Cybertext palimpsests - literature to the nth degree

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

"Cybertext palimpsests" continues the study begun in my two previous DAC papers on narratology and cybertext theory. If we wish to make sense of any individual text we must be able to situate it in relation to literary possibilities as well as to other texts. The emphasis has this time shifted from individual texts and users to the changing relations between texts and between users. The basic assumption is still the same, that especially the dynamic digital cybertexts are capable of expanding and rearranging both transtextual and intersubjective dimensions of literature (texts). 

First we'll map out the inevitable changes in the field of transtextuality by following Genette's well-known studies and examining all five branches of it (archi-, inter-, para-, meta- and hypo/hypertextuality). Unlike static hypertexts and print literature dynamic digital cybertexts contain all these relations always already to themselves, that is, between their various phases, versions and mutations. This double identity based on temporal sequencing makes them powerfully active transtextual machines capable of having much more complex sets of relations especially to each other than what has been generally or traditionally thought. For this reason alone it is not enough to merely rewrite and expand Genette's concepts.    

From the cybertextual perspective we should also make a clear distinction between interpretative and other relations between texts. The latter are concrete, mechanic and programmable, the former are those of traditional print transtextuality, expanded or not by the variety of new possibilities opened up by the digital media in general and cybertext theory in particular. Interpretative relations between texts can be (potentially) altered only in dynamic cybertexts (by adding, removing or otherwise changing scriptons) in contrast to print and hypertext. Within the latter (group) there's a crucial difference between on-line and off-line hypertexts. In the former environment (explicit) links and transclusions can be said to function as explorative forms of transtextual connections. Similarly, there perhaps exists configurative and textonic connections between texts. This may sound familiar and it is intended to sound that way since it might be tempting to find an analogue between the ways scriptons are revealed and generated from textons, and the ways these textons are generated from other textons which we may then call inter- or transtextons. I know this may very well be the end of transtextuality as we know it, but I feel fine.  However, the analogue is far from complete, and we shall postpone discussing it until the concluding section of this presentation. For now it may be useful to differentiate between interpretative relations, explorative connections, configurative affects and textonic impacts. 

(Source: Introduction of the critical writing)

Pull Quotes: 

Paratexts are heterogeneous elements that lie on the threshold of the text and which help to direct and control the reception of a text by its readers. These include peritexts like titles, prefaces and notes, and epitexts, situated outside of the text in question, such as interviews and publicity materials. In digital cybertexts this dimension should be discussed in relation to various interface issues as well as to conventions, manuals, protocols, and explicit guidelines, help-files and etiquette given to users and readers to consult while approaching  texts and other users. 

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Jill Walker Rettberg