Rebooting Electronic Literature Volume 3: Documenting Pre-Web Born Digital Media

Reader Traversals of Stuart Moulthrop's "Victory Garden"

With 993 nodes and 2804 links, Victory Garden is a hypertext novel of epic proportions. Like all works of this genre, it offers readers multiple reading paths––in this case 37 possible ways. For that reason the Pathfinders methodology requires the documentation of multiple readers engaging in a Traversal in order to provide future audiences of the work with an understanding of their multilinearity––and size. It is also suggested that the Readers have various experiences and training in computers and interactive media in order to allow for diverse reactions and engagement with the works.

Performing the Traversal for Victory Garden are Patrick Kutkey and Sean Philbrook. Kutkey, who taught Computer Technology at Pacific Middle School at the Evergreen School District, came to the work with a good understanding of digital technology though he had no previous experience with hypertext literature. Philbook, a student at Washington State University Vancouver pursuing a B. A. in Public Affairs, had a background in interactive games and had previously participated in events offered by the lab. 


Reader Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, by Pat Kutkey

Pat Kutkey experiments with ways to navigate the environment of Victory Garden, such as hitting the return key, utilizing what are known as the "TinkerBell" keys, and clicking the book icon to identify hyperlinks. Kutkey decides to follow the linear progression of the work to its conclusion. He notes how the narrative becomes "dreamlike" towards the end due to its jumbled texts, in contrast to the otherwise clear story he had been following up until that point.

Reader Traversal of Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden, by Sean Philbrook

Sean Philbrook summarizes his Traversal of Victory Garden, highlighting the structure of the hypertext. For instance, the hypertext contains several recurring characters whose lives intersect throughout the narrative. There are also several variations of key story elements, such as the different versions of a letter written by a scientist to Emily.

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