Reading Network Fiction

Reading Network Fiction

by David Ciccoricco

Hardcover(1st Edition)

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The marriage of narrative and the computer dates back to the 1980s, with the hypertext experiments of luminaries such as Judy Malloy and Michael Joyce. What has been variously called "hypertext fiction," "literary hypertext," and "hyperfiction" has surely surrendered any claim to newness in the 21st century.
David Ciccoricco establishes the category of "network fiction" as distinguishable from other forms of hypertext and cybertext: network fictions are narrative texts in digitally networked environments that make use of hypertext technology in order to create emergent and recombinant narratives. Though they both pre-date and post-date the World Wide Web, they share with it an aesthetic drive that exploits the networking potential of digital composition and foregrounds notions of narrative recurrence and return.
Ciccoricco analyzes innovative developments in network fiction from first-generation writers Michael Joyce (Twilight, a symphony, 1997) and Stuart Moulthrop (Victory Garden, 1991) through Judd Morrissey’s The Jew's Daughter (2000), an acclaimed example of digital literature in its latter instantiations on the Web. Each investigation demonstrates not only what the digital environment might mean for narrative theory but also the ability of network fictions to sustain a mode of reading that might, arguably, be called "literary." The movement in the arts away from representation and toward simulation, away from the dynamics of reading and interpretation and toward the dynamics of interaction and play, has indeed led to exaggerated or alarmist claims of the endangerment of the literary arts. At the same time, some have simply doubted that the conceptual and discursive intricacy of print fiction can migrate to new media. Against these claims, Reading Network Fiction attests to the verbal complexity and conceptual depth of a body of writing created for the surface of the screen.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817315894
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 11/25/2007
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David Ciccoricco teaches in the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Read an Excerpt

Here and There in Mexico

The Travel Writings of Mary Ashley Townsend

By Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

The University of Alabama Press

Copyright © 2001 University of Alabama Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8009-0


General Remarks Concerning Mexico

A few answers to many questions. General remarks concerning Mexico; its area, topography, climate, flora, fauna, soil and productions. Situations of the hot lands (tierras calientes), of the temperate regions (tierras templadas), and of the cold lands (tierras frias). Hints about starting for Mexico. Money matters. Weight of luggage allowed each passenger. Customs Officers. Duties for every state. Diligence rates. The kind of clothing required. The kind of weather to be expected. Temperature of the City of Mexico. Pulmonary complaints in that locality. Medical attendance. Oaxaca and its superior advantages for all lung diseases. Ignorance of the Spanish language not a serious impediment to the journey. Politeness of the Mexicans. Their willingness to welcome and advance American enterprise. Some of the characteristics of the men [and] of the women. The land of tomorrow. The climatic influences which make it so. The readiness with which a foreigner falls under the spell. The form of government. The Constitution. How the Supreme governmental powers are vested. Mexican suffragists. The ballot box. The locomotive as a peace maker.

Probably no other country on the face of the globe presents, within the same territorial limits, such a variety of soil, climate, agricultural and mineral wealth as our noble Sister Republic. Much as its original boundaries have contracted, it still covers a magnificent area; equal in extent to that of the United Kingdom, and France, Spain and Portugal put together. It has the productions of every clime, and the climates of every zone. It is nature's "Horn of Plenty" filled with precious metals, rich gems, priceless minerals and exhaustless quarries. Its soil is capable of producing anything that can be raised elsewhere on the earth, and these products are swift of growth and bountiful of harvests. Its flora and fauna are marvelously rich and varied, its fruits delicious and of endless variety. No other country seems so perfectly adapted for self sustenance. If completely severed from all outside intercourse, Mexico would scarcely miss the rest of the world, so richly capable is it at supplying all the wants of its people from its own unlimited resources. A Mexican can find any grade of temperature, the most diverse and magnificent scenery, an almost boundless choice of the earth's products, without crossing the boundaries of his own land. He needs not to go to the Pyrenees for mountain scenery, nor to Italy for sunny vales; nor to the south of France for general climes, nor to the Alps for peaks of perpetual snow. The sea upon his right-hand and his left, matchless mountains are always with him, and the exquisite valleys open on every side to provide their feasts of beauty and abundances. Is he a scientist? From her buried cities to her loftiest hill tops, his country offers him unequaled range of study. Is he poet or romanticist? Her diversity of races, her history and her legends afford him inexhaustible sources of inspiration. Is he a painter? The whole land is full of pictures for him. Is he an agriculturist? All that he can desire in the way of climate and of soil are there, and he may drive the plough where neither winter's cold nor summer's heat afflicts, and sow his seed where unending spring makes the land as fair as Calypso's fabled isle.

The highlands are admirably adapted to the cultivation of wheat, barley, corn and oats. The latter grain is scarcely, if at all, cultivated. I do not remember to have seen an oatfield in the country, other products deriving as a thoroughly satisfactory substitute. Strawberries there is no lack of in this region; the markets in the City of Mexico are provided with them all the year.

The temperate regions produce an infinite variety of fruits, flowers and vegetables, besides coffee and cane, while the hot lands unite the rich productions of the temperate domain to innumerable tropical products of incomputable value, and a marvelous prodigal vegetable growth which lends to the land both grace and color.

Some of the misapprehension which exists regarding Mexico climatically is occasioned by the fact that those who speak of it forget to state that the Republic and its Capital both bear the same name. Thus, they say Mexico is excessively hot, Mexico is extremely cold, Mexico is neither hot nor cold; Mexico is superlatively beautiful, Mexico is arid as a desert. Contradictory as these statements appear they are all true as, in the area of about eight hundred thousand square miles which the territory of Mexico comprises, all of these features may be found due, principally, to its peculiar configuration conceded to be the most remarkable of any country in the known world. There are regions which are hot with torrid heat, others which are cold. There are regions which, deprived of rains and rivers, are dry and productive of but thorny and fibrous plants; where dust abounds, and the landscape is uninteresting. In other localities rain is abundant, vegetation rich, and the scenery beautifully picturesque. But the City of Mexico and the lovely valley in which it is located, points which the generality of travelers to that country desire to visit first, and then tarry in longest, are of a uniformly delightful climate at all times of the year, scarcely any warmer in summer than in winter and never cold enough for a fire at any season.

If one will call to mind the topography of Mexico he will remember that it lies, not unlike in shape to a huge cornucopia, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Its northern edge is ribboned by the Río Grande, and its southern limit is the peninsula of Yucatan. The Gulf laves its eastern border, the Pacific bathes its western coast and the shore of its most southern states. Its magnificent mountain system is apparently a continuation of the Cordillera of the Andes which, after marching the entire length of South America enters Mexico on the extreme south and there bunches itself, so to speak, for a race across the continent. There it divides into two branches which diverge eastward and westward, though maintaining their general direction toward the north, following the coast -line on each shore of the Republic. The eastern range sinks into lowlands and is lost as it approaches the Gulf near the northeastern boundary, but the western branch continues its course, crossing the most northern limits of Mexico into the United States.

Between these diverging mountain chains is supported an immense extent of elevated table land, varying from seven to eight thousand feet above the sea level and not unlike in outline to a gigantic letter V. This plateau is intersected by lofty peaks, spurs, and ranges of lesser hills, but stretched away toward the north for a distance of more than fourteen hundred miles, widening always as it extends, and giving a natural roadway for the entire distance.

Its geographical position places a great portion of Mexico within the torrid zone in latitudes one associates with the splendid flowers and foliage, the precious gems and regal products and burning skies of the tropics. But, such is its extraordinary geological construction, such the wonderful upheaval of its grand mountain chains and vast central table lands, that the effect of its situation is counteracted by the regions of rarified atmosphere into which it is lifted. Its low coasts on either shore are perpetually washed by the salt seas which it separates. For the most part these lie within the tropics exposed to intense heat and producing all that marvelous bounty of animal and vegetable life peculiar to such latitudes.

A short distance back from the shore, however, the land begins to rise; the heat diminishes as the ascent increases, and such is the grade going west, from tropically hot Vera Cruz, that within a distance of 269 miles or a day's journey by rail, the City of Mexico is found at a height of 7,500 feet above sea level in a climate deliciously cool and equable the year through. In making this ascent from the sea, one enjoys not only variety of climate, but he has the opportunity to observe that entire range of vegetation which attends him from the sea to the summit. He passes from the tierras calientes or hot lands, to the tierras templadas or cool lands, and from the latter to the tierras frias or cold lands. Even in many portions of the latter, snow or frost are almost unknown. The tierras frias are those lands comprised within an elevation greater than 6,500 feet. The tierra templada or temperate region lies at a height of from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, and the tierra caliente or hot district, comprises the low lands on each coast, and all those portions which do not rise to a greater height than 2,000 feet above the sea. It is a land replete with enticement and enchantment for the mere travelers, and for one bent upon more serious pursuits, its future seems so bright, so promising that the grave political stumbling blocks to her progress, which still exist, are scarcely sufficient to deter him from uniting his destinies with hers.

When one is about to start for Mexico from the United States, he will find it to his advantage to provide himself with a supply of Mexican dollars to defray current expenses for the first portion of his trip. These he can buy, at this time, for greenbacks at sixteen percent discount. He should also carry with him, to cash when required, drafts on New York, which now command in our Sister Republic from twelve to fifteen per cent premium. He will spare himself annoyance by looking at tariff rates before packing his trunks, as his luggage will undergo rigorous scrutiny by the customs officers at whatever point he may enter the country, and also, as he passes out of one Mexican State into another. He should also bear in mind that luggage goes by weight in Mexico, the railways allowing sixty pounds to each passenger, and charging a trifle less than five cents for every extra pound. The diligences allow but twenty-five pounds, and charge more in proportion than the railways for any amount of weight exceeding this limit. The quality of clothing to be taken depends upon what part of Mexico one intends to visit. For the coast lands which for the most part are hot, summer wear. Thin woolens, etc. are needed. Penetrating the interior from the coasts, or from the Texan border, such clothing is needed as one wears in early spring or late autumn in the United States. A light wrap or overcoat for the daytime, and extra wraps and rugs for night travel should be taken. These necessities must be provided for the high table land and for the City of Mexico which, owing to its elevation above the level of the sea, as I have already said, has very nearly the same temperature both winter and summer; the mercury rarely rising above 70° nor falling below 62°.

In different parts of the country can be found any degree of Fahrenheit desired; but in the city, and on the upper table lands, an even temperature exists all the year around, and but two seasons are talked of — the wet and the dry. The rainy season begins about the middle of May and continues until October. It ordinarily consists of a rain fall beginning about the same hour, and lasting about the same length of time, every day. After this shower the sky clears. The sun shines. The streets dry rapidly and pleasure and business resume their regular routine. As the rain may be expected near the middle of the day and never disappoints, and as it may be counted upon for ceasing early in the afternoon, the Grand Paseo, which is the principal drive, and other points for fashionable gatherings, lose none of their afternoon brightness and attraction during the wet season. Meanwhile, vegetation flourishes so luxuriantly under the benign moisture that the whole land becomes glorified by the increase of verdure and grace and beauty.

Upon the country roads the wet season works some mischief which does not much affect city streets and railways. The highways then become almost impassible. Even the diligence travel, which is over the best made roads in the country, is difficult, and often seriously interrupted. The transportation of heavy machinery or any weighty merchandise, where railway conveyance does not exist, becomes almost impossible. The slippery mud and watery holes prove too much for even the proverbial patience of the donkey, and in no country is it more necessary to make hay while the sun shines than in Mexico. During the rainy weather, fevers, such as thrive on dampness and rapid increase of vegetation, prevail to a greater or lesser extent on the table lands, though never attaining a virulent nor an epidemic type.

The dry season, extending from October until May, is one of sunshine and out of door delight. The dust is then the chief drawback to travel, but that annoyance is neutralized by the beautiful scenery, the peculiar blue skies and the clear atmosphere. The climate of the City of Mexico is regarded by many as especially favorable to persons suffering from pulmonary complaints. The open air life to which the temperature invites has something to do with creating this impression, but it is a false one. It is not the proper place for a consumptive to seek relief or cure in; there being certain properties in the atmosphere which tend to aggravate rather than heal lung diseases. There is, however, always this advantage for the visitor to the City of Mexico who does not find it agrees with his health. He can reach any climate he desires from that point in a very short space of time, and by means of a railway or other chosen conveyance adopt the temperature to his case with as much ease as he could warm or cool the water in his bath. Should illness assail, as excellent medical attendance can be obtained there as elsewhere and the Mexican physician possesses the advantage of having any desired climate close at hand to act as a potent adjunct to his skill.

For all pulmonary diseases, it has been acknowledged, by many men prominent in the medical faculty, that Oaxaca combines more positive advantages than any other state in the Republic. Its climate is as near perfection as can be found in the world, excellent food is easily obtained, luscious fruits abound, the air invigorates, the scenery delights, historical vicinities keep the interest awake and enlivened, while the people are noted for hospitality and kindness. The superiority of this locality over others has been tested with such satisfactory results that the establishment of sanatoriums for consumption, in or near the city of Oaxaca, has been seriously considered by eminent physicians in the southern United States. Oaxaca at this writing can be reached by a branch road, a portion of which is a tramway leading southeast from the Vera Cruz and Mexican railroad at the station of Apizuco. It is also accessible from the Pacific coast, and from its high table lands both the Gulf and the Ocean, between the blue water of which it lies, are plainly discernible.

No one need deprive himself of the pleasure and benefit of a trip to Mexico from a dread that ignorance of the Spanish language would seriously mar enjoyment or comfort. English is spoken by railway officials and in many hotels, and of late years has been very generally studied by the better classes. The Mexicans are naturally linguists, and toward students of their own tongue they are unfailingly courteous and helpful. French is widely spoken throughout the country, and the language of politeness is practiced by all, high and low, throughout the land; a language which is understood by instinct whether the individual to whom it is addressed is accustomed to use it or not.

Indeed, courtesy in the true sense of the word is a characteristic of the nation, and nowhere has a stranger to fear a rudeness or a departure from the rules of high breeding less than in Mexico. From my own observations and the experiences of personal friends, I am led to conclude that the distrust and jealousy with which Mexicans are supposed to regard Americans and American enterprises amongst them, does not exist. It may have at one time gained a footing in Mexico, the natural product of political prejudice, but it is a thing of the past. The Mexicans welcome and encourage enterprise, and rejoice at whatever tends to the welfare of the country, the development of her resources, and the consequent benefit of her people. There are instances in which foreigners who thought to take advantage of Mexicans in business matters have been surprised at their sagacity and intelligence and unwillingness to be imposed upon, and, disappointed in their schemes, have sought to establish for the Mexicans a reputation for suspicion, ill humor and any other quality into which business capacity, discernment and capability for self-defense can be construed. Approached with fairness, they are always as ready for fair dealing as any people on the face of the earth. They are hospitable in the extreme and generous to a fault. The men are intelligent, warm hearted and brave; the women bright, modest, devoted to home and possessed of a most winning sweetness of manner.


Excerpted from Here and There in Mexico by Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.. Copyright © 2001 University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of The University of Alabama Press.
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Table of Contents


Editor's Preface,
1. General Remarks Concerning Mexico,
2. Existing Routes to Mexico by Sea and Land,
3. Down the Mississippi from New Orleans,
4. Across the Gulf to Tampico,
5. Tuxpán to Vera Cruz,
6. Vera Cruz,
7. A Trip to Jalapa,
8. Fort San Juan de Ulúa and Departure from Vera Cruz,
9. Córdoba,
10. Orizaba,
11. Scenes around Orizaba,
12. Puebla and Cholula,
13. Mexico City,
14. Bull Fight,
15. Scenes around Mexico City,
16. Mexico City's Major Attractions,
17. Life, Dress, and Customs in the Mexican Capital,
18. Family Life in Mexico,
19. Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Chapultepec Castle, and More,

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