Howard’s Idea and the Idea of Hypertext

Howard’s Idea and the Idea of Hypertext

Yager, Susan

Medieval Forum Vol.6 (2007)

Donald Howard’s 1976 book, The Idea of the Canterbury Tales, has been highly influential despite its initial mixed reviews. Howard’s complex ideas about the Canterbury Tales, and the metaphors he used which sometimes bothered his reviewers, can be better understood if we read Howard through the lens of hypertext theory. Howard’s ideas about associative thinking, about the Tales as a performance and a nonlinear memory, and about the book as technology all parallel arguments made about hypertext. Although Howard’s ideas are not entirely congruent with those of hypertext theorists, his book is worth re-reading in that light, especially for teachers of information-savvy students.

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