In April 1998, 28 students and I sat down to our first
experience of reading (and teaching) a literary hypertext, in this
case Shelley's Jackson's Patchwork Girl, a polyvocal reworking
of the Frankenstein story. Long before the first class ended complaints
assailed me on all sides: I'm lost; my eyes hurt; my back aches; the
screen's going blurry; I thought you liked us (the last delivered
in a plaintive tone of guilt-inducing betrayal).
While I knew that initial immersion in the innovative
form of literary hypertext might prove tricky, I was quite unprepared
for the extent of the students' distress. In fact, Patchwork Girl
induced so much anguish in the first week that I began to feel
like the voracious warder in a wired panopticon. My
love affair with hypertext seemed, at
this point, a terrible teaching mistake.