Fun da mentals : Rhetorical Devices for Electronic Literature

Fun da mentals: The Spaces Between Us:  Spatial placement and meaning

Experiment: On Your Own

Exchange: Share Your Creations

Student works {None yet} Share your work


As in concrete or visual poetry, electronic literature uses the placement of words on a page to provide another layer of meaning to the work. These placements can indicate relationships (causal, associative, hierarchical, set, distance, etc.).


The visual structure can act as the grammatical structure.

Words can appear in different places.

Titles of nodes can be arranged in a particular order. Thus, not only does the word itself gain meaning from its relative position in a schema, but the node also gains this attention.

Exercise: The Spaces Between Us

Create a work from these word sets that place the words in an order. You might use flash and have the words appear one after another. Or you might place all of the words in several different orders and link between the sets to see how the meaning changes when the words are placed differently. You could have the words spread out from each other --click on one word and another appears. You could use a Venn diagram, a set of arrows, or ?

Empathy: {lives, precarious paths, ancient footholds, ancestor shrines, sandalwood incense, familiar shadows, silences, sun light, moon light, star light, shadows, sighing, }

Reality: {mine fields, undergrowth, acid rain, broken glass, conversations, blood stains, water, oil, food, unsustainable, nonrenewable, an abandoned shoe}

Understanding: {children, deer, branches, a bat's cry, a cat in the windowsill, an unopened rose, an open door, cherry blossoms, ripe fields, wind, sun, ocean, sky}

Between: {quarks, up, down, charm, strange, top, bottom, antiquarks, diffraction, particle, energy, waves, black holes, expanding universes, gravity, time}

Experiment: On Your Own

  1. Choose a poem or short story (this can be your own work or someone else's)
  2. Make two copies of this text.
  3. Choose images that go along with the text as backgrounds. You will need two of the same image.
  4. Choose sounds that go along with the text
  5. Cut the text into chunks (this can be words, sentences, phrases, verses, paragraphs). You can cut the two copies differently (for example, in the first version you could cut the sentence "There was silence afterwards" into "There was silence" and "afterwards" and in the second version you could cut the sentence into "There was" and "silence afterwards.")
  6. Arrange the texts in the first version on a poster board.
  7. Use images as backgrounds (copy the text onto a transparency and place the text on top of the image)
  8. Use images as foregrounds (paste the text under the image so that the reader can lift the image to see the text)
  9. Play sounds which correlate to a text or image.
  10. Rearrange the texts, images, and correlated sounds in the second version on a new posterboard.

Team sports

  1. Choose a central topic and write that topic (either a word or a sentence or a phrase) in the middle of a posterboard.
  2. Write out 3 words for each player (so if there are 3 players, each person writes 9 words). (If there are more than 10 players, then write 2 words for each player).
  3. Take turns around the posterboard. There will be one more turn than you have words. (So if there are 3 players, you will take 10 turns.) During each turn, you can either :
    This way, everyone has an opportunity to place their words and everyone must move at least one word.

Exchange: Share Your Creations

Share your work in person

Flash exercises
Try Jason Nelson's reDimensional Cube and WithinSpace textual as Flash experiments. The reDimensional cube provides a Rubik's cube that you can twist in all directions. The WithinSpace provides a three-dimensional space of boxes and lines connecting these boxes. You can try the samples and download the Flash. Jason Nelson also includes a commentary on these in English. You can work without the commentary, but note that you either have to be familiar with Flash or work with someone who is.

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