Jeff Rients - "Read/Play: A Brief History of Nonlinear Textual Practices"
"In this presentation I will survey the field of ergodic literature, the term coined by Espen Aarseth for texts that demand nonlinear reading strategies, ranging from Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, Milorad Pavić’s Dictionary of the Khazars, Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Although Aarseth posits ergodic literature as a new form born of the information age, a successor to the linear texts of preceding eras, I will argue that reading ergodic literature can be placed on a continuum with normative linear reading practices. In support of this continuum hypothesis the output of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press will be examined as works that occupy the middle space between strictly linear text and Aarseth’s ergodic literature. Finally, the economic and political ramifications of linear/ergodic continuum will be touched upon.
Jeff Rients is a first year doctoral student at Illinois State University studying British literature with a focus on literary hoaxes and deceptions. When not studying or teaching, he spends time with his wife and daughter or obsesses over his house rules for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
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