A Four-Sided Model for Reading Hypertext Fiction

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

I will not pursue the issue of a hypertextual competence (or a multimodal hypertextual competence) here. Rather I would like to take a closer look at literary hypertext and electronic literature itself, and the fact that electronic literature, just like print literature, prefigures different modes of reading. I will insist on the necessity of examining what mode of reading and what kind of responses are prefigured in hypertexts when we make conclusions about hypertext reading. I want to approach the topic by putting weight on how Megan Heyward’s Of day, of night (2002) prefigures the reader's response. The aim of this article is to explore some of the preconditions for reading Of day, of night, and to identify three modes of reading in this hypertext fiction. In addition to these three modes I will argue for a fourth mode of reading hypertext fiction. This mode can be identified in several literary hypertexts, but is less relevant for describing the preconditions for reading Heyward's text. Consequently I will make use of other work to exemplify this mode. Four modes of reading are identified and described. These are semantization, exploration, self-reflection and absorption. These modes arise as the reader interacts with textual elements and utilises contextual features. Through the article the modes of reading will be discussed in relation to similar established concepts, such as the four approaches to playing MUDs identified by Richard Bartle (1996), and different attitudes of reading print literature represented in Wolfgang Iser's theory on "die Appellstruktur der Texte" (Iser 1974, 1978), or what he later in his text game theory calls "text game structures" (Iser 1989; 1993).

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Patricia Tomaszek