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victorian review • Volume 33 Number 1 24 Notes 1 This anxiety has been expressed at several conferences and in many publications. It was summarized by Jonathan Culler when, in 1997, he wrote:“Is cultural studies a capacious project within which literary studies gains new power and insight? Or will cultural studies swallow up literary studies and destroy literature?” (43). Works Cited Culler, Jonathan. LiteraryTheory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Landow, George Press. Hypertext:The Convergence of ContemporaryTheory andTechnology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Loizeaux, Elizabeth Bergmann, and Neil Fraistat, eds. ReimagingTextuality:Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002. Lubbock, Percy, ed. The Letters of Henry James. 2 vols. London and New York: Macmillan, 1920. Mitchell,W.J.T. PictureTheory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Ulmer, Gregory.“Response:Text Culture Grammatology.” ReimagingTextuality:Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print. Eds. Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux and Neil Fraistat. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002. 241–52. • Interdisciplinary Fluidity and the Refreshing Links of Hypermedia Den n is Den isoff • Recent developments in hypermedia have made it increasingly feasible to fulfill a key aim ofVictorianist interdisciplinary research—the linkage of disparate knowledge fields in order to foster holistic conceptions of historical realities.As specialists in interdisciplinary studies have acknowledged, however, this methodological intent can be idealistic or even risk valorizing a false scholarly omnipotence. JillVickers, for example, argues for a situational sensitivity to interdisciplinary endeavours (“Diversity”). Hypermedia can help Victorianists in this regard. One of the greatest potentials for interdisciplinary studies lies in hypermedia’s ability to assist us not only in conducting complex searches and comparisons but also in formulating fresh methodologies with which to explore the Victorian era while recognizing the artificiality of our analytical paradigms. “Hypermedia” refers to database systems and electronic publications in which multimedia texts are linked in ways that accommodate non-linear thought processes. Like interdisciplinarity, hypermedia establishes linkages among diverse phenomena. George P. Landow’s view of hypertext (which he uses as a synonym for hypermedia) relies, as does Vicker’s notion of interdisciplinarity , on the concept of linkage. Landow describes hypertext as“text composed of blocks of words (or images) linked electronically by multiple paths, chains, or trails in an open-ended, perpetually unfinished textuality” (3). Models of limitless networks of linkages can also be found, as Landow points 25 Special Forum: Victorian Studies and Interdisciplinarity out, in most structuralist and post-structuralist theories preceding hypermedia , including those of Mikhail Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault. Hypermedia, in this sense, embodies electronically the theoretical paradigms that have influenced much of contemporaryVictorianist scholarship. The image of an academic sitting at a sun-dappled oak desk with a mug of coffee and a sprawl of open books as she works alone to make insightful new connections has begun to seem something of an idyll. Hypermedia has made research feel more public both by connecting scholars to colleagues around the world on a daily basis and by giving far more users simultaneous access to the same historical materials. It has refashioned the image of the researcher as somebody wired into digital environments. Hypermedia not only increases the number of“books” one can have on one’s desk, it also enhances one’s ability to search for connections among texts and ideas using extensive, refined searches that previously would have cost far more time and energy. Of course,Victorianists were jumping from idea to idea and among disciplines in a non-linear fashion before the advent of hypermedia, even if their expertise was traditionally seen as more circumscribed and their technological aids were less quick to accommodate any sudden new lines of inquiry. Nevertheless, academic interdisciplinarity benefits from technology that rapidly collects, compares, and juxtaposes different sets of information and retains records of non-sequential linkages. As Vannevar Bush noted in his 1945 discussion of what he called the memex, a conceptual technology now seen as a key precursor of hypermedia, “selection by association, rather than indexing , may yet be mechanized. One cannot hope thus to equal the speed and flexibility with which the mind follows an associative trail, but it should be possible to beat...


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