English 8710: Hypertext Fiction & Theory (Winter 1999)
Rita Raley 
[course taught in the Department of English, University of Minnesota] 
Office Hours: T 2-3; Th 2-3 (Lind 16)
Class Schedule: T 3:30-5:50 (Lind 202)

Link to my related undergraduate courses at the University of Minnesota, "Electronic Literature & Culture" (Spring 2000) and "Electronic Literature & Culture: The Work of Art in the Digital Age" (Honors Seminar; Fall 2000)

Course Description

What are the paradigms of knowledge and literary production being ushered in by "electracy," or, more broadly, "information literacy"? What are the relations between, on the one hand, the formal and generic properties of hypertext fiction and, on the other, the technical features of the medium and its organizational units:  the node, the byte, the packet?  What we have seen in the prophecies of the "death" or "end" of the book has been the end of the belief in the book as repository and transmitter of definitive cultural value; that sense of value has in part been displaced onto the chip, the database, the electronic archive, and their framing mechanism, the screen.  Hypertext narratives, though, complicate this sense of displacement, for they indicate the extent to which literature is by no means an antiquated cultural form relegated to the obsolescent spheres of print—it has instead virtually transformed itself and this course will investigate how it has done so.  We will discuss the theoretical and cultural antecedents of hypertext; the nostalgia and yearning for the presence promised by The Book; the tropes and figures of electronic culture; the epistemological and stylistic shifts of hypertextual narrative; and the problem of literary value in the Information Age. 

George Landow, ed., Hyper/Text/Theory
Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature
Steven Johnson, Interface Culture
Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck
Timothy Druckrey, ed., Electronic Culture
Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
Stuart Moulthrop, Victory Garden
Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext, 1:2
George Landow, Hypertext 2.0
Course Reader available at Paradigm 

Course Requirements

(1) Seminar Paper or Project; (2) Class Participation & Presentation 
(1) At the end of the quarter, seminar participants will place their work, however temporarily, online. (I will hold a separate tutorial for anyone interested in learning the basics of HTML, WYSIWYG editors and FTP’ing.  Otherwise, there are a number of technicians on campus who can assist you.)  If the project is a standard seminar paper, then the approximate length should be 15-18 pages in print.  If the project is more explicitly hypertextual, however, then the guiding quantitative principle should be subsumed to conceptual scope; that is, the project should be equivalent to a seminar paper only in argumentative range and ambition.  Hypertext fiction projects are also welcome, but they should be accompanied by a short (4-5 pp.) critical analysis of the composition.  Due date: March 19. 
(2) The other requirement for the course will be a short class presentation.  You should make arrangements to see me briefly the Thursday before class, so we can speak about your general line of inquiry and the text(s) you have chosen.

Reading Schedule*

January 12:  Introduction to Hypertext Fiction

Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl (E) 
Howard S. Becker, "A New Art Form: Hypertext Fiction" (OL) 
Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, chapters 1, 4 
Supplementary:  Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (EC, OL); George Landow, "Hypertext: An Introduction," "Reconfiguring the Text" from Hypertext 2.0 
Print Links: Ilana Snyder, Hypertext: The Electronic Labyrinth (NYU Press, 1996)

January 19:  The Problem of the Author & the Reader 

Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author" (R) 
Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?" (R) 
Mark Poster, "What’s the Matter with the Internet" (R) 
Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, chapter 8 
George Landow, "Reconfiguring the Author," from Hypertext 2.0
Supplementary:  Steven Johnson, "Text" from Interface Culture
Hypertext Links: J. Yellowlees Douglas, "Gaps, Maps and Perception: What Hypertext Readers (Don't) Do"; Michael Joyce, "Nonce Upon Some times: Rereading Hypertext Fiction," MFS (1997) 

January 26: Talking about a revolution?: The End of the Book & the ‘New’ Text

Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media, Introduction and Chapter 1 (R) 
Robert Coover, "The End of the Book," New York Times Book Review (OL) 
Richard Lanham, "Elegies for the Book" from The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts (R) 
Michael Joyce, "Notes toward an Unwritten Non-Linear Electronic Text: ‘The Ends of Print Culture’ (a work in progress)" (OL) 
Sven Birkerts, Carolyn Guyer, Bob Stein, and Michael Joyce, "Page versus Pixel: Part One of FEED’s Dialogue on Electronic Text" (OL) 
John Tolva, "The Heresy of Hypertext: Fear and Anxiety in the Late Age of Print" (OL) 
Supplementary: Sven Birkerts, "Hypertext: Of Mouse and Man" (R)
Print Links: Michael Joyce, Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics (U Michigan 1995); Jay David Bolter, "The Future of the Book" (1996)

February 2:  Hypertext & Metaphor: The Text as Network

Print links: Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths" and "The Library of Babel"; Ted Nelson, Literary Machines (1987); Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (U. Minnesota 1987)  Matthew Miller, "Trip" (OL, must be accessed through campus network) 
Mark Bernstein, "Patterns of Hypertext" (OL) 
Jane Yellowlees Douglas, "I Have Said Nothing" (E) and Mary-Kim Arnold, "Lust" (E) 
Jane Yellowlees Douglas, "‘How Do I Stop This Thing?’; Closure and Indeterminacy in Interactive Narratives" (H/T/T) 
Steven Johnson, "Windows" and "Links" from Interface Culture
George Landow, "Hypertext and Critical Theory," Hypertext 2.0
Hypertext Links: The Culture of Interactivity: Metaphors (Conference; 1998); Alan Liu, The Voice of the Shuttle 

February 9:  Information Literacy, or Electracy

Richard Lanham, "The Electronic Word: Literary Study and the Digital Revolution," from The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts (R) 
Myron Tuman, "Two Literacies" from Word Perfect: Literacy in the Computer Age (R) 
Nancy Kaplan, "E-literacies: Politexts, Hypertext, and Other Cultural Formations in the Late Age of Print" (OL) and "Professor Tuman Responds" (response posted as part of later version of the Kaplan piece)
Michael Heim, "Hypertext Heaven" from The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (R) 
Walter Ong, from Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (R) 
Hypertext Links:  Greg Ritter, "Hyperliteracy: Envisioning a Literacy for the Information Age
Print Links: Michael Hobart, Information Ages: literacy, numeracy, and the computer revolution (Johns Hopkins 1998); Ilana Snyder, ed., Page to Screen (1998); Paul Gilster, Digital Literacy (1997)

February 16:  The Fate of the ‘Literary’ & the Aesthetic in an Information Age

Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck, chapters 1, 2, 5, 10 
Stuart Moulthrop, Victory Garden
Alan Liu, from The Future Literary (OL, access limited to seminar participants)
George Landow, "Reconfiguring Narrative" from Hypertext 2.0 
Gregory Ulmer, "Kubla Honky Tonk: Voice in Cyber-Pidgin" (R) 
Ted Nelson, Literary Machines (R), 2/1-2 
Print Links:  Steven R. Holtzman, Digital Mantras: The Languages of Abstract and Virtual Worlds (MIT Press, 1996) 

February 23:  Publishers & Archivists

Carolyn Guertin, "Queen Bees and the Hum of the Hive: An Overview of Feminist Hypertext's Subversive Honeycombings" (OL) 
Beyond Interface Index (OL) 
Ted Nelson, Literary Machines (R), 1/20-21, 2/41-58; 3/16-25 
Thomas Swiss, "Music and Noise: Marketing Hypertexts" (OL) 
Hypertext Links: Eastgate Systems, Project Xanadu
Internet Archive, Project Bartleby Archive, U. Toronto Representative Poetry On-line, University of Virginia Electronic Text Center, Narrabase Press, New River, Salt Hill, Hyper-X, Hyperizons;
YAHOO!: Web-Published Fiction
Text-Encoding Initiatives:
 Text Encoding Initiative Homepage
Guidelines the TEI published in 1994
Summary of the TEI Guidelines
Table of contents and publisher's description of book about TEI
Note: An anthology of online hypertext fiction is in the works and will be ready by the end of the quarter.

March 2:  Electronic Culture & the "Posthuman"

Jean Baudrillard, "The Ecstasies of Communication" (R) 
Sherry Turkle, "Identity in the Age of the Internet" from Life on the Screen (R) 
N. Katherine Hayles, "Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers" (EC) 
Hakim Bey, "The Information War" (EC) 
Friedrich Kittler, "There is no Software" (EC) 
Steven Johnson, "Agents" from Interface Culture
Shannon McRae, "Coming Apart at the Seams: Sex, Text and the Virtual Body" (R) 
Hypertext Links: Hyperlink to Donna Haraway; McKenzie Wark, "Post Human? All Too Human"; 
Body/Corporeality Theory (VoS); Carolyn Guertin, "Gesturing Toward the Visual: Virtual Reality, Hypertext and Embodied Feminist Criticism"; N. Katherine Hayles, "Corporeal Anxiety in Dictionary of the Khazars: What Books Talk about in the Late Age of Print When They Talk about Losing Their Bodies," MFS (1997)
Print Links: Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto"; N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature & Informatics (U. Chicago 1999); "Memetic Flesh" in Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, eds., Digital Delirium (St. Martin’s, 1997); Mark Dery, "Cyborging the Body Politic" in Escape Velocity: Cyberculture and the End of the Century (Grove Press, 1996); Michael Heim, Virtual Realism (Oxford UP 1998); Allucquere Rosanne Stone, The War of Desire & Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age (MIT 1995)
Print Links: "Net Politics" in Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, eds., Digital Delirium (St. Martin’s, 1997); James Brook and Iain A. Boal, eds., Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information (City Lights, 1995); Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Blackwell, 1996)  March 9:  The Politics of Hypertext
Mark Dery, "Flame Wars" (R) 
Sassia Sasken, "Electronic Space and Power," Globalization and Its Discontents (R) 
Jon Stratton, "Cyberspace and the Globalization of Culture" (R) 
Stuart Moulthrop, "Rhizome and Resistance: Hypertext and the Dreams of a New Culture" (H/T/T) 
Charles Ess, "The Political Computer: Hypertext, Democracy, and Habermas" (H/T/T) 
Florian Rötzer, "Between Nodes and Data Packets" (EC) 
George Landow, "The Politics of Hypertext: Who Controls the Text?" from Hypertext 2.0 
Hypertext Links: Diane Greco, "Hypertext with Consequences: Recovering a Politics of Hypertext"; Jaishree K. Odin, "The Edge of Difference: Negotiations Between the Hypertextual and the Postcolonial," MFS (1997) 

E=electronic (floppy disk or installed on the computer in the 3rd floor lab) 
EC=Electronic Culture 


Supplementary Links

Terminology & Timelines:

More Stories & Hyperbooks: Hypertext Poetry & Poetics Participatory, Collaborative, or Interactive Narrative Archives Indexes, Archives, Anthologies & "URLographies"   More Projects, Installations & Criticism Listservs, Newsgroups & Discussion Groups:
  • IUIC Hypermedia Discussion Group
  • alt.hypertext (interface to newsgroup)
Relevant Journals & 'Zines:
  • frAme: The Culture and Technology Journal
Technical Information:

Rita Raley / Department of English / University of California, Santa Barbara
Last modified:  March 20, 1999