Unless one accepts the HTML
essay or extralinear essay as the model for
the research essay as hypertexta position to which even theorists of hypertext
writing seem to default as they write about hypertextthe research essay as
hypertext will involve considerably more work than
the print research essay.
At my institution (and many others), most
students must complete a research writing course in order to graduate. And a fairly
sizable number of students want to learn how to author web pages. These factors
suggest that many students may have a real interest in hypertext research writing.
For a year, our writing program attempted to bring the research writing requirement
together with student interest in web building. While we were able to generate
student interest in an experimental approach to the research essay, we were limited
by students' legitimate concern
that they must accumulate credits if they are to earn a bachelor's degree. Put
bluntly, the extra work of a multilinear hypertext essay exceeds the boundaries
of a 3-credit course.
We have been unprepared to make the case for additional
course credit due to the uncertain status of the hypertext research essay. The
HTML essay and extralinear
essay do not merit extra course credit. Janangelo's students' hypertexts would
not help build the case since, in his estimation, they "indulge in the casual
accumulation and juxtaposition of readymade materials" (40). In the absence
of clear examples of trailblazing hypertext research writing, we have been unwilling
to make a case for more course credit.
The examples necessary to generate
interest in credit bearing research writing courses that put hypertext at the
center of the writing would bring together new
media, multilinearity, and the kind of significant
analysis that is standard for a research essay.
Putting these elements
together in student hypertext authorship and supporting it with appropriate credit
would begin to institutionalize features of several models of alternative research
writing that Davis and Shadle identify, in particular the research
argument (427-429) and the multi-paper
With hard work, and exceptional students, we are starting
to see hypertext projects of this sort. So far, Reinhardt's "Camouflaged
Corruption" is our most promising project. But we have decided to rethink
the institutional limitations on student motivation and link two courses (research
writing and web authoring) to offer six credits in an effort to explore and encourage
hypertext research writing.