Step Aside?: The Reflexive Modern in Click Culture
Amanda Watson

» open project
  (opens in a new window)

Step Aside? is an inquiry into the a/effect of the cultural transition from pre-web culture to the hypertextuality of daily life on the position of the human subject. Presented in simple HTML (hypertext markup language), this line of questioning is taken up by a series of reflexive interruptions to a master narrative on the main page. Part of the thematic is delivered through the typography of the pages. Right justified, black on white, serif text of the main page evokes an early digitization mood. This tone is juxtaposed by the sans-serif typeface in the hyperlinked documents to remind the reader not only of the aesthetic improvement of digital media since the advance of hypertext, but of the ubiquity of hypertext with contemporary learning and storytelling. The contrast in fonts directs the reader back to the origin of hypertext to contrast new media with the style of print culture books and magazines.

This project suggests the indispensability of narrative to manage the complexity of the global condition, and argues that hypertext, while it distorts linearity and subject position(s), is an expansion, not a subsumption, of narrative. Within the text, two short free verse poems ("Reflection of/by the author-body in blank verse" and "potential") elucidate these ideas.

The following works are cited in the project

Barnet, B. (2002). Hypertext, capitalism and military history: How to take down a machine’s particulars. In N. Chitty (Ed.), Mapping Globalization: International Media and a Crisis of Identity (25-48). Penang, Malaysia: Southbound.

Barthes, R. (1974). S/Z. Canada: Harper Collins.

Barthes, R. & Duisit, L. (1975). An introduction to the structural analysis of narrative, New Literary History, 6 (2).

Blake, W. (1988). The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Ed. David V. Erdman. New York: Double Day.

Bush, V. (1970). Pieces of the Action. New York: William Morrow.

Chitty, N. (2002). Mapping know-ware land. In N. Chitty (Ed.), Mapping Globalization: International Media and a Crisis of Identity (1-14). Penang, Malaysia: Southbound.

Delaney, P. & Landow, G. (1991). Hypermedia and Literary Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Derrida, J., Porter, C. & Lewis, P. (1984). No apocalypse, not now (full speed ahead, seven missiles, seven missives), Diacritics, 14 (2).

Dickey, W. (1991). “Poem Descending a Staircase: Hypertext and the Simultaneity of Experience.” In Hypermedia and Literary Studies, Eds. P. Delaney & G. Landow. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Engelbart, D. (1991). Letter to Vannevar Bush. In J. Nyce and P. Kahn (Eds.) From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind’s Machine (185-249). London: Academic Press.

Foucault, M. (1970) The archeology of knowledge, Social Science Information, 9: 175.

Fuller, M. & Pope, S. (1993). Warning: This computer has multiple personality disorder.

Grosswiler, P. (1998). Method is the Message: Rethinking McLuhan through Critical Theory. Montreal: Black Rose Books.

Levinson, P. (1999). Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium. London: Routledge.

McElhinney, S. (2002). Globalization of film and television: A comparison of the preferences of adolescents in Australia and Thailand. In N. Chitty (Ed.), Mapping Globalization: International Media and a Crisis of Identity (99-115). Penang, Malaysia: Southbound.

McLuhan, M. (1967). The Medium is the Massage. New York: Bantam Books, Inc.

Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Moulthrop, S. (1994). ‘Rhizome and resistance: Hypertext and the dreams of a new culture’ in G. Landow, G. (1993). Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Techology. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

---. (1997) “Pushing Back: Living and Writing in Broken Space,” Modern Fiction Studies 43.3 (1997): 651-674.

O’Gorman, M. (2006). E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory, and the Humanities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Tobin, P. (1992). John Barth and the Anxiety of Continuance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Wark, M. (2002). Island in the stream: On being a small country in the global village. In N. Chitty (Ed.), Mapping Globalization: International Media and a Crisis of Identity (14- 24). Penang, Malaysia: Southbound.

Ziegler, H. (1987). John Barth. New York, NY: Methuen & Co., Ltd.

Amanda Watson is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Feminist, Women and Gender Studies with a specialization in representation at the University of Ottawa. Her dissertation explores the intersection of media representations of white motherhood and the ubiquity of cultural pro-natalism post-9/11 in the United States and Canada. She has published on narrative representations of 9/11, activism and the media, choice rhetoric, and social policy. She is also a freelance writer and activist, publishing in the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, and iPolitics.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License..