An Introduction to the Glossa Ordinaria as Medieval Hypertext

The Glossa Ordinaria, the medieval glossed Bible first printed in 1480/81, has been a rich source of biblical commentary for centuries. Circulated first in manuscript, the text is the Latin Vulgate Bible of St. Jerome with patristic commentary both in the margins and within the text itself. This study, the first of its kind, introduces the reader to the Glossa Ordinaria both historically and through the lens of contemporary hypertext theory, arguing that the Glossa Ordinaria is a hypertext of the mind. By application of ancient, medieval and modern theories, this study encourages the reader to engage the Glossa Ordinaria in new and exciting ways. This book serves both as primer on the Glossa Ordinaria and examination of the text in light of modern theories

Reading Hypertext and the Experience of Literature

Hypertext has been promoted as a vehicle that will change literary reading, especially through its recovery of images, supposed to be suppressed by print, and through the choice offered to the reader by links. Evidence from empirical studies of reading, however, suggests that these aspects of hypertext may disrupt reading. In a study of readers who read either a simulated literary hypertext or the same text in linear form, we found a range of significant differences: these suggest that hypertext discourages the absorbed and reflective mode that characterizes literary reading.

Hypertext purpose, scope, and reader

George Landow sees hypertext as a democratizing force, a way to improve scholarship, a way to attain new levels of cooperation during the writing process, and an entirely new form of the text that can continue to change long after the author has finished typing the original words.1

Landow seems to be suggesting that every link to every page a reader could possibly follow from this paper to any other document would be included within the definition of what the original document (in this case, this very paper) consisted of.  I do not agree with anything of the sort.

The study of a poem that incorporates allusions requires a knowing reader, or least a reader with a willingness to know, while the use of a hypertext document requires an active reader.  By active reader, I mean one who is willing to follow the connections with which s/he is presented.  This requires neither previous knowledge nor excessive effort.  For a reader of a traditional text who is not inherently knowing (that is to say that he or she does not recognize and understand the allusion on his or her own), action is also required