Michael Joyce

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Michael Joyce (born 1945) is a professor of English at Vassar College. He is an author and critic of hypertext fiction and electronic literature.


  • I want to say I may have seen my son die this morning.
    • "afternoon, a story" (1990)
  • I was just telling my students about first reading D. H. Lawrence and having that feeling: it is done, I need not do more or attempt to... I would have to say – and this is less hubris, I swear, than a humble recognition from what others say about reading my work – that I have a way of shaping the experience of the text so that it becomes like a maze of mirrors set at angles to each other, not a funhouse labyrinth exactly nor the mirror in mirror, but rather an angularity wherein the mirror mirrors the blue opening as well as the opposing surface so that surface and opening multiply and intertwine.
  • "Hypertext is a representation of the text which escapes and surprises by turns," I wrote. Given the pure unaccountability (it is literally impossible to read all the possible variations of a richly linked hypertext) a hyperfiction writer is always attuned to "how the reader will interpret the literature presented" since its presentation shifts and flows in its composition as well.
    • Interview with Michael Joyce in Pif (January 2000)
  • In our online descriptions and program literature we describe the cloisters as a public sphere for networked interaction, the gathering place for students, professors, and librarians engaged in planning, evaluating, or reviewing the efforts of research and study utilizing the whole range of technologies of literacy. We go further and describe the task of the cloisters as to "channel flows of research, learning and teaching between the increasingly networked world of the library and the intimacy and engagement of our classrooms and other campus spaces". There we continue to explore the "collectible object", which I tentatively described in Othermindedness in terms of maintaining an archive of "the successive choices, the errors and losses, of our own human community" and suggesting that what constitutes the collectible object is the value which suffuses our choices. It seemed to me then that electronic media are especially suited to tracking such "changing change".
    I think it still seems so to me now but I do fear we have lost track of the beauty and nimbleness of new media in representing and preserving the meaning-making quotidian, the ordinary mindfulness which makes human life possible and valuable.
    It is interesting, I think, that recounting and rehearsing this notion leaves this interview layered and speckled with (self) quotations, documentations, implicit genealogies, images, and traditions of continuity, change, and difference. Perhaps the most quoted line of afternoon over the years has been the sentence "There is no simple way to say this." The same is true of any attempt to describe the way in which the collectible object participates in (I use this word as a felicitous shorthand for the complex of ideas involved in what I called "representing and preserving the meaning-making quotidian" above) the library as living archive.

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