Samples for Linked and Layered Essay Assignments

* Thanks to Molly for this week’s really thoughtful workshop materials. I’ve been thinking a lot about annotation and the history of hyperlink fiction in relation to some very different assignments, so I thought I’d post a few links that her materials called to my mind: 

In terms of thinking about doing annotations with students, I can’t recommend the article “A Visual Approach to Syntactical and Image Patterns in Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Essay & Images” on Anna Maria Johnson’s annotation work enough. Seriously. Click through and look at all the pictures right now. 

Stefanie Posavec’s “Writing Without Words” visualizations are also wonderful. Especially this visualization of every sentence in On the RoadThe analysis for these was all done by hand, the images created in Adobe Illustrator – no programming knowledge or dig data tools necessary.

The Canadian poet and master typographer Robert Bringhurst writes on the materiality of reading and writing in many places – and his experience with Native North American languages and storytelling traditions inflects this work in significant ways. Of particular interest in terms of polyvocal narrative might be the works from his Selected Poems (Gaspereau Press) that use color to designate different voiced parts. Here’s a sample page.

Consider asking students to work with platforms that manage links in interactive non-linear narratives (think Choose Your Own Adventure) – there are a lot of these, including Inklewriter and Twine and Quest. You can generally link to things outside your “game” or story world, in addition to linking between your own pages.

You might also consider the Electronic Literature Organization as a resource. They have a page that addresses the question What is E-Lit? and use the broad definitional answer, “works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.” They also collect exemplary works. Here’s the 2011 Collection (Vol. 2).

In terms of situating E-Lit in relation to traditions of narrative (especially experimental writing), Robert Coover is pretty wonderful. Here’s his full talk “A History of the Future of Narrative” (40 minute video), a keynote from the 2008 ELO conference.

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