Hypertext Scholarship in American Studies: Call for Proposals

How will hypertext and new media change the nature of scholarly argument, communication, and publication? Although there has been much theorizing about hypertext and scholarship, there are very few concrete examples of scholars using hypertext and new media to present the results of sustained inquiry into the subjects that they study. In order to encourage experimentation in this arena, American Quarterly in collaboration with the American Studies Crossroads Project at Georgetown University and the Center for History & New Media at George Mason University are inviting scholars in American Studies to "publish" hypertext scholarship on-line as well as within the pages of AQ. Roy Rosenzweig will serve as guest editor for this project.

Beginning in 1998, we will publish a few scholarly essays in hypertext format on the World Wide Web. A forum discussing this experiment will appear in a subsequent issue of AQ. This special section of the journal will include the authors' own reflections on what they were trying to achieve in this new format as well as responses and commentaries by other American Studies scholars. Naturally, we will also publish the URLs for the actual projects, and will encourage print readers to examine these peer-reviewed, scholarly, hypertext essays on line.

How can you participate? Participants will be selected on the basis of proposals that must be submitted by 1 June 1998. Proposals should be no more than 750 words in length. They should specify the topic to be covered, the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the underlying scholarship, how much (if any) of the work has been done, and how an on-line hypertext presentation will make a difference from conventional print publication.

The level of scholarship in the proposed project--in terms of depth of work and analysis--should be equivalent to a print article in AQ. Proposals should include a brief vita. The editorial committee (and, if appropriate, specialized reviewers in the area of scholarship) will review proposals and by July 1, 1998 will choose those to be developed.

The full proposal is posted on-line at, where we will also post any additional information or "frequently asked questions" on the Web site.


Hypertext Scholarship in American Studies
A Proposal from
Louise Krasniewicz (UCLA)
Michael Blitz (John Jay College, CUNY)
An Exploration into the Structure of Web Presentations

During the heyday of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reign as a significant cultural icon of the late 20th century (the late 1980s to early 1990s), we conducted research on Schwarzenegger’s image and the baggage of masculinity, violence, power and money attached to him. We took it as our task to explain how and why Schwarzenegger had become one of the scales against which we measured our highest values and principles, and why at the end of the twentieth century could we not conceive of our culture without him. We wanted to know how this had come about and what effects were discernible in the culture that had nourished and embraced such a figure. Our analysis employed theoretical approaches from anthropology, film, cultural studies and literary criticism as we articulated in what ways we had come to rely upon him to lead us into the next century— cinematically, technologically, artistically, psychically, politically, physically, and morally.

Despite our awareness of Schwarzenegger’s amazing reach into all aspects of the culture, we were nevertheless shocked when he began to appear in our dreams. Irregularly at first, then more persistently, we each had complex, violent and erotic dreams (nearly 150 in all over 5 years) about the subject of our serious academic pursuit. In the very first dream that Michael Blitz had, Arnold laid out the approach for our encounter:

Michael's Dream February 17, 1991
Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to my door and says "I hear you are doing a book about me." He then tells me that Maria Shriver thought that she could find out about him by peeling away his layers like an onion. But he says that the only way anyone will find out about him is by breaking him into little pieces.

Actively engaging our dreams and interrogating their functions and inspirations became important to us because it seemed that the rational discourses we were using in our analysis were being undermined by the alternatives set upon us by the irrationality of dreams. Dreams are visual, sensual, experiential, surreal and collaged. Their footnotes are based in the individual memory, and their lexicon is usually highly individualized, shared with others only in translation. We electronically exchanged our dreams via e-mail and then incorporated them into our discussions, teaching, professional presentations, and writings. Our dreams of Arnold Schwarzenegger permitted us to elaborate upon both the minute and momentous impressions, anxieties and desires that each of us has about our subject. These elaborations provide us with a far less limited point of view of this subject than we would have had without the dreams.

Our interest was in the complexity and variety that dreams provided our research. This same variety and complexity is now also available in a far more intricate form through the hypertext structure of the World Wide Web. We see hypertext via the Web as an effort to map and articulate a dream-like territory where there can be radical shifts in context, unusual juxtapositions of content, sudden exits and entrances, the elimination of standard time references and physics, and creative elaborations on themes and theories.

We would like to use our research on Arnold Schwarzenegger, dreaming, and the construction of late twentieth century American techno-culture as an example of how hypertexts can work for academic research. Certainly one of the surprising experiences in our studying both dreams and a figure of popular culture was the need to inspect other, radically diverse fields—film analysis, popular and scientific dream analysis, neuropsychology, bodybuilding, autobiography, American politics, prosthetics, the culture of celebrity, computer graphics, and numerous others. These threads could never be fully articulated in a standard research or conference paper although we developed several mixed media performances and digital video presentations for academic conferences in order to incorporate this range of verbal, aural and visual material.

We would like to set up a Web experience where our research on the decidedly unusual subject of Arnold Schwarzenegger and dreams is the seductive entry point for a serious articulation of the possibilities of new media and hypertext for academic research presentation. In addition to including a serious academic text with hypertext links to related fields of inquiry and analysis (both popular and academic), we would include our archive of dreams and our digital media presentations (already translated into digital forms), an extensive bibliography and filmography (text and visual), related texts we have written individually and in collaboration, personal web sites, and related artworks. We would like to include a separate forum that invites visitors to the Web project to articulate dreams that have affected their research and their thought processes and how this is related to the structure and potential of the Web.


Dear Louise Krasniewicz and Michael Blitz-
I am writing with the good news that the committee has selected for
further development your proposal to the American Quarterly hypertext
scholarship on-line initiative. We had a very large number of excellent and
creative proposals, and we were only able to accept a small number of them
for this initial experiment. We are delighted that yours is among them.
The committee thought your proposal was particularly promising
because of the innovative nature of your subject matter, the possibilities
for rendering your argument online, and your credentials as people who have
done substantial work in digital formats. They were particularly intrigued
by the analogy you draw between dreams and hypertext and thought that
insight was worth developing.

Although the committee was impressed with the creativity of your
proposal, they also had some concerns. The proposal seems to cover a lot of
ground. Can this all be incorporated in a single project? What is the
central argument or arguments? (I realize that even asking this question
perhaps imposes a rather conventional set of criteria on a hypertext
project, but I still think that we are interested in communicating an
analysis, a set of ideas, and a body of information.) Right now, the
project seems more like a series of questions. In addition, we are not
always clear whether the project is primarily an "exploration of a popular
culture icon," as your title suggests, or a consideration of "the narrative
structure of human existence," as your introductory section suggests (and
the conclusion seems to also suggest), or a commentary on the relationship
between dreams and hypertext-or perhaps all of these. Given the centrality
of "narrative" to your discussion, we will probably need some kind of
working definition of that term.

Let me also repeat some aspects of the original call for proposals,
since the terms of this experiment are a bit complicated. We are accepting
at this time a few projects for further development. Those selected will
prepare on-line either a representative section of their project or a rough
draft by 1 September 1998, where the work will be subject to further review
and critique by the editorial committee. With the agreement and suggestions
of the editorial committee, the final articles will then be developed and
posted to the public by November 15, 1998, in order to be available at the
ASA annual meeting in Seattle. Participants are responsible for actually
creating the web pages and any required programming; we will provide the
Web space where the projects will reside. We will encourage on-line
discussion of the projects and the forum on the projects will appear in AQ
in 1999.

In a conventional submission to the AQ, articles are simply
accepted or rejected. In this case, we don't have the actual articles to
evaluate. Thus, we are making tentative acceptances based on the initial
proposals. But final acceptance is contingent on the completion of an
acceptable "prototype" by 1 September. Although the journal reserves the
right to reject projects that don't meet up to the expectations suggested
by the proposals, I would also stress that this further review should not
be seen as another "competition." Our hope is that all the proposals we
accept at this time will proceed to final "publication" in AQ.

Please feel free to write or call if you have any questions. I look
forward to working with you on including your fascinating project in this
new experiment for AQ.

Best wishes,



We’ll Be Back: The Hypertext Exploration of a Popular Culture Icon
Louise Krasniewicz and Michael Blitz

We would like to begin by acknowledging the unusual and “popular” nature of our subjects: Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most recognizable icons of American culture and dreams, one of the least respected forms of “data” in the academic world. We think, however, that it is this very unusual nature of our subjects that makes this project an ideal candidate for an experiment in hypertext publishing.

Because Schwarzenegger is instantly recognizable even to those who have never seen his films, we can provide a seemingly simple doorway than might be available with a more conventional topic. Second, the very nature of hypertext can be demonstrated not only by the links we create but by the thousands of links to Arnold Schwarzenegger Web sites. These links enable a critical evaluation of hypertext because these sites can be readily judged as to their veracity, coherence, intention and tone. They provide a fine example of the range of data—commercial, legal, academic and popular—that is available on almost any subject on the Internet.

Including a presentation of dream data is most unusual in the academic world but not on the Web. In fact, one dream site, reflecting some of our own theoretical strains, refers to the Internet as “the physical manifestation of the collective unconscious.” This site goes so far as to suggest that the Internet can be accessed through a highly original interface composed of communally hyperlinked dream texts (see a discussion of this interface at Our own approach utilizes dream data as almost an internal hyperlink, a built-in access to alternative and supplemental forms of information. Neither of us “analyzes” dreams in either the popular or classical psychoanalytical sense; we have used the dreams of our research as stimuli for further questionings.

We will, however, take a somewhat conventional approach to the central text in our project. By presenting an easily recognizable text form—the standard academic paper—and supplementing and challenging it with a vast array of hypertext links (to our own work, the works of others, and the general world of the Web) we hope to show the viability of marrying the two worlds. This text is not yet written but will be prepared specifically for this project and with hypertext links in mind.

The outline for our central analytical text follows. As, respectively, an anthropologist and a professor of literature and composition, we share a concern with narrative and metaphor. This concern will provide the basis for our analysis. We are interested in how mass culture icons figure in the narratives we use to structure our everyday lives. If people come to understand themselves and their worlds through narrative and if, as Hayden White suggests, “To raise the question of the nature of narrative is to invite reflection on the very nature of culture and, possibly, on the nature of humanity itself,” then a study of the narratives stimulated by or evoking an iconic figure can tell us much about how we organize our reality.

This will be a hypertext with numerous links to bibliographies (created by us and found on the web); databases; other scholars’ works (as posted by them on the web); Schwarzenegger film sites; sites that are elaborations on some issue of methodology or theory; fan sites; academic and psychoanalytic dream analysis; and other issues that are addressed in the text. The text at the appropriate points will also link to other papers or presentation we have already constructed:

Link to an extended discussion of hypertext as dreamlike narrative.

Link to a conference paper on methodology and theory of addressing dreams in research.

Link to a discussion of Senoi dream theory as both spoof and inspiration for dreamlike research.

Link to text database of “Arnold dreams” sortable by date, topic, author, etc.

Link within above database to digital videos visually reconstructing 5 dreams.

Link to our papers on Schwarzenegger films including “The Intersexts of Linda Hamilton’s Arms” and “Arnold and Stormin’ Norman: Twins Revisited.”

Link to “Dreaming Arnold Schwarzenegger” interactive computer program (visual interface to dream databases).

Link to our article on autobiography and Internet exchanges.

Link to segments of several digital videos presented at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting as an alternative form for the presentation of academic research (including “Pregnant Men: The Social Alchemy of Male Birthing” and “The (unauthorized) Autobiography of Consciousness”).

This project will also experiment with the other forms of web activity already described in our initial proposal.


1. Introduction: The Narrative Structure of Human Existence:
Giving events “an aspect of narrativity,” or making them into stories, is what people, perhaps all people, do to make sense of the world. Narratives, then, should give some insight into how a culture translates “knowing into telling,” how it presents itself to itself, and eventually, how this translates into attempts to build "a significant and orderly world.”

2. The work of narrative through cultural icons:
How icons function, why they are important to people, how people incorporate them into everyday lives, not as fans but as sharers in a collective narrative.

3.Recent models for the study of iconic figures in American culture:
Greil Marcus on Elvis; Wayne Kastenbaum on Jackie O; Garry Wills on John Wayne; David Thomson on Warren Beatty; challenging Wills’s model of uniqueness for John Wayne; how Schwarzenegger fulfills similar role but in a different time

4. What does Schwarzenegger-as-icon contribute to a collective narrative?
See this in three forms of narrative we have collected:

“Arnold stories” collected during ethnographic fieldwork
References to Arnold in everyday language and discourse
Arnold dreams recorded by the authors during research

5. “Arnold stories”
Brief analysis of the discursive structure of simple stories (collected during research) told about Schwarzenegger

6. References to Arnold in everyday language
An extensive analysis of more than 100 references to Schwarzenegger in media and everyday life. An analysis of the metaphors and analogies (in the manner of Lakoff and Johnson) employed to structure the meaning of these utterances. Some examples:

During the O.J. Simpson Trial, the prosecutor says that Nicole said the O.J for the last time, “Hasta la vista!”

A radio announcer says of Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, “Y’know, he’s not exactly the Arnold Schwarzenegger of world leaders.”

CNN announcer comments in a story on women leaving the military college The Citadel: “Schwarzenegger could not have lasted longer.”

L.A. Times article on HIV research: “Every time the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of science have the virus in their sights for destruction...”

A paragraph in Electronic Engineering Times is explicit about its metaphor: The SCSI interface has a lot in common with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s powerful. It’s hard to understand. And it’s terminator keeps coming back, even after you’re sure it’s a dead issue.

7. Arnold Dreams
These nearly 150 dreams which we had during the course of our research provide the linked structure of our study because as we worked the dreams linked for us previously unrelated topics. We will present a simple textual database of dream and by specific examples show both how they are consistent with the discourse and metaphors constructed in the first two samples but also how they revealed inconsistencies in the collective narrative known as American culture/Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Michael’s Dream February 5, 1993
Louise had found in a novelty shop a 78 rpm record of Arnold singing Elvis songs. One side was “Love Me Tender” and the other side was “Jailhouse Rock” which, she told me, when it played backwards, was also the “preamble” to Mein Kampf.

Louise's Dream February 23, 1991
Arnold is filming Terminator 2 at UCLA. The setting is some rolling hills on campus. It reminds me of two scenes-- the park from the movie Blowup and the hills from Kent State where the protesting students we shot by the National Guard. The director comes over and asks me to be an alien in the movie in a bar scene reminiscent of the one in Star Wars. I look in a mirror and I no longer have my own face because they have put a rubber mask on me. I am told that I have the major alien speaking part in the film. Cut suddenly to me in my poststructuralism seminar and I am telling my graduate students about this dream. We are sitting at a set of children’s desks that are in the same shape as the bar— in an oval with a space in the middle. Suddenly Arnold pops up in one of the seats facing me across the room. His face is a caricature. I say to him, “I am the major alien in your movie.”

8. Conclusions
A discussion of our analysis and the relation of narrative to the construction not only of American culture but the new global culture of the Internet.


Dear Louise and Michael:

The editorial committee for the AQ hypertext project has reviewed
your "article" and was very impressed with the work that you have done so
far on it. We were excited by the ways that you have explored this new
medium and the important questions that you have helped to raise
implicitly and explicitly about what it means to do scholarship in this
format. We think that your piece and the others we have reviewed will help
scholars in American studies to begin thinking much more seriously about
doing scholarship on-line.

Based on the work that you have done so far, we are pleased to
accept it for publication conditional on your successfully completing the
project and responding to the suggestions for revisions from the
committee. By this we do not mean that you need to carry out every single
suggestion that we have made; rather, we expect (as you would surely do
anyway) you to respond to these suggestions and to provide us with
explanations for why you think what we are recommending doesn't make
sense. In other words, we are imagining a process with some give and
take between us as you work to make your presentation as effective as
possible. The committee is, of course, delighted to review either further
drafts of the entire project or different pieces of the project as you
work on it.

Before turning to the specifics, I want to set out the overall
timetable. Because these projects are more complex than we had imagined,
we have decided that it is probably not realistic to insist that all the
participants finish them in time for the ASA in late November. That would
be great and we would publicize their availability if they are done, but
we are proposing instead a deadline of 4 January 1999 for a fully working
"beta" of the projects. We would at that point publicize their
availability on H-Amstdy and other lists and invite comments from people
who have looked at them. We would particularly ask three (perhaps four)
commentators to closely examine the projects and write a response for the
print version of the AQ-probably the June 1999 issue. For that same issue,
you would write a 1,000 word overview of your project, including some
discussion of what you were trying to do and why you believe the online
publication is an enhancement over a purely print publication. The
deadline for that statement would be 15 February 1999. Given the nature of
the medium, it would seem fine for you to continue to refine your project
after January 4th, although you should include a "version" note that would
explain the differences among the various iterations, particularly noting
how it might have changed since it was reviewed by the commentators.

We think that one of the exciting features of this project is that
the participants have taken different approaches (and we strongly
encourage you to examine the other prototypes). We do not want to impose
any uniformity on the projects, but we think that it would be helpful to
readers if they all shared at least one common feature. We had in mind
that each one would have a section that might be called "about this
article," in which you would give the reader a sense of the scale and
scope of the article (the number of documents, pictures, and links, for
example) as well as its overall navigational structure. This might be done
with a site map or it could be just done in prose.

The committee was very impressed with the quality of the design,
the ease of navigation, the depth of the resources, and the overall
creativity of your "essay." We realize that this is only a prototype of a
very ambitious project, and the main thing that remains to be done is for
you to finish up your already formulated plans. Nevertheless, we wanted to
make a number of suggestions, realizing that many of these may repeat
things that you are already contemplating.

1. Some of the people who looked at the project ran into technical
problems-accessing the movie or the QT VR. Given that we are hoping that
this will attract a range of different readers, you probably need some
careful technical notes for those who are not familiar with plug-ins and
the like.
2. There was a general feeling that the project would be improved
by more integration of the different parts. We wanted more
cross-referencing and we wanted you to deepen and make more explicit the
connections among dream structure, hypertext, and Arnold as icon.
3. We liked the image map that you included and wondered whether it
would be possible to turn that into an image map that could be used as a
way of navigating through the site.
4. The discussion of Arnold as icon seemed particularly
under-developed, especially in relation to what had been promised in the
original proposal. In that proposal, for example, you had described
sections dealing with "the work of narrative through cultural icons;"
"recent models for the study of iconic figures in American culture," and
"What does Schwarzenegger-as-icon contribute to a collective narrative?"
We also wondered about the historical specificity of your argument that
the place of the celebrity icon in American society. You seem to be
arguing that this is historically new; yet, is Arnold more "present" in
American society today than, say, Valentino in the 1920s? What is new
5. Although some parts of your analysis would benefit from further
development, we thought; other aspects of the site seemed less central-at
least in their current form. For example, the section on the films seemed
a bit discordant, since the introduction suggests that the analyses will
range from very brief to twenty pages. But, unless we missed something,
they were all very brief except for the two conference papers. The
unevenness of that seemed odd, and we wondered whether the whole section
was essential to the project and whether in some cases, less would not be
more. The papers are quite good, but do they really fit into the overall
structure of the site? They seem a bit like "add-ons."
6. Your original proposal also talked about including a conclusion
in which you discussed "our analysis and the relation of narrative to the
construction not only of American culture but the new global culture of
the Internet." Whether or not you need a formal conclusion, we thought
that the project would benefit from more foregrounding of what you are
trying to do here. We wanted a clearer sense of the "center" of the
project-the most important claims being made and goals being carried out.

By the length of these criticisms, we don't mean to detract from
our appreciation for the very impressive and substantial work that you
have already put into this project, but we wanted to try to suggest some
of the ways that this can become the best possible representative of what
can be done with American studies scholarship and new media. We look
forward to working with you to bring this to "publication."