"I Am a Double Agent": Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl and the Persistence of Print in the Age of Hypertext

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Patchwork Girl is a hypertext novel with no paper to touch or smell or fall apart, and its use of hypertext should be integrated into any reading of the text. Even as a hypertext work, however, the novel relies on conventions familiar from the reading of print materials, characteristics of wholeness and permanence associated with paper and print, and the materiality of paper as a metaphor for the patchworked body of the creature.

Rather than continue to bracket Patchwork Girl as a great work of hypertext, we should consider it as part of the continuing debates about the future of the book, the materiality of print, and the relationship between print and new media, along with the effects of these debates on the future of feminism. Rather than read Patchwork Girl as a paradigm of first-generation hypertexts, we can read the novel as a paradigm of the process of remediation, a process that Bolter and Grusin view as having a long history and an even longer future.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen