The Progressive Dinner Party Restored

"Believe" by Diane Caney

“What did it feel like to be a female academic writer trying to write a thesis while almost every aspect of her life was falling apart ...? And how could she ever have come to believe in God?” -Believe

About the Work
Diane created Believe to function both as a website and a novel. Diane stated that the work was meant to circulate ideas regarding isolation and despair, while also attempting to achieve peace or bliss in some form. She wanted to weave together fifteen short stories and poems that would create a non-linear narrative, which she achieved by using writing and website construction techniques. And though these stories are being written by her fictional character Theodora Free, some aspects of Diane’s life can be found within it. She wished to invite the reader to "Write yourself, backwards and forwards, until it makes sense." (Believe)

The work is structured in a way that allows exploration in any direction. When entering the site, the user is presented with a cluster of text and images, each object containing a link to a different page. As they explore the work, they learn who Theodora is and how various events shaped her life.

Diane began the project during a trAce writer’s workshop in 1999 run by Christy Sheffield Sanford. But in 2011-2012, she revised several of the poems while being the resident poet at CHADO. As she wrote in the website’s description, the novel is still evolving, and as time passes new perspectives are gained.

About the Author
Diane has a PhD in English and has published in journals such as Riding the Meridian, trAce, and Resoundings. Most of her creative works involve various forms of hypertext, ranging from simple texts and links to combining animation and imagery. Despite these differences, most of her works focus on pushing the boundaries of poetry, exploring theories, and experimenting with storytelling. Over time, she has gained experience with writing and information design.

This is the first page visitors are taken to. In the center is an image of a swing, which is surrounded by text. Each of these objects can be clicked on, which will link the user to another page.
This is a screenshot of one chapter within the work. Despite being a website, the work resembles a novel.
Diane Caney blended short poems and stories together to create a non-linear autobiography. This is one of the poems within her work.
Occasionally, users are taken to an image placed on a black screen. Though Diane Caney wanted to explore peace and hope, she also wanted to blend it with themes of isolation and despair.
Links to the work
"Believe" has been recorded in Rhizome's webrecorder. Additionally, it has been crawled by the Wayback Machine. A link to Caney's plate in The Progressive Dinner Party is also provided below.

View "Believe" in the Webrecorder
View the web archive link
View Plate

Caney, Diane. “About.” Believe. 1999, Accessed 6 July 2019.
Caney, Diane. “About.” 1998, Accessed 6 July 2019.
Caney, Diane. “Begin.” Believe. 1999, Accessed 6 July 2019.
Caney, Diane. “Believing.” Believe. 1999, Accessed 6 July 2019.
Caney, Diane. “Curriculum Vitae.” 1998, Accessed 6 July 2019.
Caney, Diane. “Publications.” 1998, Accessed 6 July 2019.
“trAce Workshop Members, Spring, 1999.” Accessed 6 July 2019.

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