Electronic Literature, Chapter 3: Hypertext Fiction

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This research collection includes references from the third chapter of Electronic Literature by Scott Rettberg (Polity, 2018), on Hypertext Fiction. Hypertext fiction was the first form of electronic literature to garner sustained critical interest during the late 1980s and early 1990s. A small but dedicated group of writers began to work seriously in the genre at the same time as the personal computer and then the Internet were becoming widely adopted, writing stories designed as interlinked fragments of text, with multiple possible reading sequences to be navigated through the reader’s selection of links between them. At the same time, postmodernism was reaching the peak of its literary and theoretical interest. Hypertext fiction represented a bridge between the literary experimentation of the late twentieth century and the cultural shifts accompanying the move to networked computing. Although other practices of digital writing preceded literary hypertext, without the small critical industry that developed around hypertext fiction during this period, electronic literature would likely not have been established as a field of academic research and practice in the way that it is today. While we cannot understate the importance of hypertext for the development and growth of the electronic literature community, there is less recent activity in this genre than in some of others discussed in this book, though in some ways the core ideas and basic techniques of hypertext have migrated into genres such as installations, interactive 3D works in CAVEs, and apps for mobile devices. This chapter considers how hypertext emerged within a particular literary, historical, and technological context, and how it served to facilitate the foundation of a critical and creative community of practice.


Namesort descending Residency
David Foster Wallace
United States
Dirk Stratton
United States
Washington US
Donald Barthelme
Houston , TX
United States
Texas US
Espen Aarseth
Ezra Pound
Frank Marquardt
United States
California US
George P. Landow
United States
James Joyce
Jeanette Winterson
United Kingdom
Jorge Luis Borges
Judd Morrissey
United States
Julio Cortazar
Kathy Acker
United States
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Laurence Sterne
United Kingdom
Marc Saporta
Mark Z. Danielewski
Los Angeles
United States
Michel Foucault
Robert Coover
Providence , RI
United States
Rhode Island US
Roland Barthes
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Critical Writing:

Titlesort descending Author Year
#ELRFEAT: Interview with Stuart Moulthrop (2011) Stuart Moulthrop 2017
2009: David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein David Jhave Johnston 2011
As We May Think Vannevar Bush 1945
Complex Information Processing: A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing, and the Indeterminate Theodor Holm Nelson 1965
Computer Lib: You can and must understand computers now / Dream Machines: New freedoms through computer screens—a minority report Theodor Holm Nelson 1974
Crafting the User-Centered Document Interface: The Hypertext Editing System (HES) and the File Retrieval and Editing System (FRESS) Belinda Barnet 2010
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond Raine Koskimaa 2000
Electronic Literature Scott Rettberg 2018
Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One 2006
Electronic Literature Collection, Volume Two 2011
Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field Jill Walker Rettberg 2012
How Do I Cool Down the Overheated Medium? Reading Stuart Moulthrop's Hegirascope 2, "the most typical hypernovel" Shuen-shing Lee 2005
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics N. Katherine Hayles 1999
Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1997
Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization George P. Landow 2006
Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology George P. Landow 1992
Information Management: A Proposal Tim Berners-Lee 1989
Judy Malloy’s Uncle Roger Dene Grigar, Stuart Moulthrop 2016
Make It New: Essays Ezra Pound 1934
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