Word Circuits


Forepaper by Susana Pajares Tosca, (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

for Messenger Morphs the Media 99


I am a graduate student who has been working on web publishing for some years, and whose doctoral dissertation (in progress) takes a look at James Joyce´s work from the point of view of hypertext theory. I started my research studying Reader Response Criticism and Literary Pragmatics, so that I was inmediately attracted by hypertext s a physical way of following reading paths and to play with the reader´s expectations

After having read a lot of hypertext literature and many hypertexts (fiction and non fiction), my initial enthusiasm has been replaced by a need to problematize hypertext theory assumptions and to push its points, even though I´m still fascinated by its structural possibilities. (A good reading on this that is relatively recent could be Aarseth´s Cybertext)

Sometimes hypertext literature goes further in its descriptions than the technical implementations themselves, and I think this workshop is a good opportunity for both fields to collaborate and to clarify:

  • What can we actually do.
  • What do we want to do and how could we best do it.

The proposed discussion sessions deal with these and other related important questions like: readability, navigation techniques, structure, usability testing, systems compatibility, etc. I am also interested in hypertext´s capability of integrating different languages: text, image, sound..., and the changes this brings to the reading process, so that some authors don´t talk about "reading" anymore, although I think the term is still useful

I would like to discuss the actual degree of choice that the reader of hypertext experiments and how she influences the development of stories. If hypertext is a reader-oriented environment, authors and programmers have to take readers into account when creating structures and tools. What programs satisfy these needs and how could they be improved is another interesting question.

Postmodern readers can read almost anything and are willing to make sense of it. What do readers look for in hyperfiction? The story? Is it a game whose end is to assemble the pieces a linear book gives already assembled? (I´m being deliberately provoking here).

A problem I see when trying to deal with these questions is that all hypertexts are different, even when done with the same program, and that the possibilities of choice could change with each hypertext. Still, we should be able to find some common ground to start our discussion. _



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