Reading hyperlinks in hypertext fiction : An Empirical Approach

Authors: Bom, I.V.D., Skains, L., Bell, A. and Ensslin, A.

Volume: 36

Pages: 123-141

ISBN: 9789027260376

DOI: 10.1075/lal.36.07van

Source: Scopus

Reading Hyperlinks in Hypertext Fiction: An Empirical Approach

Authors: van der Bom, I., Skains, R.L., Bell, A. and Ensslin, A.

Editors: Browse, S., Gibbons, A. and Peplow, D.

Pages: 123-142

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

ISBN: 978-90-272-0805-7


Hyperlinks are a distinguishing feature of hypertext fictions, a form of digital fiction in which individual units of electronic texts – known as lexias – and/or other material, such as recordings and videos, are organised and connected through hyperlinks (Ensslin and Skains 2017). Numerous typologies have categorised the different types and functions of hyperlinks in digital fiction and various theories explain the cognitive effect of hyperlinks on the reader. However, to date, very little research has taken an empirical approach to hyperlinks in hypertext fiction, with existing empirical studies prioritising the analysis of narrative comprehension over narrative experience. In this chapter, we present results from a reader response study developed as part of the AHRC-funded ‘Reading Digital Fiction’ project (Ref: AH/K004174/1), designed to examine both the different types and the associated cognitive effects of hyperlinks in digital fiction. We offer a new typology of hyperlinks based on previous scholarship and report on our reader-response study using a purpose-built hypertext fiction by Lyle Skains: The Futographer (2016). Synthesising a stylistic analysis of The Futographer with results from our empirical research, this chapter suggests ways in which readers of digital fiction employ specific cognitive strategies to parse hyperlinks within multi-linear hypertext narratives. In particular, our results suggest that readers process the potentially disruptive effect of hyperlinks by reading for the plot.

Source: Manual