Hypertext Assignments





Student Projects

We will be writing a "branching path" hypertext fiction for the Web collaboratively as a class. Each student will be responsible for 6-8 individual "scenes" of a work that will mix different genres. In the process we will be exploring hypertext structures and effective nonlinear storytelling.

Through these informal presentations, we will experience some hypertext literature on the Web beyond the works that we're reading together as a class. Each of you will select one of the Web hypertexts from the list of suggested readings and present it to the class. The presentations should be 10-15 minutes long. Some of the approaches you could take to presenting the work:

1) Show the work.

2) Describe how the work was structured by the author(s): how are hypertext links, spatial metaphors, modes of navigation utilized in the particular piece?

3) Describe the technical aspects of the work: does the work rely on simple HTML? Does it utilize flash, plugins, imagery, etc.?

4) Describe the content of the work: if it is a narrative, what story or stories is it attempting to tell? Does the technical structure help or impede the telling of the story or poem? Would the work function differently if it were published in print?

5) Describe any "other literacies" the work draws on -- does it involve theory, science, drama, art, performance?

6) Assess the work -- did you like it? Why or why not? What do wish the author(s) had done differently? What surprised you about the work?

Your final paper should be a 7-8 page close reading of a work of hypertext fiction or poetry selected from the Electronic Literature Directory. You should avoid generalizations about genre or media, and discuss the work at hand in the context of a close line-to-line reading of the text, using direct quotes from the work to support your analysis. Your analysis should also take into account media specific aspects of the work (such as how the author chose to use links, how he or she established a navigational logic, etc.) Your paper should however argue for a specific interpretation of one work in its own right, not as a general example of the medium. This assignment is based on an assignment given by Matthew Kirschenbaum at the Univeristy of Maryland in a graduate seminar on digital studies. The best papers from his class were later published in a feature on WordCircuits, titled E-Lit Up Close. Read the papers published there for some good examples. I will also encourage students to submit the best essays from our course for publication on WordCircuits.

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