Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media

Critical Writing
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Year: 
2001
ISBN: 
978-08018648
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Abstract (in English): 

A broad narratological discussion of immersion and interactivity, not only in digital media but in print fiction. Includes a chapter fully devoted to a close reading of Michael Joyce's Twelve Blue.

(Source: ELMCIP)

Is there a significant difference in attitude between immersion in a game and immersion in a movie or novel? What are the new possibilities for representation offered by the emerging technology of virtual reality? As Marie-Laure Ryan demonstrates in Narrative as Virtual Reality, the questions raised by new, interactive technologies have their precursors and echoes in pre-electronic literary and artistic traditions. Formerly a culture of immersive ideals—getting lost in a good book, for example—we are becoming, Ryan claims, a culture more concerned with interactivity. Approaching the idea of virtual reality as a metaphor for total art, Narrative as Virtual Reality applies the concepts of immersion and interactivity to develop a phenomenology of reading. 

Ryan's analysis encompasses both traditional literary narratives and the new textual genres made possible by the electronic revolution of the past few years, such as hypertext, interactive movies and drama, digital installation art, and computer role-playing games. Interspersed among the book's chapters are several "interludes" that focus exclusively on either key literary texts that foreshadow what we now call "virtual reality," including those of Baudelaire, Huysmans, Ignatius de Loyola, Calvino, and science-fiction author Neal Stephenson, or recent efforts to produce interactive art forms, like the hypertext "novel" Twelve Blue, by Michael Joyce, and I'm Your Man, an interactive movie. As Ryan considers the fate of traditional narrative patterns in digital culture, she revisits one of the central issues in modern literary theory—the opposition between a presumably passive reading that is taken over by the world a text represents and an active, deconstructive reading that imaginatively participates in the text's creation.

(Source: Johns Hopkins University Press catalog copy)

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Narrative as Virtual Reality cover

Works referenced:

Critical writing referenced:

Critical writing that references this:

Title Author Publisher Year
Analiza i wartościowanie dzieła literatury cyfrowej Mariusz Pisarski 2011
Autorschaft und digitale Literatur: Geschichte, Medienpraxis und Theoriebildung Heiko Zimmermann WVT - Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier 2015
Creating Screen-Based Multiple State Environments: Investigating Systems of Confutation Donna Leishman 2004
Digital Media Scott Rettberg, Jill Walker Rettberg Modern Language Association (MLA) 2010
Electronic Literature Scott Rettberg Polity 2018
Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2006
Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World Jill Walker Rettberg 2003
How Do I Cool Down the Overheated Medium? Reading Stuart Moulthrop's Hegirascope 2, "the most typical hypernovel" Shuen-shing Lee Dichtung Digital 2005
Hypertext Fiction Reading: Haptics and Immersion Anne Mangen Journal of Research in Reading 2008
Hypertextual Fiction on the Internet: A Structural and Narratological Analysis Roman Zenner VDM Publishing 2005
Linking Strategies Susana Pajares Tosca 2014
Písanie v interaktívnych médiách. Digitálna fikcia /Writing in the Interactive Media. Digital Fiction Zuzana Husárová 2009
Shapeshifting texts: following the traces of narrative in digital fiction Daniela Côrtes Maduro 2014
Tekstspill i hypertekst. Koherensopplevelse og sjangergjenkjennelse i lesing av multimodale hyperfiksjoner Hans Kristian Rustad 2008
Theorizing Digital Narrative: Beginnings, Endings, and Authorship Jennifer Roudabush 2012
Towards Network Narrative: Electronic Literature, Communication Technologies, and Cultural Production David M. Meurer Dichtung Digital 2012
Travels in Cybertextuality. The Challenge of Ergodic Literature and Ludology to Literary Theory Markku Eskelinen 2009
What Hypertext Is Noah Wardrip-Fruin 2004

Teaching Resource using this Critical Writing:

Resource Teaching Resource Type Author Year
Electronic Literature (DIKULT 203, Fall 2012) Syllabus Leonardo L. Flores 2012

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Jill Walker Rettberg