6.0338 Hypertext at MLA (1/68)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 5 Nov 1992 07:16:49 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0338. Thursday, 5 Nov 1992.

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 9:00:24 EST
From: tharpold@sas.upenn.edu (Terry Harpold)
Subject: Re: Hypertext at MLA

"Hypertext, Hypermedia: Defining a Fictional Form"

1992 Modern Languages Association Convention
Special Session #388
Tuesday, December 29, 1992, 12:00 noon-1:15 PM

Terence Harpold, University of Pennsylvania (chair)
Michael Joyce, Jackson Community College; Vassar College
Carolyn Guyer, Boston, MA
Judy Malloy, Leonardo
Stuart Moulthrop, Georgia Institute of Technology

Until recently, critical discussion of hypertext has tended to focus on
issues of implementation, psychology and epistemology--the problems raised
by hypertext as a kind of writing independent of its generic applications.
Little attention has been paid to issues specific to the writing and reading
of hypertext _fiction_. This session will be devoted to a discussion of
hypertext fiction (and, more generally, electronic fiction) as an emerging
mode of discourse in the late age of print.

The panel includes individuals from both academia and the growing community
of authors working in electronic text and multimedia. In addition to the
sizable body of theory and criticism they represent, each of the panelists
is well-known for his or her electronic fiction.

The papers:

Michael Joyce's paper, "Hypertextual Rhythms (The Momentary Advantage of Our
Awkwardness)," addresses the historical moment of recent hypertext fiction.
He will suggest that the common perception of hypertext as an awkward and
opaque mode of discourse may actually make it easier to grasp its historical
significance. Before the novelty of the electronic medium fades, and
electronic text assumes the transparency that printed text now has, we may
better understand it as a distinct representational form.

Judy Malloy's paper, "Between the Narrator and the Narrative (The Disorder
of Memory)," will draw on several of her "narrabases" ("narrative
databases") to discuss problems of narrative "truth" in radically
non-sequential electronic texts. The randomness and interactivity of
hypertext fiction make it possible to vary the reader's experience with each
reading; the disorder of the fictional worlds that thus emerge mimics, she
contends, the disordered yet linked structure of human memory.

Carolyn Guyer's paper, "Buzz-Daze Jazz and the Quotidian Stream (Attempts to
Filet a Paradox)," explores the structure of narrative temporality in
hypertext fiction. She will argue that hypertextual narratives are "complex
mixtures" (Deleuze and Guattari), in which figure and ground are shifted
arhythmically, in a chaotic or fractal way. The result is an oscillating
transformation of the linear temporality of traditional fictional forms.

Stuart Moulthrop's paper, "Hypertext as War Machine," situates hypertext
fiction as an inherently politicized byproduct of the late capitalist
event-state of spectacle, simulation, and multinational aggression. Focusing
on John McDaid's "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse" and his own "Victory
Garden," he asks whether the deformations of print narrative in these
fictions provide an alternative to the semiotics of the spectacle, or
represent (in Hakim Bey's term) merely "festal" digressions from the
discourse of disembodied power.

For more information, contact:

Terence Harpold
420 Williams Hall
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104