July 20, 2006
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Patchwork Identity

Steen Christiansen (Aalborg) has a long and fascinating essay on identity in Shelley Jackson's hypertext, Patchwork Girl .

Here it seems that the Girl is narrating, reflecting on her own status but it also serves as a form of meta-commentary on the text itself, something which seems inherent throughout the text. This seems an obvious choice, as the Girl is presented as a patchwork in the same way the text is. Metaphorically speaking, then, we can say that the Girl is the hypertext we are reading and not a fixed subject or person. In other words, her identity is fluid and changes with every reading depending on which narrator we attribute the different lexias to, and in which sequence we read them. As such, the Girl is shaped by our gestalt of the text, to use Iser’s concept, and that gestalt always changes.

It's an intriguing essay, more useful (I expect) to hypertext theorists than to newcomers. Fine work.