[Click upon picture to obtain a full-size image (approximately twelve inches wide).]

In this second example from the Storyspace version of theVictorian Web, a reader has used its chief overview, which appears at screen left, to obtain another for Elizabeth Gaskell's industrial novel, North and South, and then begun to explore student-created materials available under the heading "Political & Social Context." Of the nine essays linked to this heading, three appear open here. Although Wendy Vaughan's comparison of the way Jane Eyre and North and South treat social class takes the form of literary analysis, those by Eliza Brownell and Ellen Geroux (which they created for a different assignment) present the results of historical research in the university's Special Collections. Several points about this example demand notice, the first of which is that, when used as a writing environment, hypertext permits student authors both to make individual contributions and yet inevitably collaborate with one another. Second, hypertext produces a group-created document in which students work collaboratively with faculty authors as well as with other students. Third, hypertext linking, which encourages cross-disciplinary lines, also encourages students to integrate subjects being studied in different courses and different disciplines. Fourth, as the body of materials on the political and social context of this novel reveal, multi-author hypertext encourages and almost demands that readers encounter differing approaches to whatever issue or topic is under consideration; in this case, the student researchers — all in the first-term of their undergraduate education-- reproduce much of the contemporary Victorian debate about the causes and solutions of unrest among factory workers by quoting at length from the periodical press that Newman so disliked. A final fact about hypertext that is not obvious in this example involves the way it produces a course or community memory. Long after they have completed this course, these student authors remain part of it as later classes continue to read and debate their contributions.

[WWW readers might like to examine the html versions of these materials on Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.]

Last modified 18 October 2005