I just discovered that there’s an iPad version of Marc Saporta’s Composition No.1 (one of the example boxed texts from Visual Editions we used in class last week). Here’s the marketing blurb for their digital version: The Composition No. 1 iPad app looks at different ways of bringing to life the book’s non-linear reading experience. The app brings the idea of “reading the book in any order” to a new level, forcing the whole randomising experience onto the reader. How does it work? The pages don’t stop moving unless you physically hold them down with your finger, forcing you to engage with the book in a completely new way. And yes, those letter landscapes do still play some role.
I was talking in class last week about a “canonical” e-lit piece that I couldn’t remember the name of but that used links/shifts in text in unusual ways. Turns out, the project I was thinking of was “The Jew’s Daughter” by Judd Morrissey, with contributions from Lori Talley. First published in 2000.
The ELO describes the project like this: The Jew’s Daughter is a work that renegotiates the concept of the hypertext to present a reconfigurative narrative. As the reader moves the mouse over links, segments of a page replace one another fluidly, giving the reader the sensation of watching a single page evolve step by step into another kind of textual instrument with its own sense of narrative rhythm. *They also provide files you can download to experience the project, if you’re having trouble with the online version.
* 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 Road. The 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.