May 20, 2010
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“You can’t look at your son.”

by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve’s new and fascinating Testimony tells the story of an unfolding academic scandal from many points of view. Each character has their own voice and their own implicit framing story. One, the headmaster, is writing a memoir. Another, the mother of a boy who has just been expelled, is described in second person present. A freshman girl speaks in rambling dialogue with a silent interviewer.

One important question about which we know nearly nothing is how point of view affects hypertext narrative. Most hypertext narratives use third person, though afternoon famously floats into second. A lot of IF adopts second person, which is comparatively rare in fiction. Michael Joyce’s “WOE” has a dexterous point-of-view shift. Bill Bly’s We Descend is all about archives and artifacts (and its sequel promises to be even more interesting).

There’s ample room for superb research on this topic at any level. This is, in fact, an area where a hard-working undergraduate could make a real impact on the field, while it allows plenty of room for a doctoral dissertation.