Beowulf: Orality and Postliteracy
To compare an oral epic, composed perhaps as long as 1500 years ago, with cyberspace, a communication medium barely out of its infancy, at first may seem absurd. Orality is based on the spoken and the heard; hypertext resides in visual space. Yet they share a surprising number of characteristics. Beowulf is a laterally structured epic; it has little penetrative, linear narrative and instead relies on accumulating various interconnected episodes. This web is structured in a similar horizontal way, and itself uses the Old English techniques of variation and repetition to illustrate an argument, rather than logical analysis.