February 25, 2009

UOC: Please Reconsider

by Nick Montfort · , 12:27 am

I learned in the past few days that Laura Borràs Castanyer of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is apparently being dismissed from her position at UOC.

This comes as quite a surprise, as Professor Borràs directs Hermeneia, a major European research group on digital literature; is also organizing the 2009 e-Poetry conference; has been overseeing the Ciutat de Vinaros Prize for digital literature; and is serving in the editorial collective for The Electronic Literature Collection, volume 2, the follow-up to the first volume that Scott and I worked on with Kate Hayles and Stephanie Strickland. Without having heard the complete story, the justification for this action apparently has something to do with her not having performed adequate service. This justification is also rather surprising, given only these activities that those of us in the Electronic Literature Organization know about.

Academics active in the ELO, and some from other professional circles, have begun a letter-writing (and in some cases, blog-posting) campaign, contacting officials of the UOC, and specifically Internet researcher Manuel Castells, who apparently became aware of the dismissal after assuming his new post at the University.

Supporters of Dr. Borràs have urged the University to reconsider its action, as I certainly do. The dismissal seems unusual from my perspective, and could hinder work in our field.

Thanks to many members of the ELO for discussion of this issue, particularly Stuart Moulthrop.