Instructor Reflection – Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego (8.1)

Instructor reflection: Dr. Kristen Lillvis

Gin Jackson provides a fascinating look at culture in her Spark page “Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego.” In examining player agency, Jackson notices that the player’s choices become more restrictive as the player character ages, which she links to a limited cultural view in terms of identity factors such as sexual orientation. The connections Jackson makes between text and context in her Spark page speak to the larger significance of electronic literature, or e-lit, as well as literature as a whole.

Jackson’s Spark page developed out of a prompt for students in ENG 263: Intro to Digital Literary Studies to craft an argument about agency in a work of e-lit. Students were tasked with considering a work’s aesthetic and technical elements, and Gin examined both, working on the technical side by testing her chosen text, Peter J. Favaro’s Alter Ego, in multiple browsers. Gin also incorporated hyperlinks into her Spark page, which take the reader beyond her work and to some of the many contexts that surround it.

Jackson also examines the text’s contexts in her discussion of the “About” section for Alter Ego, which includes Choose Multiple LLC’s encouragement of modifications to/updates of Alter Ego. Here, Jackson brings her interests in identity and e-lit together, considering how issues of relatability reflect limitations in American culture, past and present. Jackson’s Spark page encourages readers to interact with Alter Ego and consider alternative options while engaging with the text. She also allows readers to imagine the possibility of reading similar analyses for Alter Ego updates—what else might we learn about our cultures and ourselves?