Category Archives: student blogs

Twelve Blue

To be very honest, Twelve Blue and certain forms of elit initially strike me as… uncomfortable. In Twelve Blue, there are a great number of characters and plots that are all happening simultaneously. The story starts with a girl who falls for a carny, then jumps to “September’s Embers never ending” from the perspective of a girl who is on her way to school. Next is Samantha, who wants to plan a tea party and invite a girl who’s boyfriend drown in a creek. This type of storytelling is so confusing for me. I have difficulty keeping up with all of the story lines and characters, and sadly I lose my focus.

The interesting part of all of this is that when I was younger, some of my favorite books were the Goosebumps: Choose Your Own Adventure books. One page told you to skip to another page, and then go back to another page. However, when I was reading the Goosebumps books I would frequently peek at what was about to happen in both storylines, and choose which one I liked better. Also, most of the time I would go back and read all of the storylines.

The difference with Twelve Blue is that the electronic format gives so much more room for alternate characters and endings. At this point, to me, it becomes overwhelming. however, I am intrigued by this type of storytelling, and I want to learn more about it. I will definitely be reading more of these stories in the future.

Navigating Electronic Literature (Blog 1)

In her short article “Navigating Electronic Literature” English professor and scholar Jessica Pressman introduce readers to a different style of writing literature, that is electronic. In her article, she goes in-depth to explain the historical creation and aesthetic of this digital type of work. Electronic writing she describes is “unlike print literature”, in that print literature is simply pen to paper writing, a traditional form of literary studies that many people know and are accustomed to doing. In contrast, however, this digital form of literature forces readers to engage in the literary work at hand by navigating through links in the story. In the article, she states, “whether it is a mouse-click or a typewritten word, this action affects the work’s performance and the reader’s engagement with it. In other words, navigation enables the digital work’s performance and its signification.” Readers are immersed in this type of reading because they are actively clicking a link that brings them to a different page to follow the story. Additionally, there are other several key points that Pressman make about this type of genre. She also talks about hypertext and its quintessential purpose in digital works.  She agrees and concludes with critic George P. Landow who states that “hypertext [offers]  readers more agency, and even partial authorship, over the text they read than print texts.” This action allows readers to become aware of their significant role in a story.

Pressman’s article was an edifying resource that provided me with the knowledge and skills needed to read an electronic literature. While reading Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce I was able to interact with the story by clicking the links and hypertext included in the story. It was an interactive form of reading that I’ve actually never experienced before this course. I look forward to reading and learning more about this type of literature. 

Before enrolling in this course I expected that electronic writing would be about reading novels and stories in electronic form using a Kindle or audible app, the usual ways that I normally read literature in electronic form. I was surprised to learn that this is a form of storytelling that exists and I knew nothing of it beforehand. Although I still don’t know much about electronic writing I am excited to learn something new and hopefully enjoy this different form of the genre. 


Check out the links below: 




Navigating Electronic Literature for the First Time…Ever!

"Everything can be read, every surface and silence, every breath and every vacancy, every eddy and current, every body and its absence, every darkness every light, each cloud and knife, each finger and tree, every backwater, every crevice and hollow, each nostril, tendril and crescent, every whisper, every whimper, each laugh and every blue feather, each stone, each nipple, every thread every color, each woman and her lover, every man and his mother, every river, each of the twelve blue oceans and the moon, every forlorn link, every hope and every ending, each coincidence, the distant call of a loon, light through the high branches of blue pines, the sigh of rain, every estuary, each gesture at parting, every kiss, each wasp's wing, every foghorn and railway whistle, every shadow, every gasp, each glowing silver screen, every web, the smear of starlight, a fingertip, rose whorl, armpit, pearl, every delight and misgiving, every unadorned wish, every daughter, every death, each woven thing, each machine, every ever after." Michael Joyce, Twelve Blue

    Coming into this course, I have to admit that I was very nervous and filled with anxiety of the fact that I had to study Electronic Literature (E-Lit). Pen to paper has always been my concrete way of learning. Reading literature through a screen was intimidating for me. Until I came to class and learned what Electronic Literature truly was. In my own words, E-Lit is the new way to combine creativity and reading into a form of animation with the use of technology. When I read through Kindle on my phone, I am simply reading a digital form of a book that was once a hardcover. With E-Lit, there is one keyword that drastically changes it and makes it unique compared to literature through a screen. That word is “navigating”.

Jessica Pressman’s article, “Navigating Electronic Literature” opened my eyes to realize what it means to embark on an Electronic Literature journey. She described navigation as, “an element of electronic literature that uniquely affects the ways in which we read and interact with digital textuality”. Having an interaction with the reader is fascinating. In relation to Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce, there were many options to click on giving me a variety of different stories. This was my first time reading E-Lit, so there was no surprise that I was quite confused and did not know what I was doing.

Pressman expressed her feelings about the struggle she saw her students go through when they first began to read Electronic Literature. “In my experience teaching electronic literature, student frustration with navigation and confusion about the reading experience can be turned into fruitful, self-reflective discussions about the role of media on the ways in which information is produced, disseminated, archived and taught” (Pressman). I was excited to read that I was not the first student who was confused about how to navigate E-Lit. However, I was proud of myself towards the end of my experience. While reading Twelve Blue, I spent about an hour and a half navigating and experimenting with the article. The reading of the stories became smoother for me. After realizing how interesting and, for a simpler way of putting it, how fun it can be, I have become obsessed! My goal moving forward with this class and even once the semester has ended, is to expose myself to this new culture of literature and to learn how to teach others about Electronic Literature as well.

Jessica Pressman:
Michael Joyce:

The First Step

It is exciting to write my first blog post for the semester. A digital means of writing for a digital-focused class. I was not fully aware of electronic literature or its impact in the field up until now but it appears to be more fascinating than one would expect. It is simply described as “literature born in digital form” and exclusive to that digital-based environment. Even though it sounds clear enough, it certainly requires more thought to fully grasp its nature and how it differentiates itself from literature as we know it. These first couple of weeks were my first steps into understanding the nature of electronic literature and construct a better definition for literature in bigger picture.

Following the brief introduction to electronic literature, our first small but important assignment for the class was to define literature as a whole. As most students would do, I simply looked up its dictionary definition online to get a sense of what is expected when it is asked. It read: “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit”. I needed to re-write this given definition by my own words and capture the essence of literature but also be inclusive to these new forms that I was introduced to in class. In my re-written definition, I suggested that literature was an expressive work conducted in a communicative form that presented literary purpose and ignited creative thinking. Although I agree with that definition, I also could not help but wondered whether I was truly capturing that essence in question by re-writing the definition or intentionally altering the established definition in order to include the works presented to me as examples of electronic literature? I was a bit skeptic.

Instead of comparing traditional literature with electronic literature, I figured that examining the key aspects of differentiating the two could be a better approach. One particular way to make a solid distinguish would be to examine the existence of interaction. In the article, Navigating Electronic Literature, it is suggested that the key feature of electronic literature is the role of the reader who has the power to navigate through the story and construct his or her own path to the end as opposed to traditional works of literature that tend to present its narration in much more simplistic matter. It made sense but I needed something more distinguishable and specific since this statement could easily apply to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, which is constructed in a traditional environment rather than digital. As it is stated in the article, “Navigating electronic literature is an act of producing a work’s signifying properties in the moment of engagement with them…” and “when and how the reader inputs a command, whether it is a mouse-click or a typewritten word, this action affects the work’s performance and the reader’s engagement with it.” I wanted to experience that complex navigation and Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce seemed to be a great conduit for that.

Twelve Blue was the first hypertext I read. It was an abstract piece and more in line with poetry in my opinion. The construction of story was based on the choices presented to the reader. By clicking on given options in form of links, the reader discovers a portion of the story. Each portion could be examined as a puzzle piece and the reader is expected to navigate through the story in order to complete it. These portions introduced me to the characters and their relative perspectives. There were clues as to how the reader could navigate through the story. For interested readers, the biggest clue to this puzzle rests in the title, the number 12 – as in 12 characters and also some small pictures placed by the author in few points of the story. Something I found very compelling was the change in tone of writing within these portions based on the character which was being focused on. The overarching theme within the story, in my opinion, was drowning; not in real sense necessarily but more in psychological or even social sense. This particular theme was also correlated by the color blue that formed the text and the background. The figurative tone of story in its abstract form and the complex navigational format truly made me feel that predicament as I read it, and it was something that could not be duplicated without the digital environment in which the story is meant to be read.

Reading and navigating through Twelve Blue was certainly a very interesting experience. Even though the style of story was not my cup of tea necessarily, being very poetic and figurative, it did provide great examples of what one could archive with a narration conducted in digital environment. It did display a distinct atmosphere in contrast with traditional literary works and also created a genuine challenge. Jessica Pressman, author of Navigating Electronic Literature, mentions in her article that “…student frustration with navigation and confusion about the reading experience can be turned into fruitful, self-reflective discussions about the role of media on the ways in which information is produced, disseminated, archived, and taught.” This is certainly true. The most important realization after going through Twelve Blue was that I was attempting to answer the wrong question in order to achieve the true definition of literature. The question that I should actually attempt to answer is: Does literature require the action of reading in order to observe its essence and merit or can literature be experienced through multiple actions instead? Although I might not have a solid answer to that as of now, I’m quite certain that further analysis on other electronic literature examples in upcoming weeks is going to allow me to find it wholly.

I am certainly looking forward to our following assignments to discover more about the nature of this new field of literature.

First Experience with Electronic Literature!

Electronic Literature was something I had never heard of before taking this #Elit course. Now that I have started learning more about it, it is very interesting and new. You can never turn away from discovering something new and exciting.

However, my real experience began with the first reading assignment. We had to read it for an hour and I will say that it was a struggle in the beginning. The reading was Twelve Blue  by Micheal Joyce. From the beginning, the color blue was a huge part of the whole premise of the literature. Personally, it was a distraction because the color was a too bright for me to be able to read. I will not go into that too much since that was not the point of the assignment. But I will go through the experience of reading what I will call part one since the story is kind of split into parts and I will also relate my experience to the article.

The main point of the article was navigating electronic Literature. When reading Twelve Blue, the component that made it electronic literature was the hypertext. While navigating, there were a lot of hyperlinks there were placed in different positions which I believe were the intentions of the author. Some of the pages had one link while some had five links which all worked. I also noticed that each of these links had their own titles. They appeared on the tab when I clicked the linked which was pretty interesting. Another thing I noted was that, when I clicked one of the links, the tab remained the same. it did not open a different tab. I  believe that was also deliberate because if a new tab had open every time I clicked the hyperlink, it would have ruined my reading experience.

Blog 1

Despite the story Twelve Blue being a hard read for me, I understood some parts of the page and how to get around to other parts of the story. Unfortunately, I got confused as to where to go for part 9, so that took away from my experience and I became disengaged with the story quickly after.

At first, when reading the article, I overthought the concept of navigating through elit. I feel confident that I will identify stories that are easy to navigate through on a computer without losing the story. I have never read a book online, but I’m sure it would be a much easier read than if I read a hard copy.

On Navigating Electronic Literature

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That line can apply to countless types of situations, but in this case I’m applying in a rather personal sense. I’m talking of course, about my absolutely triumphant return to studying electronic literature.

Back in 2014, I decided to take Intro To E-Lit (not much of an intro anymore I suppose) during an absolutely stacked semester. I took 15 credits instead of 12, the insanity. Despite this, there was a certain respite that the class had provided that I couldn’t really put my finger on at the time; I entered each week with a sense of excitement, not dread. I now know however, the main reason behind this feeling.

A lot has happened since my first venture into E-Lit back in 2014, in technology, in literature, and even in myself as a person. And the very concept of electronic literature, the storytelling, the narrative, and the visuals, has sat on an interesting, almost neutral plane the entire time, not quite taking advantage of the new enhancements that technology has offered, but rather placing an emphasis on design and style to compose most E-Lit works Focusing on the role of navigation in electronic literature can lead to valuable discussions not only about individual works but also about electronic literature in general and its relationship to traditional literary studies, says Jessica Pressman on Navigating Electronic Literature. And with a quote like that, I think a good part of E-Lit can be framed into a mode of discussion, one with examples that can be learned from.

Take Michael Joyce and Twelve Blue, the E-Lit reading this week. If I had read it in the previous class then I had forgot my experience with it, and this has allowed me to explore it again with fresh eyes. It’s a labyrinth of exposition and dialogue, monologues and introspection. It could mean a whole lot as much as it means nothing, and it seems to favor the latter.

Twelve blue isn’t anything. Think of lilacs when they’re gone, the story urges me to do when I decide to seek advice on reading it. There are passing links within the text on the right as well, but these, once followed, go away. Never has advice been so cryptic as it was informative.

The difficulty of identifying the “text” in electronic literature is made even more apparent in interactive works that engage the reader as a character navigating through the narrative, Pressman wrote in her article, and I think Twelve Blue is a quick example of just how true that can be. If there’s a story here that I’m supposed to absorb, it’s lost on me. But for what I can take at face value, the text that is presented in the non-linear format, it’s quite engaging, with the links to the new page being a key line in the text, or the borderline nonsensical text at the end of one of the “routes” that encourage you to check out another one.

Twelve Blue may not have been as coherent as I remembered it, but it did remind me of the importance in the navigation of E-Lit, not everything is going to be straightforward and if it is, it’s closer to a proper e-book.

It also reminded me of just what I hope to get out of yet another semester of studying E-Lit; to better understand the composition of it and in doing so, bring a new appreciation of the collaboration of my two favorite forms of media together. I felt slightly rushed when I took this class back in 2014, but now I feel as if I can take my time with this, even if it’s just a little more than before. Being back feels good.

Twelve Blue: My First E-Lit Experience

After reading Jessica Pressman’s “Navigating Electronic Literature”, I was feeling a bit more confident about navigating E Lit on my own for the very first time. Boy, was I wrong! Opening up “Twelve Blue”, I was immediately overwhelmed by the deep, blue color, and even more thrown off by the light blue text. All this hypertext almost immediately gave me a headache. The next hour of my life was almost guaranteed to make me dizzy.

confused despicable me GIF

Navigating through the different links and reading the different stories wasn’t much more comforting at first. I found myself reading, and then re-reading these stories, wondering why I wasn’t connecting with the lexia on my screen.

Twelve Blue is….interesting. First off, the blue color gave me a feeling reminiscent of 90’s font colors, I’m not sure how my mind ended up there, but it did. The next thing I noticed was that the font sizes changed from link to link, the larger font in some of the stories made it a bit easier to read, the stories with smaller font, made me feel frustrated. I was turned off the by color and the font. The stories themselves were all very different, some more engaging than others.

Some stories have hypertext within the them, or towards the end, some of them don’t and you have to click on the lines on the left to navigate to the different readings. As I continued to read, I found that many of the stories lend the reader the opportunity to almost come up with the rest of the story on your own. None of these pieces feel finished, they are almost all missing a beginning and and end. This bothered me, so I had to use my imagination to piece the stories together on my own.

For my first experience, this was quite the challenge. Navigating through the hypertext was easy breezy but trying to connect to it, wasn’t. I am hoping that as I get more comfortable with this kind of literature, I will begin to enjoy it a bit more.

Until next week!

disney goodbye GIF

Twelve Blue: what kind of blue?

Pressman writes in her essay  “Navigating Electronic Literature” that navigation is a very strong characteristic of elit. One approach of navigation is hypertext.

Then I read Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce to experience hypertext on my own.

Capture 9

Every time I read it, it is different from the previous version. Different hyper links lead to different story lines and I never know where the hyper link is going to take me. On the left, there are twelve lines, sometimes go parallel, sometimes intersect. Every inch of the picture can be clicked and then you are in a different section. Sometimes the plot is consistent, sometimes it ends abruptly without any hyperlink on the page.

The color “blue” seems to be the core image of this work. The web page is blue, the words and phrases are blue, the word “blue” appears many times in the text. Also, blue plays an important role as emotion of the characters. Blue is sadness, or a mysterious impression, or a dim thought… I cannot tell which kind of blue the story tries to present. This work makes me feel dizzy and confused.

These stories take place in Canada but there are many exotic elements such as the Chinese poet Li Bo, a Portuguese lover, and the US. These stories are told in third person narrative in a peaceful tone, like memorizing some household things. Nevertheless, I can see harassment, murder, death, lust, unhealthy childhood, etc. Underneath the clear blue water is darkness.

The story also makes me think of one’s roles in life. A woman is a daughter, a mother, a wife, a lover, and a farmer. She can also be a murderer or lifesaver. One can have so many roles in one’s life but with great balance among them. Everything changes and evolves, like the myterious hyperlinks in the story. “He loved his wife once”, “her father died”, both divorce and death can cause the change of one’s roles. What are my roles in my life? I’m a woman, a daughter, a student, a helpful person, an indifferent person, a writer, a customer… Life is as complex as spider web but five hours ago I still thought life is simple.

“Life is hard as coal.” This is a quote from the story. Everyone in the story seems to be helpless and drifting in fate, regardless of their occupations. They seek for and enjoy themselves in little happiness that appears from time to time, like sparks burst on coal. This is what life feels like.


Hypertexts and Joyce’s Twelve Blue

    Twelve Blue is a very creative hypertext fiction by using hyperlinks. The hyperlink, as Pressman states, is a typical navigational structure in e-lit. “Navigating a hypertext is … about the structure and signification of literature itself” (Pressman). Joyce used navigations to develop his story. On each page, we can find the underline texts which link to the next page. When I clicked the hyperlink, I moved to a new character and learned her story. Sometimes, a picture would jump out. It seems to be pretty interesting to explore the e-lit.

     However, I was stuck as many other readers did when the first time I read the fiction. The homepage gave me an uncomfortable sense of aesthetics. Disappointingly, the background is dark blue and the font is light blue. The ambiguous color really bothers me. A confusing image is centered on the page. URLs are numbered at the bottom. I hoped to find an instruction which can tell me what I should do next. Becasue I was not sure if I should go with the number consecutively. Hence, I clicked “3” randomly. Then I found the hyperlinks are placed not only at the end but in the middle of texts. When I was reading the URLs, like “Abandon wasn’t in her heritage, she had had to grow into it”, I felt they may have special meanings, which direct me to more information. That is just like an adventure or an escape game. However, I was very perplexed with those implications and wanted to figure out the intention of the writer. It is said the navigation is not only how readers are involved but how they “produce and experience” them (Pressman), but I felt little engagement neither a great experience in the first e-lit reading. The navigations probably complex the whole structure of the fiction. In other words, readers are not easy to find a breathing for the first time.

    My second discovery of the hyperlinks is that when I returned to the former page, the URL vanished. It was very creepy because I found the whole texts were still complete when something is missing. Why did the writer design the disappearance? Does it have extra meanings for the fiction? To find the answers, I read Zachary Sheffler’s Blog. She had a very similar experience as me, but she figured out some reasons. She said, the 12 treads in the image on the first page, as well as the treads on the left pane, are presented as 12 characters or personalities. That was the connection she found. Additionally, “Each thread has two hyperlinks, one goes back and one advances the story” (Shellfer). I did not find the “back” and “forward”, but I discovered that the treads are changed a couple of times. Every time I clicked the treads on the left pane, they are removed and stretched to different directions. If those threads represent the different characters, as Shellfer suggested, then there should be somethings changeable on them. That idea force me to keep reading the fiction.

    Pressman said, the navigation is the key to reading electronic literature. The delicate hyperlinks attract me a lot, but they also took both my time and effort. But all in all, it is a quiet amazing reading practice. I will keep exploring  the Twelve Blue and wish to have new discoveries soon.

Work Cited

Electronic Literature: New Horizons For The Literary :: Essays. Accessed 16 Sept. 2018.

Joyce, “Twelve Blue” | Zachary Sheffler’s Blog. Accessed 16 Sept. 2018.

Twelve Blue: Michael Joyce. Accessed 17 Sept. 2018.