Hypermedia: Some Technology, Some Implications (Fall 1999)

Writing Assignment: Is the Talmud a hypertext?

Assigned: Sunday, August 22, 1999
Draft Due: Thursday, August 26, 1999; Bring three legible copies to class to share!
Paper Due: Thursday, September 1, 1999

This is a writing assignment. You should reflect on my notes on writing assignments before undertaking this assignment.


In some discussions of hypertext, it has been suggested that the Talmud is a form of hypertext. For example, in Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Hyperspace, Janet Murray writes

Hypertext formats are not new as intellectual structures. The Talmud, for instance, is a giant hypertext consisting of biblical text surrounded by commentaries by multiple rabbis.

But is this a reasonable claim? Write a 400-600 word argument for or against the claim that the Talmud is a hypertext. You will be assigned a perspective. Your argument should include a clear thesis statement and should show evidence that you understand what hypertext is and what the Talmud is.

You may not know what the Talmud is, so I've included a few sample pages from various copies along with this assignment. You may want to visit the links included at the end of the assignment. You may also want to visit the library to discover what else you can learn.

In order to write this paper, you will need to consider what hypertext is (presumably, basing some of your considerations on various definitions you may find) and what the Talmud is. You should ask yourself the following questions

Because the paper is so short, you will not have space for a number of different arguments. You should focus on one short argument, with some space for reacting to possible oppositions.

We may place your paper on the Web. Use this to guide your understanding of your audience. In particular, you should write to a general Web-literate audience. That is, your readers will understand hypertext primarily as ``another name for the Web'' and may not know what the Talmud is.


Here are some links that you may find helpful. (Note that we have not looked at any of these in depth; they are the result of a relatively quick Web search.) Make sure to cite them appropriately.

Some Other Potential Sources

Here are some other readings that you may find helpful. Make sure to cite the ones you use explicitly.

Bolter, Jay David (1991). Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates. [Required text.]

Bush, V. (July 1945). ``As We May Think''. Atlantic Monthly, 176, 1, pp. 101-108. [A photocopy is attached.]

Kraemer, D. C. (1990). The Mind of the Talmud: An Intellectual History of the Bavli. New York: Oxford University Press. [On reserve in Burling.]

Landow, G. P. (1997). The Definition of Hypertext and Its History as a Concept. In Hypertext 2.0. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. [A photocopy is attached.]

Murray, J. H. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press. [On reserve.]

Steinsaltz, A., Chaya, G. (Trans.) (1976). The Essential Talmud. New York: Basic Books. [On reserve in Burling.]

Steinsaltz, Rabbi A. (1989). ``The Layout of a Talmud Page''. The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition, A Reference Guide. Random House. [A photocopy of the section accompanies this assignment. The full volume is on reserve in Burling.]


Monday, 22 March 1999

Saturday, 27 March 1999

Thursday, 22 July 1999

Tuesday, 11 August 1999

Monday, 16 August 1999

Friday, 20 August 1999

Disclaimer Often, these pages were created "on the fly" with little, if any, proofreading. Any or all of the information on the pages may be incorrect. Please contact me if you notice errors.

This page may be found at http://www.math.grin.edu/~rebelsky/Courses/Tutorial/99F/Assignments/talmud.html

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