The dialogic potential of hypertext: Reader response to digital narrative
Ernest Leighton Bond, The Ohio State University, United States
The Ohio State University . Awarded
This dissertation explores both the practical applications and the theoretical possibilities of hypertextual literature for children. The study has two primary foci: the creation of a multivoiced historical narrative entitled The Fort; and the reading of this hypertext in a particular context. To facilitate these endeavors, several preliminary issues are addressed in the opening chapters, creating a theoretical foundation which informs both the writing of The Fort and the methods used while conducting the classroom-based portion of the study.
The writing and design of The Fort in turn mandated constant redefinition of the developing theoretical concepts concerning literacy, historical fiction, and hypertext. For the hypertext to truly be interactive, it would have to remain in process so that revisions, new voices, reactions and extensions could continually be added. The forty-one young adults who worked with The Fort brought to the reading their diverse cultural voices and past experiences. The classroom portion of the study therefore not only provided insights into the literacies and literary responses of students when working with hypertext, it also added to and redefined the narrative itself.
Ideally, the hypertextual format allows students to connect multiple textual fragments in ways that put them in charge of their own learning, and encourages students to engage in dialogue with the text and the various perspectives represented therein. In practice, the students had very different reading styles, attributable to culture, gender, past experiences, and personal preferences, but also enhanced by the multilinearity of hypertext. Students did develop new schema for reading hypertext and began to experiment more as this comfort level increased. What was learned has implications for conceptions of literacy, and might inform educators who are seeking ways to use new forms of literature across the curriculum.
Bond, E.L. The dialogic potential of hypertext: Reader response to digital narrative. Ph.D. thesis, The Ohio State University.
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