Canonizing Hypertext: Explorations and Constructions by Astrid Ensslin

By Astrid Ensslin

This leading edge monograph specializes in a latest kind of computer-based literature known as 'literary hypertext', a electronic, interactive, communicative type of new media writing. Canonizing Hypertext combines theoretical and hermeneutic investigations with empirical examine into the motivational and pedagogic chances of this manner of literature. It makes a speciality of key questions for literary students and lecturers: How can literature study in the sort of approach as to make it appropriate for an more and more hypermedia-oriented readership? How can the swiftly evolving new media be built-in into curricula that also search to transmit 'traditional' literary competence? How can the idea of literary competence be broadened take into consideration those present developments? This examine, which argues for hypertext's integration within the literary canon, bargains a severe assessment of advancements in hypertext idea, an exemplary hypertext canon and an review of attainable school room purposes.

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The analyses in Chaper 3 will exemplify specific uses of Peirce's tripartite distinction. It will demonstrate, among other things, that hypermedia authors do not generally restrict themselves to one particular use of non-verbal signs. From an aesthetic point of view, hypermedia readers are confronted not only with interlinked text lexias but especially image-text, image-image and text-image links, as well as drag-and-drop mechanisms. As opposed to firstgeneration hypertexts, which use images mainly as illustrative or decorative means, hypermedia writings form an internally organic, intertextual, intermedial and intermodal (Heibach, 2003; Gonstantinou, 2005) whole.

This observation ties in with the diachronic approach taken in the previous section, which came to a similar conclusion with regard to blurring 'generation' boundaries. The textual analyses in Chapter 3 will further exemplify the ways in which such hybridities may take shape. Before turning from critical theory to practice, however, I shall move on to another essential aspect of hypertextual communication and examine the contingent roles of author and reader in the light of hypertext's idiosyncratic structuring principles.

Nonetheless, unlike literary hypertext as a whole, it may be considered the epitome of postmodern authorship - serving as an alternative, pluralistic concept to the deconstructed, 'dead author'. Evidently, the omnipotent hypermedia author, the 'uomo universale' (Auer, 2000), or Murray's 'new kind of storyteller ... who is half hacker, half bard' (Murray, 1997:9), is a hypothetical, idealizing construct, as much as Landow's 'empowered wreader' is. However, along with Stefan Maskiewicz, we may anticipate that digital literature, like other media, will increasingly have to be produced by authoring teams rather than individuals, as cross-disciplinary creativity, combined with sophisticated programming skills, cannot be realized by the majority of aspiring authors (Simanowski, 200Id).

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