To say that the “digital age” has changed the way historians go about their work, from researching and writing to publishing, is an understatement. With changes in how historians go about their work, it is no surprise that the Internet also has had an impact on what they can produce. In this paper, I will explore the possibilities for historical expression utilizing hypertextuality as an alternative to the current historical narrative as defined by Hayden White. Hypertextuality, the manifestation of Vannevar Bush’s memex, has begun to be embraced by some in the discipline as a method of conveying non-linear narratives and encouraging readers to curate their own understandings of the material. Through a comparison between a website created by historians at the University of Victoria and the postmodern history book Walking Since Daybreak by Modris Eksteins, I will examine how hypertextuality can be used and its potential realized through postmodern expression. Continuing in the vein of historians and theorists such as Ann Rigney and Roy Rosenzweig that have written about the potential of hypertextual, democratic history, I will frame the potential of history in hypertext as an alternative, rather than a challenger, to current historical expression and the meaning-making process undertaken by historians and their readers.

Kate Siemens

University of Victoria