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Trace Elements: Non-linear multi-narrative storytelling as a means of deconstructing American mythologies

Creative Commons 'BY-SA' version 4.0 license

The following paper is the critical foundation for the thesis project Trace, and draws analysis from New Media Studies, Queer Games Studies, Visual Culture Studies, Science Fiction, Queer Theory and more.

Trace is a non-linear, multi-vocal narrative fiction navigated from the experience of three family members around select historically pivotal events. A combination of text, illustration, video, sound and internet sources, Trace explores different modes of temporality and media representation to examine the frameworks in which particular stories are told. Shaped as a collection of multimedia fragments, the project offers the reader navigation through certain choices—such as avoidance, complicity, action, or resistance—as the story unravels. Trace is built in Twine, a free, open-source hypertext game platform, with some additional HTML5/CSS.

Both the project and paper attempt to question three main themes of media shift, queer structure and digital identities. First, how does new media function as both a platform and as perspective for continually shifting information? Second, how do queer narrative content and structure work together to amplify conceptual aspects of non-linear storytelling? Along with this question, the paper examines how several new media artists—with a particular focus on women, queer, trans and gender non-conforming artists—are working with non-linear storytelling to examine dominant historical narratives. And finally, is it possible to construct a truthful historical narrative that contains a multiplicity of voices, identities and contradictions?

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