A Small Odyssey


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 fast-flourishing love affair with hypertext seemed, at this point, a terrible teaching mistake.