Selected Bibliography of Hypertext Criticism

Susana Tosca and Jill Walker*
DIAC, IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Email: Web site:
*Department of Humanistic Informatics, University of Bergen, Norway
Email: Web site:

It's a common complaint: "There's no criticism of actual hypertexts. Everyone just writes theory." In fact there is quite a lot of concrete criticism available, but it's hard to find. Many people miss out on a lot of good hypertext criticism. Hopefully, this bibliography will help. It has been put together by the editors of this special issue with the invaluable help of Mark Bernstein and Diane Greco, who have unearthed even more titles for us.

The following works are articles and essays that discuss specific hypertext fictions in some detail. To gather sustained hypertext criticism we have excluded many brief reviews and theoretical works that mention hypertext fictions in passing.

Editor's note. This bibliography was supplemented with two new entries on 4th March 2003.


Aarseth, Espen. "Hypertext Aesthetics" in Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), 1997
This chapter discusses Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story in some detail, mainly for the purpose of drawing conclusions about hypertext fiction in general.
Cole, William. "Choice vs Interaction: The Case of Online Caroline", Hypertext 2001. edited by Hugh Davis, Yellowlees Douglas and David D. Durand (New York: ACM) 2001, pp. 69-70
A short paper discussing Rob Bevan and Tim Wright's Online Caroline: <>
Coover, Robert. "The End of Books", New York Times Book Review, New York: 1, 1992
An influential newspaper article that initiated a broader awareness of the genre.
Douglas, J. Yellowlees. ""How Do I Stop This Thing?": Closure and Indeterminacy in Interactive Narratives", Hyper/Text/Theory. edited by George P. Landow (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), 1994
An early and influential analysis of Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story.
Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books -- or Books without End? (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press), 2000
This book continues and broadens Douglas's look at afternoon and other hypertexts, and also analyses some computer games.
Douglas, J. Yellowlees. "Virtual Intimacy (TM) and the Male Gaze Cubed: Interacting with Narratives on CD-ROM", Leonardo, Vol. 29, No. 3, 1996, 207-213
A reading of Simon Goodwin and Jeff Gress's interactive narrative Midnight Stranger, which was published on CD-ROM by Gazelle Technologies in 1994. Focusses on gender representation and what it means to be forced to act in certain ways to access the narrative.
Gaggi, Silvio. "Hyperrealities and Hypertexts" in From Text to Hypertext: Decentering the Subject in Fiction, Film, the Visual Arts, and Electronic Media (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), 1997, pp. 98-139
Discusses Moulthrop's Victory Garden.
Gunder, Anna. "Berättelsens spel: berättarteknik och ergodicitet i Michael Joyce's Afternoon, a story", HumanIT, 3, 1999, 127
A detailed narratological analysis of Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story. In Swedish.
Hayles, N. K. "Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis", PostModern Culture, 10(2), 2000

Added 4th March 2003Klastrup, Lisbeth. "Hyperizons", MA thesis, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1997 <>

Includes a reading of both afternoon and Victory Garden, and is about interactive reading and readership in hyperfiction theory and practice.
Added 4th March 2003Koskimaa, Raine. "Visual Structuring of Hyperfiction Narratives", Electronic Book Review, No. 6, 1997-1998 <>
Contains readings of Afternoon, Victory Garden, Patchwork Girl, and is about how the visual structure of three hyperfictions informs their meaning.

Koskimaa, Raine. "Reading Victory Garden: Competing Interpretations and Loose Ends", Cybertext Yearbook 2000, edited by Markku Eskelinen and Raine Koskimaa (Jyväskylä: Research Centre for Contemporary Culture), 2000, pp. 117-40

Koskimaa, Raine. "In Search of Califia", in Digital Literature: From Text to Hypertext and Beyond, PhD thesis, University of Jyväskylä, 2000 <>

A thesis chapter devoted to a reading of M. D. Coverley's Califia.
Landow, George P. Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), 1997
Though most of the book is a general discussion of hypertext, there is a fairly lengthy reading of Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl and a brief discussion of Joyce's afternoon in chapter six.
Larsen, Jeanne. n.d. "Who's in Charge Here? A Response to Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl", New River, No. 3 <>

Phelan, James, and E. Maloney. "Authors, Readers, and Progressions in Hypertext Narratives", Works and Days, 17-18, 1999-2000, 265-77

Discusses Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden.
Rau, Anja. "Wreader's Digest - How To Appreciate Hyperfiction", Journal of Digital Information, Vol. 1, No. 7, 2000 <>
A reading of John McDaid's classic hyperfiction Uncle Buddy's Funhouse.
Rau, Anja. "Web/Fiction/Design - a Brief Beta-Test", Dichtung Digital, 31 October 2001 <> (requires subscription)
A technologically focussed criticism of Caitlin Fisher's These Waves of Girls.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. "Adventures in Hypertext: Michael Joyce's Twelve Blue" in Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP), 2001, pp. 225-41
A full chapter is devoted to a close reading of Twelve Blue. Ryan focusses on how she as a reader makes sense of this fragmented narrative.
Selig, Robert L. "The Endless Reading of Fiction: Stuart Moulthrop's Hypertext Novel Victory Garden", Contemporary Literature, 41.4, 2000, 642-59

Simanowski, Roberto. "These Waves of Girls by Caitlin Fischer." Dichtung Digital, 25 June 2001 <> (requires subscription)

Tabbi, Joseph. " A Migration Between Media", EBR 9 <>

Review of Stephanie Strickland's True North.
Walker, Jill. "Piecing Together and Tearing Apart: Finding the Story in 'Afternoon'", Hypertext '99. edited by Klaus Tochtermann, et al. (New York: ACM Press), 1999, pp. 111-117. Also at <>
A reading of Michael Joyce's afternoon, a story, discussing how readers make sense of the fragments and discussing the ways in which the story is both brought together by traditional narratological techniques, and how it is impossible to keep it together.
Walker, Jill. "A Child's Game Confused: Reading Juliet Ann Martin's oooxxxooo", Journal of Digital Information, Vol. 1, No. 7, 2000 <>
A rambling hypertextual reading of Martin's hypertext poem.
Walker, Jill. (forthcoming 2003) "How I was Played by Online Caroline", in First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). Also at <>
A discussion of Rob Bevan and Tim Wright's Online Caroline <>

Reviews and Other Sources

Eastgate has links to reviews of hypertext fictions it has published. Hipertulia, Electronic Book Review and Realtime are journals that often publish reviews of hypertext. Dichtung Digital offers subscription-only reviews of interactive fictions, in English and German. The Electronic Literature Organisation and trAce Online Writing Centre are also useful sources for discussions of hypertexts. Would-be reviewers, or those who are annoyed with the state of reviewing, might be interested in Dean Kiley's Handy Hints for New, New Media Reviewers.