Brooks, Kevin. “Reading, Writing, and Teaching Creative Hypertext: A Genre-Baed Pedagogy.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 2.3 (2002): 337-356

Kevin Brooks explores the use of hypertext. He says students read on-line and engage in digital text, including as Micheal Joyce states, television. Students are engaged in these mediums and know them, so we should teach web-writing and hypertext, a pedagogy of “electronic rhetoric.” We need to teach students to go beyond consuming “screen culture” and become producers of it.

Brooks’ essay wants to put forth strategies for teachers to teach genre-based web-writing. This writing requires students to make rhetorical choices about form, composition, and traditional story elements.

Brooks looks at the history of genre-based and hypertext theories. Earlier work opened up pedagogy but provided no models for enactment. Brooks states that “The structure of a hypertext has been deemed more central to its function or success than its generic affiliations, but it seems to me that separating structure from generic affiliation is a formalist, arhetorical pedagogical move” (341).

Many theorist have argued that genre-theory applied to reading text, including internet text, is useful but none have provided clear models. Genres are familiar starting points to use with students. Brooks claims that his students equate “creative hypertext” with the choose-your-own-adventure and build from there. Some students might not be familiar with the computer technology or programs but will be familiar with genre conventions. Brooks goes on to outline his model:

  • Students should understand all texts are rooted in genre, and they need to read hypertext and print examples to familiarize themselves with the genre. Students should understand the print sources that hypertext emerge from.
  • Students should “choose genres that will meet their communicative needs” (344). Brooks picks a flexible genre (autobiography) and broad categories (popular culture).
  • Students should be encouraged to challenge and play and reinvent these genres.

Brooks notes how writing pedagogy has already used these strategies—now, we need to apply them to hypertext and genres.

He looks at Activity Theory that states we learn new things by using old knowledge. In writing, writers must respond to other text and choose their medium (pen and paper, computer, etc.). Brooks has rethought the hypertext to include non-electronic forms. [[These strategies speak to Roland Barthes’ autobiography, as well as fiction text by Jonathan Safran Foer, and The Principles of Uncertainty.

Brooks uses the autobiography and popular culture genre; the latter includes working in collaboration. Assignments ask students to keep in mind their print predecessors in order to understand the genre but should challenge and play with those genres. (Good examples: Shelly Jackson’s My Body

Brooks proscribes four aspects to keep in mind to tighten up hypertext pedagogy:

1-This technique is good for teaching literature

2-Over the research, we should allow students to make their own rhetorical choices and not limit them because of what the research says

3-Assign familiar genres

4-The door is open for more research.


These are some great ideas; I am lucky that USF has taught me to implement many of these ideas in composition already. The idea of remediating a text helps students contemplate their rhetorical choices, and once they begin to think about their own rhetorical choices, they begin to think critically about the rhetorical choices made in the work they are reading. For every major project our students complete, they have to remediate their argument into an alternative (hypertext), whether a web-page, a yoututbe video, or a blog. I would like to take this idea a step further and have the final project be a multiple genre assignment.

I would love to use these techniques and ideas to teach a theory course. Brooks idea to have students create an autobiography, I think, will translate well into teaching Roland Barthes in the same manner as in composition class. Once students begin to think about the techniques and are forced to articulate their choices, they begin to learn the material better. I would also like to teach the postmodern novel again– this time, I would have less text and have the final revolve around the students creating their own “postmodern novel.”


The grad life is well under way. This week has been rough. I have been going to orientation/new teacher training all week from 9am-5-ish. Nothing new there; it was all the stuff I expected it to be. We got the break down on the major project we are going to be teaching with lots of helpful sample schedules, advice, writing prompts, in-class activities, etc. Today, I was able to finish all my syllabi, work out my project one schedule, and set up my rosters and most of my blackboard stuff. I am looking forward to the challenge of teaching these new essays.

I am worried it will be a disaster. I have the students reading some essays on the shifting perspective of histories. The idea is to get them thinking about how history is an event to be interpreted. I also have them reading a couple of feminist/women’s rights article because I want them thinking about how the culture, society (that is, how history) changes in a specific event. I haven’t worked out all the details, but the idea is that for the next essay, they are going to look at two ads from different time periods and explain how the context of the ads affects the rhetorical choices the ad makes. We’ll see how that all turns out. I am happy that I got a really helpful mentor and that all the other mentors are approachable and helpful as well. I don’t think teaching here will be a problem.

What does have me worried is that the theory people (that the mentor’s mentioned) sounds like they aren’t really all that approachable, “Not a people person” was the term I believe they used. This could be a problem since theory is so hard to understand that having someone to go to and think out problems always helps. At least I have my old theory professor who is really really approachable and awsome

I digress, after yesterdays session, a bunch of people went over to a bar down the street from campus. I got to talk with some colleagues, drink some beers, and eat some pretty good wings. Everyone seems really friendly and nice (but they always do at the beginning.

I am a little anxious about the whole thing, but I always am. When the semester starts, you always have all these high hopes and you want to do all these things with your class, but there is only so much time to do it all. And there is all the work and readings you have to do for your own classes– it is hard to fit it all in.

The last couple of days I have been watching (in the background as I cook, eat, get ready for the day) Examined Life, but more on that later…