Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sob Stories

One of the most cohesive panels at Hypertext 2007 was the panel about “Hypertext Tragedy.” Nick Lowe (who also happened to have a cool keyboard) introduced the subject with a good overview of the genre in the classical world and the argument that Aristotle’s Poetics was “XML for literary theory.” He also provided an interesting meditation on print culture, in that it was Aristotle’s works that weren’t intended for publication that happened to survive. Much of his talk was devoted to less relevant – if anecdotally engaging – examples of creative misreadings of Aristotle with “the unities,” the “tragic hero,’ the “fatal flaw,” and anything written by screenwriting mentor Robert McKee. Following Lowe, Kieron O'Hara, the author of Plato and the Internet presented an analysis of twentieth century tragic models. Then one of our Manchester hosts, Dave Millard, attempted to answer the question “Why is Narrative Important to Engineers?” He argued that it was both potentially profitable as a research area to be retasked for the game industry and that it had cultural value since humans were “storytelling animals” who gather around the water cooler for critical exchanges. He showed some of the classic rhetorical circuit diagrams in his PowerPoint presentation and then turned the podium over to hypertext author Emily Short. She looked at examples of computerized text adventures that could fit into the paradigm of the tragic genre, including Shade (a dark favorite of my Facebook friend Jeremey Douglass about death by thirst), Rendition (about a torture scenario), and other examples.

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Blogger Lupton said...

As I gear up to participate in some collective teaching of Aristotle this fall, I read your post with great interest. The Poetics as hypertext? I like it!

5:52 AM  

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