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|Other Titles:||How Is Empathy Evoked in Interactive Multimodal Life Stories?|
Department of English, NTNU
|Abstract:||While the printed word, music and film have well-known means of evoking empathy, interactive digital media lacks such well-established storytelling strategies, especially with regard to non-fiction works. Autobiographical storytellers who wish to relate their experiences interactively, such as through hypertext, do not have a clear toolkit of techniques to rely on. In this paper, we consider some techniques used by autobiographical authors of hypertext stories to evoke empathy. Our close reading of two interactive works, Travis Megill’s Memorial and Steven Wingate’s daddylabyrinth, indicates that multimodal elements and the author-reader relationship are important factors in conveying a sense of “what it’s like” to be the autobiographical life subject. In Memorial, a tribute to a dead brother, the narrator is monologic and in-text hyperlinks uncover the layers of emotion of a brother’s grief. Occasional unexpected revelations from clicking a hyperlink give insight into the author’s inner conflictual, buried feelings of guilt. daddylabyrinth, a maze of hyperlinked vignettes that mirror the author’s psychological space, engages the reader conversationally, and is structured to reflect the author’s interior journey to exorcise the anger issues inherited from his father. Using Douglas and Hargadon’s distinction between immersion and engagement, we suggest that affective empathy is more likely to be evoked when a hypertext immerses the reader in a single, consistent stream of consciousness, whereas cognitive empathy is more likely to arise if the hypertext seeks to engage rather than immerse, by dialoguing with the reader and constantly overturning conventional schemas, and by foregrounding its structure.|
|Appears in Collections:||Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics|
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