Hypertext Lexia as Bakhtinian Utterance

Bakhtin identifies "utterance" as the primary building block of dialogue; thus, utterance is to dialogue what lexia is to hypertext. Without an utterance, there can be no dialogue; in fact, without more than one utterance there can be no dialogue for, as Michael Holquist (1990) argues, every "utterance is always an answer to another utterance that precedes it, and is therefore always conditioned by, and in turn qualifies, the prior utterance to a greater or lesser degree (p. 60). The same principle is true of hypertext: without lexia, there can be no hypertext, and without more than one lexia there can be no links, thus no hypertext (and no dialogue). If we acknowledge lexia as the utterance of hypertext, then we can show that hypertext is inherently dialogical; and we can use hypertext to make explicit for our students the notion that knowledge is socially constructed through the use of language: utterance in dialectical relationship to other utterances, lexia in dialectical relationship to other lexia.

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