blog seven

Not that any of you are reading anything but news about the national health care bill passing, but here’s a post anyway…

After reading the latest assigned sections of Landow, I have a somewhat better understanding of hypertext and Web authorship/readership. I thought he made a significant point when he noted that print writing requires “closing off connections and abandoning lines of investigation that hypertextuality would have made available” (131). Essentially, were a print writer to attempt to include all the diversions that hypertext allows, their essay could become a whole new animal altogether. However, Landow asserts (with support from Derrida) that “the linear habits of thought associated with print technology often influence us to think in particular ways that require narrowness, decontextualization, and intellectual attenuation, if not downright impoverishment” (132). But I disagree: though the medium (of print) itself may follow this pattern in its delivery, all text requires a reader and all readers are going to make different associations, leading to different interpretations and different directions. I believe that the mind is capable of hypertextual associations, regardless of the medium from which they read their text. Landow notes that “selection is one of the principles of effective argument,” which I also believe to be true (133). In fact, I think that all hypertext does is “clean up” a disordered, unfocused, or weak essay (in print or any other media) and turn it into a more orderly, subjective read (something print already has going for it, though obviously without the ability to cohesively and concisely employ all the author’s ideas in the same location). Still, one could argue that both the inclusion of all somewhat relevant lines of thought (whether in hypertext or in print) would 1. do the very thing the Landow said weakens a strong textual argument (go off on tangents) and 2. create an entirely new argument with different centers and areas of emphasis (therefore communicating a different thesis or focus altogether).

As far as authorship is concerned, Landow states that if he were to have written his textbook in hypertext instead of in print, then he may have “sacrificed a certain amount of authorial control, ceding some of it to the reader” (135). Well-stated, I think, because with print, the reader is mostly at the writer’s mercy. This, however, can be a pro and a con, so I can see Landow’s argument. But, writing our textbook in hypertext would force him (and our professor) to take the chance that we don’t all read the same text (I mean, how do you assign hypertext?). In my opinion, to posit that hypertext has (or requires) any “home” body or text illustrates how conservatively and traditionally bound we are to the old (print) idea of an essay. If something is truly hypertextual, then it is a journey for the reader, and no reader’s journey is the same.


2 Responses to “blog seven”

  1. 1 Tiffany
    March 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Hey Jen!
    -I have to start off by saying I absolutely love the polka dots! As of what I got out of Dr. Kearney’s explanation and reading Landow (never much from the book), I believe you are making an argument for the importance of Keat’s poem, Shakespeare’s Richard III as well as your nephew. You collaborated with Keats and the creator of the film version of Shakespeare’s Richard III as well as Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. You gave value to Keats and Shakespeare by giving them credit in their particular areas. I would also give credit to your musicians as well.

    As for changes in direction, you give multiple links to click on, audio/video to listen to and watch. Although as you said in this post, they do take you off on a tangent, I think it is interesting to see how much information can be gathered on a subject. The more options available, the more one can take in. Overall, looks like you are doing a terrific job with your site and I can’t wait to see the links up and running when they finally cooperate.

  2. April 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog on Landow and linear thinking. I agree and disagree with you on a few things. I think you are right that Landow is making a pretty harsh generalization of print media being “closed off” or creating a “narrow” minded way of thinking about a subject. He does not give the reader nearly enough credit for their ability to think of a text outside of what is presented. We all have our own biases, experiences and perspectives that we bring into a piece of written text that adds to the richness of our reading experience, no matter what media we read it in. I do agree with Landow though that HOW things are written and read can effect how a reader interprets or experiences it. Not to hark back to our trip to VA last week, but this reminded me of the question I asked Dr. Menser about how an authors medium of writing would effect how they wrote or thought. When we write a static paper, we know ahead of time how we will format it and how it will be read and that (subconsciously or not) will effect what we as authors choose to write and how our readers will understand how to read something. Anyways. I like your points and now I must go blog because I have given myself an idea. Thanks love!

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