Paper for HTWW 00

Anja Rau / Susana P. Tosca

This session will explore ways to discuss hypertext with or without established tools of literary theory. During ten years of hypertext conferences, literary criticism has always held something of the position of a gate-crasher who always got a warm welcome, but never an invitation card. Now it is time for visions and revisions, to ask not only "Where are the hypertexts?", but also "How do we talk about hypertexts?" "How do we recognize them if we have no concepty of or terminology for them?".

The way we talk about writing determines the way we write: if we conceptualize hypertext as a continuation of writing as we know it, using the terms that have served us well when talking about traditional writings, do we not bar the way for really *new* writings in hypertext? If we see really *new* (hyper)texts, can we talk about them with the terms we know?

On the other hand, if we define hypertext as something completely opposite to print, as a medium that "embodies" all that writing cannot do, how can we talk about it at all? Can we see what we cannot name and if we can see it, how can we relate it?

Hypertext cricitism seems to be stuck in a basic contradiction: what the early theorists claim has no practical application in the hypertexts we have today. We'll present examples of these contradictions to provoke some thinking: why the breach? who is "wrong", the theorists or the writers? what can we learn from these contradictions?

But there are more practical questions to be asked, too. If we talk about the place of hypertextual fiction within classical genres, we have to ask for the place of hyper-lit-crit in the curricula as well. How do we ground our own field in the dangerous world of Academia? Do we have to shape the hypertext we want to read in class to fit the curricula or will the study of hypertext reshape the curricula - and in what way? Discussions will focus on questions such as:

This session is aimed at all those working in Humanities, specially Literature, Linguistics, Philosophy and Cultural Studies, but other approaches are also welcome. It seems that producing arts in the digital medium brings together the two cultures, the artist and the scientist, the "literary people and the "systems people" - we would like to encourage this raising of mixed voices for mixed media in our workshop.

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