digital communities, social networking, hypertext, digitextuality, narrative mapping, critical theory, interface design, cultural memory, ethnographic methods, community journalism


Embedded in the quilt top, the fabric patches are relays, time pathways to stories and memories of their former owners. Through the quilts, the voices of the past survive. The stories trace a path of connection between oral traditions, storytelling, the invention of meaning, and the preservation of cultural memory. The theory and method described herein use the quilt patchwork metaphor as the basis for a web interface for designing and modeling knowledge-based graphical, narrative, and multimedia data. More specifically, the method comprises a digital storytelling and knowledge management tool that allows one or more users to create, save, store, and visually map or model digital stories. The method creates a digital network of a community's stories for digital ethnography work. Digital patches that represent the gateway to the stories of an individual are pieced together into a larger quilt design, creating a visual space that yields the voices of its creators at the click of a mouse. Through this narrative mapping, users are able to deal with complexity, ambiguity, density, and information overload. The method takes the traditional quilt use and appropriates it into a digital apparatus so that the user is connected to multiple points of view that can be dynamically tried out and compared. The hypertextual quilting method fulfills the definition of a deconstructive hypertext and emancipatory social science research methodologies by creating a collaborative, polyvocal interface where users have access to the code, content and conduits to rewrite culture's history with subaltern voices. In this digital place of intertextuality, stories are juxtaposed with images in a montage that denies the authority of a single voice and refuses fixed meaning. In dialogue, contestation, and play, the digitextuality of the Digital Story Quilt provides a praxis for critical theory. The Digital Story Quilt method concerns itself with questions of identity, the processes through which these identities are developed, the mechanics of processes of privilege and marginalization and the possibility of political action through narrative performance against these processes.


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Graduation Date





Saper, Craig


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Texts and Technology








Release Date

May 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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