good lord.....I finally see the light.

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In a way, I'm glad I took EL 336 before this class. For those of you who don't know what the class consisted of, I'll elaborate. We learned all about the history and future of the book. The last third of the class was devoted to electronic texts. We covered an array of topics, ranging from interactive fiction, hypertext (both electronic and not), and the MUD/MOO. I was the only journalism major in the course who had never heard of and never played any of these sub-genres.

Naturally, my blog entries about these topics were about theory and concepts. I'm glad that I took the course sequences backwards (as I missed Writing for the Internet when I was a freshman). EL 336 forced me to learn the concepts behind hyper text beforehand. I'm sure that if I were to be having my first exposure to it, I would be thinking ,"what the hell is this? What were these people thinking?" Instead, I find myself having light-bulb moments. All the readings are coming back to me.

If On A Winter's Night was, in a sense, a hypertext metaphor, in that all the stories were connected (and very cleverly, I might add)

I see glimmers of (I believe it was) Aarseth's theories in Storyland. I recall the part in Cybertext about Joyce's Afternoon game. I thought it was a really stupid concept at the time. Joyce pioneered what Sorells exploited.

Now I finally see what the point of that class was. El 336 was theory, and EL 236 is the practical application. Wow, what an epiphany. I'm a little in shock because when I say I loathed EL 336, I wasn't kidding. There was a 4 page paper due every week (think a super- ultra synthesized essay pertaining to all the readings you blogged about), not to mention forum presentations, an 8-10 page midterm paper and a final 12-15 page paper. I haven't had Digital imaging, Topics in media aesthetics, or Publications Workshop yet, so I can't speak for the rest of my time here, but EL 336 has been the most difficult (sans General Chemistry 1) class I have taken at Seton Hill so far.

Since the subject changes every time the class is offered, I don't know if you will have the same reaction as I did. But if you do find yourself cursing you papers to hell (especially when your hard drive crashes in the middle of your mid-term paper and you didn't save a backup because you were in the zone too deep to pay attention and then have to re-write it while wondering if the $1300 machine is ever going to run again !!@#$!@$), I will offer you these words of wisdom:

you will be so glad you took the class (and will also feel an immense weight lift off you on the glorious day the class ended). You will be a much better writer by the end of those  3 1/2 months.

It's strange how one little reading can cause you to have an epiphany. I haven't gone past the second link in Is Hypertext Fiction Possible?.

That was a long tangent. Now back to the present. Redridinghood would be considered "game like" (#7). While the game told a story, there was no text. the entire work was animated.  You decided what happened to Little Red. I don't know if I would consider Redridinghood literature; to me, it's a game based off a literary work.

Urbanalities is animated poetry. It was weird for the sake of weird. The author exploited the medium. I don't understand it, but was I meant to? Hmm, very Beckett-esque. Very post-modern.

My Body was the work I enjoyed the most. Out of all the works, it best demonstrated the basic tenents of hypertext-to effectively link all points together from a single starting concept. I don't want to call it traditional, but it was a not-too-distant cousin of the memoir.

I will conclude with my thoughts on Aristotle's comment about plot. It basically sums up how hypertext fiction can be considered "poetry"-this is the term by which he refers to literature or drama:
"a well-constructed Plot, therefore, cannot either begin or end at any point one likes; beginning and end in it must be of the forms"

Common paper-printed stories do not begin at a certain point. The character is already grown and has lived a good portion of his/her life. All the character's past experiences are part of the story, yet do novels always follow the character from birth? No. Novels begin somewhere in the middle. And so does hypertext.
 


FYI, there are a lot of dead links in this website.
 

   

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2 Comments

Dani, while you're right that the focus of EL336 can and does change, every time I teach it, I will always include a unit on cybertext.

It's possible that, had you taken EL236 first, you might not have found EL336 quite so frustrating, since you would have a little more exposure to cybertexts.

I really appreaciate your candor in your blogs and in class, and it's very rewarding to be able to share in this Friday night lightbulb moment.

Jed Fetterman said:

I think it is funny that you talk about EL336 in a similar way to what I feel about this class. I would not say that I am frustrated, but I am mildly annoyed at how blogs and comments we have to post only to post more. I felt like I was learning a lot up to this point, and now I feel like I'm grabbing at nothing. A lot of these works made me make up a story to fit the quotes and text. Maybe that is the point, or maybe the point is never to grasp the point. I don't know.

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