Held Tuesday, September 21, 1999
- Writing skills: Characters and Actions
- Hypertextual fiction
- What is fiction?
- How can hypertext help?
- Authorial voice
- Reminder: We'll be starting classes at 8:15 from now on.
- Rebecca found information on adult literacy at
Here's the shortest summary:
A 1992 survey by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for
Education Statistics estimated that about 21 percent of the adult
population--more than 40 million Americans over the age of 16--had only
rudimentary reading and writing skills. Most adults in this "level one"
category could pick out key facts in a brief newspaper article, for
example, but could not draft a letter explaining an error on their credit
card bill. A subgroup in this category--repreesnting roughly 4 percent of
the total adult population, or about 8 million people--was unable to
perform even the simplest literacy tasks.
Unless otherwise noted, sample sentences in the following are
taken from handouts from Chicago's Little Red Schoolhouse. And
yes, I did receive permission to use those materials in this course.
- Williams gives us two main principles in chapter 2 (Clarity):
- Express actions and conditions in specific verbs, adverbs,
- When appropriate, make the subjects of your verbs characters
involved in the actions.
- We'll begin by identifying the actions (underline) and characters
(circle) in each of the following sentences. Take about ten minutes
to do so. If actors don't appear explicitly, guess who they might be.
- ``It is difficult to specify a generalization about what constitute
distinctions between a `lack of craft' and plagiarism.''
(From ``Proposals from CAS on Academic Honesty.'')
- ``The holding was that there was an absense of proof of a failure
in the improvment of the property so there was no breach of the
- ``A study was performed on the causes behind the decrease in the
identification of child abuse among emergency room service by
the legal staff.''
- ``Analyses for the effects reported in this study are of two kinds.
Either the congeners themselves have direct and permanent effects
upon the central nervous system, or there may be a retardation of the
metabolism of ethanol by the congeners so that it has a stronger effect.
The probability of the latter is less, because the observation of these
effects occurred well after the blood alcohol concentrations were
- We'll share our identifications. (About five minutes.)
- We'll then attempt to rewrite the sentences so that the characters
typically appear as subjects and their actions as verbs.
(About ten minutes.)
- Bolter implies that electronic literature and other forms of compositions
such as the "Afternoon" are different from the usual text we read. Would it
actually have different effects on our perception and interpretation if we
read the same text on paper and in electronic form?
- Alternately, how might we put such hypertext fictions into a usable
- Will hypertext fiction writing destroy book/linear fiction writing or
will it just be another category of fiction writing?
- If classics are tried to be put into hypertext form will this harm the
integrity of the book?
- Will the status of modern authors change (i.e. to not quite as large
of a celebrity status because they are more accesible and their
works are no longer ``monuments'')?
- Bolter claims that "long preservation" (130) may prove to be an
unimportant aspect of interactive fiction, describing the new medium as a
playful romp through a story that can always begin anew. Do you believe
readers will find the limitless storyline desirable, or will the lack of
stability be unappealing?
- Is our society today be ready for a change like this?
- Bolter has high hopes of electronic literature ripping down the elite
authority given to the authors of printed literature (153). It seems
he views the computer as the link between literature and the common
man. Isn't this paradoxical considering that computers and the
Internet are mostly available only to an elite section of the
- In interactive fiction, "the locus of creativity" partially shifts from
the author to the reader (123). If this is true, how can you critique an
author when you read something interactive?
- How long will it take for television to step in and create interactive
movies so couch-potato Americans can be just as lazy as they are now?
the computer really change how authors of fiction write, or does it merely
change the medium in which they write and provide them with more options and
possibilities in their writing?
- Since we've already mentioned the "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of book
(I'm sure there's some form of copyright or trademark on that phrase, so
apologies to its authors) and then we just happened upon the very same topic
in our readings for today, how soon will it be before most, if not all, works
of dramatic fiction hinge on the same "click here if Jim Bob accelerates
towards Alpha Centauri" style of reading?
- In the very first class, Mr.
Portilla mentioned the "multi-verse" theory of how our known universe
works. Doesn't this relate quite nicely to how hypertext in general
seems to be presenting itself through Bolter?
- Will fiction as we know it die out as a result of advances in
hypertext theory, or will there always be room for the novel?
- Does the advent of electronic writing necessarily mean the end of the
author's authority over his or her own work?
- Borges is concerned about the possibility of exhausting subjects for books.
If our world is constantly changing, doesn't this mean that we will always
have something to write about, in connection with "contemporary" issues?
- If the elctronic book will no longer have a set path that you have to
follow in order to find the outcome of the story, how will this affect
literary criticism, and the comments upon the personality of characters?
- Does Bolter believe that all interactive fictions are games? (And
- Will electronic media make books, magazines, journals, etc... extinct?
- We'll spend a few minutes ensuring that we all have a common
understanding of fiction and the application of hypertext to
- We may want to carefully distinguish between ``computerized
fiction'' and ``hyperfiction''.
- We'll primarily emphasize the latter.
- So, what shall we discuss? One possibility is the changing authority
of the author (or whether that authority changes at all).
Monday, 22 March 1999
- Created as a blank outline. (Can you tell
what I was doing during Spring break?)
Monday, 20 September 1999
- Filled in the details (including student questions).
Tuesday, 21 September 1999
- Removed uncovered introductory exercise.
- Removed Williams assignment.