Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

On the Web as Narrative

Dr. Barton D. Thurber.

A decade ago it seemed that hypertext and/or hypermedia were revolutionary: new kinds of documents in a new kind of (technological) medium in which the relationships between authors, readers and texts would change fundamentally.
But this has not happened-- or not happened in the way many of us thought it would. Hypertexts and hypermedia continue to be produced, and we'll examine some of them; though the poetics of this new kind of narrative are arguably still being worked out, it is already clear that the revolution in narratology, if it happened at all, happened somewhere else. The nature and structure of the Internet, or the narratology of the video game, are better illustrations of the impact of hypermedia than the more limited attempts of those who would still be "authors," in the codex book sense of the word; on the internet or in a video game, no one is the "author" so much as the browser or gameplayer herself, which makes the attempts of those who would write hypermedia novels look a little misguided. Who (we are still wondering) is the author anyway, and what is narrative if the book, the internet and the video game can happily co-exist?
There are various possibilities, and we'll look (briefly) at several. We're in a transitional period, in which the relationships between human beings and the stories they tell is in flux. Or our thinking about nature of the author is insufficient or constrained by factors we are only now beginning to recognize. Or, finally, our view of narrative itself is insufficient, constrained by factors we are only now beginning to recognize.


Dr. Barton D. Thurber  (United States)
Professor of English
Department of English
University of San Diego

BA Stanford University with Honors 1970; AM, PhD Harvard University 1974, 1978; Professor of English, University of San Diego 1978-present. Teaching /publications in the area of Humanities/Technology, with an emphasis on Hypermedia.

  • Narrative
  • Hypertext
  • Hypermedia
  • Narratology
  • Computer
  • Literature
  • Author
  • Future

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)