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Lecture 2 -- Hypertext and Interactivity

lecture # 2 of CRWR 213

Charles Demers

on 8 September 2015

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Transcript of Lecture 2 -- Hypertext and Interactivity

Lecture 2:
Hypertext & Interactivity
• In what ways do the issues discussed in Rip!: A Remix Manifesto apply to creative writing?
Group discussion #1:
•What defines the roles of "author" and "reader"?
• How might new technologies affect those roles?
This Land
Group discussion #2:
• What traditional medium does this most resemble?
• What's gained in this navigable format? What's lost?
Narratives, old and new
what is the shape of a story?
Georges Franju: "But surely, Monsieur Godard, you do at least acknowledge the necessity of having a beginning, a middle, and an end in your films."
Godard: "Certainly...
"... but not necessarily in that order."
Three-Act Structure:
"A whole is that which has a beginning
a middle
and an end."
So what does this look like in traditional narrative?
Historians vs. Poets
what sorts of things
have happened?
what sorts of things might happen?
The difference is not so much "non-fiction" versus "fiction" as it is "facts/data" vs. "stories."
The key difference is causality.
"Truth is stranger than fiction" because fiction, unlike truth, is required to make sense...
As a class, let's plot out Disney's Cinderella on the three-act structure. What is the inciting incident?
Plot point one?
Plot point two?
Playing with chronology and story structure
Pulp Fiction
Question: Chronologically speaking,
what is the first scene in Pulp Fiction?
the answer is...
Tarantino's non-linear film plays with story structure, braiding multiple storylines together non-sequentially -- the "happy ending" even involves a character whom we've seen killed. But each story still has a beginning, a middle, and an end...
...and Tarantino, the author, decides when and how you see them.
The Garden of Forking Paths
A system of nodes and links. Think of nodes as modules, links as relationships.
Hypertext is not bound to be linear.
It puts texts in dialogue.

Vannevar Bush, 1945: "The human mind [...] operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain."
In 1965, Ted Nelson names "hypertext" -- text with embedded links to carry from one text to another, associated one.
Hypertext fiction/literary hypertext:
The Garden of Forking Paths realized?
Examples: My Boyfriend Came Back from the War, Deviant: the Possession of Christian Shaw, Red Riding Hood
Forms of Interactivity:
• Rollovers
• Flash
• Video Games
• Hypertext
• Input Devices
Impact of Literary Hypertext
• Relatively fringe artistic practice, far reaching implication for newly immersive, interactive narratives.
Think of a story from your own life, and write the first paragraph of it if you were telling it in a traditional, linear way. Next, imagine a way that that story might be told in a "webbed," non-linear version of that story, and write a possible, alternative "first" paragraph for that version.
"My project is extended, circular and labyrinthine. It is an electronic elegy that I do not believe could be a book, because a book is too linear. I need it to resist closure. Death is final, sure, fine, but in grief there is no such thing as closure. There is ebb and flow of emotion, and there is learning to live with the gaping wound, but there is no close. The acute distress does ease with time, and you might emerge stronger from having lived through the loss, but that doesn’t mean you are ever ok with it. A cousin asked me if I had closure the day we had my brother cremated, and I almost punched him in the face. I might still punch him in the face, if the mood strikes."
- Nikki Reimer
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