Technotropes of liberation: Reading hypertext in the age of theory
Hocks, Mary Elizabeth
- Technotropes of liberation: Reading hypertext in the age of theory
- Hocks, Mary Elizabeth
- Issue Date
- Director of Research (if dissertation) or Advisor (if thesis)
- Hawisher, Gail E.
- Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
- Parker, Robert D.
- Department of Study
- Degree Granting Institution
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Degree Name
- Degree Level
- Language, General
- Computer Science
- This dissertation examines hypertext computer technology and computer writing practices in relation to contemporary critical theories of postmodernism, writing and response and feminism. Hypertext, a powerful computer technology, allows the non-linear linking of texts and information into a web-like structure. On the surface, this structure resembles postmodernist theoretical principles describing decentered texts and intertextuality. Contemporary scholarship and the mass media alike have represented hypertext as quintessentially postmodern because of its indeterminate structure and its encouragement of readers to become writers of the text. These claims, however, demonstrate very little about actual hypertext literate practices--namely, the production and consumption of specific hypertext compositions. While hypertext is an increasingly important writing technology for the computer classroom, no composition scholarship explores the cultural contexts and literate practices surrounding this technology in any depth. No published studies ask how people read and write hypertext in electronic social spaces, or how these technological tools mediate composing processes carried out in particular contexts. These are the questions, crucial to composition studies, and crucial to defining relationships between technology and lived culture, that I take up in this study.
- "By grounding reading and writing in hypertext as social practice, I demonstrate how hypertext theory perpetuates the utopian self-representations of the hypertext industry itself. I analyze discourses of liberation in the history of hypertext computer books, in several hypertext software programs, and in the writing practices of hypertext readers and writers. Utopian ideals underlie the designs of hypertext books and their assumptions about knowledge, the literary analyses of hypertext narratives and the public discussions about hypertext. I call these statements ""technotropes of liberation""; they permeate both hypertext theory and the parallel postmodern theories of narrative, reading and writing practices."
- The first three chapters trace utopianism in the major hypertext discourses: the history and current definitions of the technology, the design of electronic books, and the literary analysis of hyperfiction. The last two chapters look closely at the literate practices of a small group of hypertext writers: the reading, writing, response and group discussions all conducted in electronic mail and list format. As a researcher on the electronic network, I participate enthusiastically in experimental writing practices, but I criticize hypertext writing and discussions as predominantly on-line, male-centered postmodernist practices. In the end, hypertext theory and practice continually demonstrate how contemporary theories have themselves participated in the same idealism that currently underlies the politics of hypertext.
- Type of Resource
- Copyright and License Information
- Copyright 1994 Hocks, Mary Elizabeth
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