May 25, 2024

Hypertext Reading Group ‘Flickering Monstrosity’, session 1, with visiting scholar Helen Kaplinsky

February 25, 2019.
5:00 – 7.00pm.

(Session 1 of 3)

Over the course of the next year, Helen Kaplinsky invites the public, alongside faculty and students to three reading group sessions. Each will include an opportunity to read and discuss both contemporary and historical works of electronic literature. The sessions aim to ask why are these hyperlinked and non-linear forms of storytelling returning into popular use? What does this format afford, particularly concerning the ownership of certain gendered and ‘othered’ bodies they often address as a subject?

The first session will look at: Patchwork Girl, Shelley Jackson, written in Storyspace software and published by Eastgate Systems (1995); – The Laughing Snake, Morehshin Allahyari, co-commissioned by Whitney Museum of American Art, Liverpool Biennial and FACT, (2018).

More than 20 years apart in their creation, the two works are tethered in their narration of a monstrous ‘She’ body, composed through a hyperlinked, electronic-literature format. The ‘She’ who “embraces otherness” (Allahyari) is a “hideous progeny” (Mary Shelley, preface to Frankenstein, (1831)) that is both the author, the subject and the reader. We will discuss the qualities of these subjectivities, produced in their embodied reading.

We will have both works on screens and available to read during the session. Helen is initiating the acquisition of a copy of Patchwork Girl by LJMU and Kings College libraries whilst the The Laughing Snake is available online


Background Reading:

Shelley Jackson, Stitch Bitch: The Patchwork Girl, November 4, 1997, transcript of Jackson’s presentation at the ‘Transformations of the Book’, Conference held at MIT on October 24-25, 1998.

N Katherine Hayles, ‘Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl’ in My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Re-figuring Ourselves – A Conversation with Morehshin Allahyari and Christiane Paul, Stages journal, volume 8, December 2018, Liverpool Biennial.

Refiguring Monstrosity, interview with Morehshin Allahyari by Joel Kuennnen, Seen Journal, 2018.


Helen Kaplinsky is an Independent curator and writer undertaking a visiting scholar position within the LJMU’s Exhibition Research Lab (ERL). She is currently developing a programme for Science Gallery London (SGL), part of Kings College London and Wellcome. An element of this research, concerning gender, technology and narration, will be explored in the context of ERL.