ENSP 482, Midterm Exam

General Instructions: Save your work often during the course of this exam. I recommend that you write the exam in a simple text editor on the classroom PC, such as Write (the Windows Notepad may not allow you to write as much as you need to in one document). To run Write, open the file manager, pull down the file menu, select "run" and type "write" in the dialogue window. Periodically during the exam, pull down the file menu in Write and choose "save"; when you're done with the exam, pull down the file menu, choose "save as" and in the bottom left of the "save as" dialogue window, choose to save as file type "text files". Note the directory to which your file is going to be written, so you can find it again. If you use unix mail, upload the file to your unix account and mail it to me, jmu2m@virginia.edu. If you use PCmail, start PCmail on the lab machine and mail me the exam. If you have a diskette and would prefer simply to hand it to me on that, that's fine too. And last but not least, if you finish early you may elect to print out your exam and hand it in that way.

Please number your answers (I.1, I.2, II.1, II.2, etc.) so I will be sure to know what answer goes with what question. The exam is timed to take ten minutes less than the class period, in order to give you time for a break. You are welcome to consult any notes, readings, psychics, or other aids to memory and reflection--however, please don't talk to one another during the exam. I don't recommend spending your time browsing notes or readings during the first part of the exam, because you need to answer those ten (or eleven) questions in twenty minutes.

I. Short Answers:

Don't spend more than a minute or two on each of these--either you know or you don't. 2 points apiece: answer at least the first ten.

  1. Please give a one-sentence definition of hypertext.

  2. What does H.T.M.L. stand for?

  3. What does S.G.M.L. stand for?

  4. What is Xanadu and who developed it?

  5. What do an alligator in the surf, a deer, and a dying woman have in common?

  6. When was the "Memex" imagined, and by whom?

  7. When was the World-Wide Web proposed, and by whom?

  8. When was the word "hypertext" coined, and by whom?

  9. In which of our readings is the distinction made between exploratory and constructive hypertexts? Briefly, what's the difference?

  10. Give one example of the non-linear tradition in English literature before hypertext. Your example should not appear in the Electronic Labyrinth's list. Briefly explain your choice.

    extra credit:

  11. What is the full name of the oldest surviving printed book in the western world, and when was it printed?

II. Essay questions:

20 points apiece: answer any four. You should not spend more than half an hour in answering any of these questions. Good things: specific reference to any of the course reading, or to reading you have done on your own; imaginative extrapolation from the question asked to other, more interesting questions you would like to answer; good writing; clear thinking. Bad things: vague references, gestural generalities, factual error, unexamined assumptions.

  1. In the "Phaedrus," Socrates says:
          I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is 
          unfortunately like painting; for the creations of 
          the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if 
          you ask them a question they preserve a solemn 
          silence.  And the same may be said of speeches.
    Please explain Socrates' analogy, and please explain why this analogy is relevant to our discussions in this class.

  2. Michael Heim has said, "Hypertext has nothing to do with computers." Please agree or disagree with this assertion. (NB: I can imagine interesting answers in either category.)

  3. What do you think are the major unsolved problems of hypertext, as it now exists? What are the shortcomings of the Web, and what problems can you identify that are independent of the Web, but inherent in hypertext?

  4. Is hypertext readerly or writerly, in Barthes' terms? To what extent? Why? Why not?

  5. In Feed Magazine's dialogue "From Page to Pixel," the four speakers fall into two camps. Please identify those camps and their adherents in the discussion, and then argue one of the two positions, responding to several specific arguments of the opposing position.

  6. The Electronic Labyrinth gives five opening gambits for hypertext authors, and it cites Landow's six types of overviews as well. Propose at least one more way of structuring a hypertext--a way not implied or contained in these other two lists--and explain how it might work. Your proposal(s) need not be constrained by current technology.

  7. What kinds of writing are particularly well suited to hypertext presentation, and what kinds are poorly suited to it? Explain...

  8. Please forge as many links as you can between Stuart Moulthrop's "principle of resistance" and Kathleen Burnett's notion of hypertext as rhizomorphic.

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Last Modified: Monday, 20-Oct-2008 16:02:58 EDT