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Contemporary Experimental Narratives
ENGL 146EN - Fall 2003,  Rita Raley
Thu, 10/2 Hypertext Fiction

Eastgate “guard fields” allow the writer to assign priorities to the various links and thereby, to some degree, guide the reader and control her access to the text. Guard fields are somewhat akin to hidden objects in a text-adventure game; in a certain sense readers have to "discover" certain parts of the text before they are cleared to pass through to the next level. These dynamic and conditional links allow the writer to shape the narrative and preserve the architecture and structure of the text.

In this class we also consider three narrative structures:

  1. sequence (reading in sequential order; classical means of constructing narrative; logical flow);
  2. selection (choices are made; patterns form);
  3. repetition (chorus, refrain).

J. Yellowlees Douglas's story "I Have Said Nothing" features repetition. Repetition and recurrence have a particular place, too, in a text concerned with two car crashes. There is a certain symmetry and asymmetry to these death-events. What is the relation, then, between repetition and genre of hypertext?

"I Have Said Nothing" contains a number of statements that are arguably self-reflexive about hypertext itself. Note these examples, with the titles of the lexia in brackets:

  • [Get it down]: “By now you’ve got this down. You’ve got it down, big time.”
  • [What?]: “He can’t seem to get the narrative order of events quite right.”
  • [Squeaking]: “Beyond a certain level, we’re all infinitely interchangeable.”
  • What can we make of this self-reflexivity?


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