Tierra de Extracción: How Hypermedia Novels could enhance Literary Assessment

Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that there are at least eight different types of intelligence. Due to genetic variation and personal experiences, no two people have the same combination of intelligences. These do not only signal the way we interpret and cope with the world around us but the way we react to it. It is no coincidence that Reader Oriented Theories focus on the role of the reader in processing and interpreting text and not solely on textual perception. As readers and students of literature, the act of interpreting is key to understanding; but limited by outdated methodologies of assessment the opportunity to demonstrate what has been learned is practically bound to their linguistic intelligence. With the change of medium, from paper to screen, literature has undergone a kind of art and media hybridization that far from being something new and original recovers and allows the coexistence of multiple means of storytelling that extend the concept of reading, understanding and expression. In a literary world of "Multiple Intelligences" and "Digital Natives" Electronic Literature offers not only the possibility of re-interpretation but a new approach in assessment methodologies that allow students from any background to express themselves in what Sir Ken Robinson would nowadays considered their "natural element". Some methods are already being put into practice by scholars and teachers of this new literary genre: using Formative Assessment and Project Based Assessment methods, among others, that have been improving academic results in all sorts of subject matters. Domenico Chiappe’s hypermedia novel “Tierra de Extracción” (Electronic Literature Collection Vol 2) covers, thanks to media rhetoric, all the intelligences Gardner mentions by encouraging cognitive development so that the reader as he or she explores, can also interact freely with images, drawings, videos, music, audio and text understanding by means of their intelligence as much of the message conveyed. But, what is even more interesting is that by deconstructing the intricacies of its creation students could re-create and produce their own particular results. Proving, in their own way, what they have learned and understand that the skills they already posses, whether they may be linguistic or not, have not only real world applications but literary ones as well. Tierra de Extracción was created by combining the Intrapersonal and Naturalistic Intelligences of a group of artist whom worked in collaboration to create a multi-plane narrative with a single artistic direction: Hyperphony (Multiple voices: Creative and Narrative) Intermediation / Remediation: *Text (Linguistic Intelligence): First plane of contact with story and content. *Music / Lyrics / Voiceovers (Musical Intelligence): The mood of each chapter is dictated by the soundtrack and its lyrics expose the subconscious of the characters while female voiceovers act as an omnipresent narrator. *Images (Visual Intelligence): Artists linked drawings and photographs to what is said in the text while portraying the cruel reality of “Mene Grande”. Interactive Fiction / Animation / Hypertext: With the collaboration of Andreas Meier Mathematical and Kinesthetic intelligences played a key role in the configuring of screens, interactive mechanisms and animation using programing tools like Shockwave and hypertextual links that puzzled it all together. Collaboration (Interpersonal Intelligence): Writers, Programers, Actors, Musicians and Photographers come together to create an electronic literature narrative adventure only possible on the interface of a screen.