Nicholas Friesner's Web-Based Stretch-text: A Demonstration

George P. Landow, Professor of English and the History of Art, Brown University

[Nicholas Friesner '05, Brown University, created the Javascript that produces this version of stretchtext. Clicking on bold tags will open the text. Clicking again on the bold text or on the open text will close that section of text.]

The many parallels between computer hypertext and critical theory have many points of interest, the most important of which, perhaps, lies in the fact that critical theory promises to theorize hypertext and hypertext promises to embody and thereby test aspects of theory, particularly those concerning textuality, narrative, and the roles or functions of reader and writer. Using hypertext, students of critical theory now have a laboratory with which to test its ideas. Most important, perhaps, an experience of reading hypertext or reading with hypertext greatly clarifies many of the most significant ideas of
critical theory.
In fact, some of the most exciting
student projects
, the pioneering read-write networked hypermedia environment created at Brown University's Institution for Research in Infiormation and Scholarship (IRIS),
Storyspace, html, and Flash and published examples of hypermedia
take the form of testing, applying, or critiquing specific points of theory, including notions of the
- thus Lars Hubrich's Killing Me explores various effects of our notions of authorship by comparing how a friend of his reacted to a piece of music both when he didn't knew who wrote it and when he did -
- and Pearl Forss's What Is an Author acts an experiment contrasting reader's reactions to moving text versus reader-centered hypertext -
- which Jeff pack's Growing up Digerate uses to organize reader-centered hypertext -
As J. David Bolter points out in the course of explaining that hypertextuality embodies poststructuralist conceptions of the open text, "what is unnatural in print becomes natural in the electronic medium and will soon no longer need saying at all, because it can be shown" (143).

Cyberspace Web Hypertext Systems