Terrell Neuage: Feedback onMA Deakin
From PH.D Supervisor Jackie Cook
By email: May 15 98
Here are 15 comments as I read yourMA piece for Deakin!
Don't know how much of this will be useful, since I'm sure you've already moved on
from this - but it seemed worth doing anyway.
Some points we'll need to discuss again - and maybe again - but at least here's a
beginning. Maybe bring this when next we meet.
I'll do the same when I get out onto the Weblinks sections, if you think that will help.
1) On the Literature search section:
- have more of the "literary" journals done specials since you wrote this, and is the
critical understanding of hypertext increasing/improving? - how did these journal articles conceive of the term "explore" the new hypertextual forms? Did they mean "experiment creatively with the form", or "critique its introduction of new understandings of narrative, poetic form, literary creation," etc - or were there elements of both?
Basically, your next task is to bring this up to date - and to tease out different strands of the hypertext enterprise - creative, experimental, critical, those to do with cognition, with cultural influences on audience constitution, reader activity, identity formation,
gameplay - those to do with pedagogy; those to do with form... If you can move to the creation of some categories to work from, this will help - you can then use them to keep up to date across the life of your thesis - always tricky!
Your definition of "literature" from the Macquarie Dictionary is inherently FORMALIST. Do you have a literary theory background, or do you need some readings to upgrade/update from this position?
Look at that definition again for the number of discursive constructions it contains which signal a cultural position resistant to hypertext: eg permanent/characteristic, essential, universal... This is no change, high culture talk... NOT useful for hypertext!
Are you planning to move to a postmodernist position, and to simply use this form of definition to bounce off? eg the Jay David Bolter quote, which has so much more movement and permeability in it...
2) The supervisor's comment on your "chatty and friendly" styl;e.
You may need to discuss this in your writing. PhD styles can accommodate the subjective/personal/colloquial - but it's worth thinking through the consequences. Think about it now, and discuss it with me if necessary.
3) Zervos: I liked your comment on "cyber objectivity" and its resistance to trad bourgeois individualism... This gets you not only into the Cult. Studies ambit in relation to identity and self - a rich load in web studies - but also involves all the Habermasian work on private and public spheres - which you will need to know. Have you read Habermas?
4) The Carver hypothesis: is it enough? Not for a PhD - you'll have to do some work on discourse theory at the linguistic level - see especially Fairclough/Kristeva and Bakhtin on intertextuality. In particular you need to do more on CONTROL of text: the erosion of authorialism which hypertext appears to deliver - but actually doesn't. What is its cultural power? WHY is this claim being made, and what does it conceal?
5) Examine the Phaedrus quote more: it's about objectification/subjectivisation of knowledge. You'll need to deepen this understanding - and it may mean reading Derrida...
6) "The one-ness of multi-cultural narrative"? "Humanism survives"? What do you mean?
7) "in the beginning was the Word..." Are you familiar with Kristeva's work on that text, and her position on the logocentrism it signals?
8) Note: Oral tradition is NOT "simple"... Never fall into these primitivist traps...
9) You need to greatly expand on the Chandler binaries; to capture the cultural directions of writing versus speech - and that means Derrida again...
10) The idea of structural parallels between myth traditions and Web culture: worth examining more. Start a lit search.
11) The idea of print permanence and its cultural origins: you need to run this against the Reader Response theorists: both classic work such as Iser and Jauss, and the applied work by Rosenblatt, Reid, etc, to examine the way text is reactivated and transformed by readers.
Look too at the erosion of genre boundaries - Manguel's new book on reading is good on this - which will link back to the reader response debate, but will also bring in the issue of whether most text now actually IS print based. Surely electronic text dominates, in terms of TV/Film? radio?
12) In the poetry section - this moves much too fast!! You need to begin by examining in far more detail the "imitation" versus "creation" idea - to get to a position on what poetic creativity actually IS in postmodern terms...
13) To return to the problem signalled above about writing style: the sort of "chunking" (Alan Luke's favourite term!) that hypertext uses versus the long expository style of mainstream academic prose is going to be an ongoing problem... Set up a reading list and a response journal on this, because it's going to bedevil your work all over again - the only way out is going to be to problematise it, so start a databank NOW!
14) A question: are characters used on webpages the same as those in novels/plays/films? TV? Is there a new process underway, once the relation becomes more social than performative - or simultaneously social and performative? Or simultaneously social, performative and imaginative?
I don't know anything about this issue - but it sure is interesting!
15) The last pages of this go far too fast: there is heaps more to be said already about "the textual landscape of narrative", about point of view, about multiplicity, about multiple identity...
As a procedural point, the shift to PhD is going to require both far more "pinning" into known theory - lots of referencing and citation - and lots more careful consideration of issues in detail. Whether or not this all finishes up "chunked" and hypertextual, or slowly developed in expository style, it has to be done!! Be warned!
Hope some of this helps...