it mean to be post? In a time of countless movements of post-[x], the value of the prefix itself becomes of interest: what happens to a concept when we turn it into a ‘posterity’? In the light of recent discussions surrounding post-humanism within electronic literature (cf. Literary and Aesthetic Posthumanism), as well as the questions surrounding post(?)-pandemic platforms discussed at the 2021 ELO Conference (cf. ELO 2021), it seems that we are far from being post-post, and the prefix continuously returns in different forms to allow us to discuss ongoing, multidirectional, and complex changes with a sense of distance and academic rigor.

In this essay, I approach the question of what this prefix does to a concept through an inquiry into the notion of post-digital. The investigation of the posterity of post-digital will run in tandem with an analytical exploration of a case of third generation electronic literature (Flores). The case in question is Totally Not Robots, an online community that engages in a practice of bot-mimicry, or, the act of pretending to be (ro)bots that pretend to be humans. The pairing of Totally Not Robots with the concept of post-digital instantiates a generous and timely case through which to inquire into the pitfalls and potentials of turning concepts into posterities. Indeed, a noticeably large proportion of inquiry into the post-digital has revolved around discussions of the useful-yet-troublesome prefix itself. Over the course of the essay, I synthesize a conceptual stance of contemporary posterity – a helpful oxymoron that articulates the potentially beneficial aspects of such a prefix while simultaneously troubling the lingering periodization that the prefix implies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalElectronic Book Review
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • post-digital
  • bot-mimicry
  • digital aesthetics
  • electronic literature


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