The Interlocutor in Print and Digital Fiction: Dialogicity, Agency, (De-)Conventionalization

Abstract (in English): 

Digital fiction typically puts the reader/player in a cybernetic dialogue with various narrative functions, such as characters, narrative voices, or prompts emanating from the storytelling environment. Readers enact their responses either verbally, through typed keyboard input, or haptically, through various types of physical interactions with the interface (mouseclick; controller moves; touch). The sense of agency evoked through these dialogic interactions has been fully conventionalized as part of digital narrativity. Yet there are instances of enacted dialogicity in digital fiction that merit more in-depth investigation under the broad labels of anti-mimeticism and intrinsic unnaturalness (Richardson, 2016), such as when readers enact pre-scripted narratees without, however, being able to take agency over the (canonical) narrative as a whole (Dave Morris’s Frankenstein), or when they hear or read a “protean,” “disembodied questioning voice” (Richardson, 2006: 79) that oscillates between system feedback, interior character monologue and supernatural interaction (Dreaming Methods’ WALLPAPER). This articles explores various intrinsically unnatural examples of the media-specific interlocutor in print and digital fiction and evaluate the extent to which unconventional interlocutors in digital fiction may have anti-mimetic, or defamiliarizing effects.

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Astrid Ensslin