Re: Re[8]: Reassessing our practices

Greg Ritter (gritter@FELIX.VCU.EDU)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 21:17:26 EST

Bob said:

> I'm glad there is now some common ground for discussing
> writing and related matters (distance learning, etc.). I think
it is
> pretty much the case that *one* answer to the question "what to
> the essay with?" is right in front of us as we do the listserv

> Maybe pretty soon it will be
> obvious to everyone that Emperor Essay has no clothes.

Why does the [monologic] essay have to be "replaced"? Isn't there
enough room for more than one form of discourse?

A pertinent quote from Stuart Moulthrop's essay "Rhizome and
Resistance" in _Hyper/Text/Theory_ (George Landow, ed.):

"...[S]ome critics insist that even hypertextual fiction must
retain a degree of striation. Thinking about the application of
interactive technologies to narrative, Robert Coover notes that
we may be approaching a great reversal. If multilinear forms like
hypertext have emerged partly from writers' dissatisfaction with
the monology of print, then perhaps, Coover speculates, writers
in the age of hypertext will have the opposite complaint: 'One
will feel the need, even while using these vast networks and
principles of randomness and expansive story line, to struggle
against them, just as one now struggles against the linear
constraints of the printed book.' "

(Moulthrop is quoting Coover as cited in Landow's other book,
_Hypertext: The Covergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and

In other words, it seems like you lean toward an 'either/or'
view, Bob, when perhaps what we should be working toward is a
'both/and' view--understanding the differing rhetorical
situations that may call for either monologic or dialogic forms
of discourse. Just because "Emperor Essay's" fashion sense isn't
appealing to you, doesn't mean he's out-of-style at every party.

One more suggestion for reading: Heath Michael Rezabek has
published on the Web a conference paper called "AUTOLOGUE" in
which he discusses the self-organizing behavior of e-mail
conversations. Much of what he says is applicable to this thread.
You can find it at:

It might put yet *another* spin on the discussion.

Greg Ritter