Prolegomenon to the literary study of hypertext
This dissertation is intended as contribution to the development of a framework and methodology for the literary study of hypertext. Its first purpose is to analyze the term “hypertext” and related keywords in respect to their widely varying usages in multiple disciplines to provide required clarification to identify the object of study in literary hypertext studies. The second purpose of the study is to propose a framework by which pre-computer literary works may be examined in relationship to the contemporary form of hypertext. These two goals work hand-in-hand to provide a groundwork of a literary history of hypertext. The first chapter introduces the problem of disciplinary conflicts and the multiplicity of definitions of hypertext and provides an analysis of the points of commonality. The second chapter provides a historical overview of hypertext as an emerging technology. This is argued to be the master narrative of hypertext studies. Chapter three argues that the fragmentation of the definitions of hypertext across disciplines of study creates a interdisciplinary confusion that directly impedes the work of a literary scholar. This chapter provides an analytical approach to the divergence in usage and a detailed clarification of keywords. Chapter four examines the related technology of the Internet. It proposes that, at any given historical moment, the popular perception of the Internet as a concept is primarily determined by the implied structural metaphors inherent in the software tools used for Internet activity. Chapter five is a short transitional section. Chapter six examines three texts: Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations; Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience , and George Landow's hypertext edition of Tennyson's In Memorium. In this chapter, the concept of the “hypertextual” is presented as a mechanism to provide continuity in generic analysis of text between pre-computer literary works and their antecedents in form. These case studies are intended as a model for the beginnings of a literary history of hypertext. In two appendix chapters, related issues in the context of creative writing and composition studies are examined. ^
Edward Steven Shear,
"Prolegomenon to the literary study of hypertext"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).