[Not in print version. © the Johns Hopkins University Press 1995.]
The at Brown University demonstrate more clearly than could any theoretical argument that writing in this medium creates new genres and new expectations for the reader. Some of these hypertext documents, like David Stevenson's Freud Web or Scott Boyan's Spoon River Web, represent students work analogous to the informational webs described in chapter five; the Freud Web thus contains an introduction to Freud's thought, whereas Boyan's adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology , like the In Memoriam Web , uses hypertext to permit reading the poem more easily in ways that the print version already encourages or even de mands.
A great many of the 200 other webs that students have created take the form of experiments in literary theory, for they use hypertext to test the theories of Barthes, Derrida, and others. Borges often appears as the Virgilian guide to these electronic explorations. Karen Kim thus created a hypertext version of Borgess "Grains of Sand" to the individual lexias of which she linked analyses in the manner of Barthess S/Z, and other students like Adam Wenger wrote their own Borgesian tales and then applied Barthean analytic techniques to them. Derrida, Bakhtin, Baudrillard, Haraway, and theorists not mentioned in the print version of Hypertext also appear within such laboratory-for-theory webs.
Other student-created webs explore the new narrative fiction, though frequently -- very frequently in fact -- the hypertext link, which blurs the edges of the text and author, also blurs the boundaries of fiction and nonfic tion. One of the wittiest of these fictions is Ho Lin's Multivocal Man, in which the protagonist, like the one in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," awakens one morning to find himself transformed. Lin's character, however, finds him self turned, not into a cockroach, but into a literary theory. No one can see him other than a professor of literature who attempts to take him home to his apartment. Ho Lin employs three different fonts, each representing a different voicethat of his narrator, the protagonist, and Michel Bakhtin.
Many of student-created webs exemplify that new form of discourse proposed in Gregory Ulmer's Teletheory (where, however, he presents it in the context of video and film; he has since discovered hypertext). This genre, which Ulmer terms mystory, combines autobiography, public history, and popular myth and culture. Jane Park's Food for Thought , for example, combines personal history, literary discussions of cooking in Asian-American and Asian fiction, and discus sions of eating disordes. Limarys Caraballo's Guyabaya and Cream Cheese , which attempts to come to terms with her Cuban- American heritage, relates her familys emigration from Cuba, discussions of Hispanic culture, her youth, fami ly pictures, music, pro- and anti-Castro discussions of contemporary Cuba, and the like. One of the most interest ing of such mystories is Taro Ikai's Electronic Zen , which uses hypertext linking to allow the reader to travel among lexias relating his experiences as a security guard in Tokyo, work with a zen master, and Japanese poetry. Following one path or sequence of links suddenly brings one to an image of the night sky from which one can take a dozen different paths, some of which cycle back through the sky lexia. The point I wish to make by tantalizing you with these brief descriptions is simply that hypertext is here and that undergraduate students are already mapping out the new forms of discourse that this combined information technology promises. Most of the webs here described have appeared in Writing at the Edge, which is available from Eastgate Systems
Before Brown University took down the server more than a decade ago, anyone on the Internet who had access to an ftp site could have gone to "pub/landow_export" in "swansong.stg.brown.edu" and download (1) a read-only (or demo) version of Storyspace, (2) a selection of my Storyspace webs that derive, though often much changed, ultimately from those created in Intermedia, and (3) experimental student webs.
Eastgate Systems, Inc., of 134 Main Street, Watertown MA 02171; (617) 924-9044, publisher of most of the major hypertext fiction available, also distributes Storyspace as well as the Dickens and "In Memoriam" Webs. In the years since then, both projects have been incorporated — and vastly enlarged in the Victorian Web: