. . . As Hypertext

It seems appropriate that Kairos has included History among its first books to review in its "PaperText" space. I say this because the book's layout and form utilize the sort of multi-nodal text and non-linear linking that we'd expect to find in electronic hypertext, interactive fiction, and the World Wide Web materials. As such, History helps readers to see the blurred divisions that are often taken to be separate categories--print-text on one side and electronic on the other.

Following in the tradition of Jaques Derrida's Glas, History utilizes two text columns on each page, one primary and one secondary in terms of space allotment, wherein the reader can expect to find, in the secondary space, material related to the primary. This layout is not unlike that of the frames environment of Kairos, although the electronic medium makes the process more fluid.

Sometimes the reader is presented with background information about concurrent events (12-13), commentary from great books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (107), and landmark events like the awarding of the Best Dissertation award to Sarah Sloane (189). Thus, each re-reading of the text is new and the book almost never finished; it's possible to follow the narrative's flow vertically for a while, and before turning the page or because of it, read horizontally. This sort of reading opens up the historical narrative considerably and keeps the form from betraying the writers' intentions (1-3).

Ted Nellen's review of History makes a related point about the hypertextual "feel" of the papertext. He calls it "a transitional text." Also see Susan Halter's comments about the hypertextual structure of the papertext; she calls it "pseudo hypertext."

Return to Choices

Any questions? E-mail me at: kstrasma@heartland.bradley.edu

Last Updated: 2/4/97
© copyright 1996 Kairos