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University of Texas at Austin

Michael Joyce:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Joyce, Michael, 1945-
Title: Michael Joyce Papers
Dates: 1953-2006
Extent: 52 document boxes, 1 oversize box (osb), 1 oversize file (osf) (21.84 linear feet)
Abstract: The Michael Joyce Papers consist of published and unpublished manuscript drafts, academic and administrative materials, correspondence, software documentation, journals and appointment books, student papers, and personal files that document the career and personal activities of writer Michael Joyce.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4989
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 2005, 2006 (R15376)
Processed by: Vivian Spoliansky, Thomas Kiehne, 2005; Catherine Stollar, 2007; Gabriela Redwine, Daniela Lozano, 2013

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Born on November 9, 1945 in Lackawanna, New York, to Thomas and Joanne Joyce, Michael Thomas Joyce is the eldest son in a family of eight children. Joyce was heavily influenced by his family's Catholic faith and attended Catholic and Jesuit schools, including Canisius College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1972. In 1973, Joyce received a fellowship to the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and graduated with an MFA in 1974.
Publication of his first print novel, The War Outside Ireland (1982), was an important turning point in Joyce's career. Though the book was widely reviewed and awarded the Great Lakes New Writers Award in fiction (1983), through the writing process Joyce discovered that he wanted to write novels that would change in successive readings. After reading numerous technology and computer magazines, he came across an article about Natalie Dehn who was working to teach computers to write novels at the Yale Artificial Intelligence Lab. Joyce and Dehn began a correspondence which led to Joyce receiving a one year fellowship to Yale University in 1984, and perhaps more importantly, led to his collaboration with Jay Bolter and John B. Smith. By the end of 1985, Joyce and Bolter had developed a working prototype for Storyspace, the hypertext computer software which Joyce began using with his students in 1986, and later used to write his first hypertext fiction piece, afternoon, a story (1987). Writing in The New York Times, Robert Coover described afternoon as "the granddaddy of hypertext fictions... a legend."
Another hypertext fiction, WOE (1991), was the centerpiece of a special hypertext issue of the journal Writing on the Edge. Joyce's "On the Birthday of the Stranger" was featured as the inaugural work for the Evergreen Experimental Site of the online version of the Evergreen Review in 1999. Two longer hypertext fiction works, Twilight, A Symphony (on CD-ROM) and Twelve Blue (on the World Wide Web), were both published in 1996 by Eastgate Systems. In 2002, Joyce returned to the "traditional" novel and published the print novel Liam's Going.
Joyce served as coordinator for the Center for Narrative and Technology and associate professor at Jackson Community College, Jackson, Michigan from 1975 to 1992. In 1992, he went to Vassar College as a visiting professor under a Sloan Foundation grant for teaching with technology in the humanities, and in 1995 took a position there as an English and Media Studies professor and as Director of the Center for Electronic Learning and Teaching.
Most of Joyce's academic works have been published in one of three collections of essays: Moral Tales and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions (2001), Othermindedness: the Emergence of Network Culture (2000), and Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics (1995). He has lectured and published widely on issues relating to hypertext and writing, and his essays are primary texts in those fields.
Joyce draws some elements from his personal history to his work. His marriage to Martha Petry Joyce, a published hypertext author herself, and their two sons, Eamon and Jeremiah, are sometimes referenced in his essays and novels. He later married author and artist Carolyn Guyer with whom he has co-authored multiple projects.


Joyce, Michael. "Short Biography," unpublished.
"Michael Joyce." Contemporary Authors Online, 2005. (accessed July 9, 2013).
New York University Press Online. "Authors' Bios." Sister Stories, (accessed May 9, 2005).

Scope and Contents

The Michael Joyce Papers consist of published and unpublished manuscript drafts, academic and administrative materials, correspondence, software documentation, journals and appointment books, student papers, and personal files that document the career and personal activities of writer Michael Joyce. The materials are arranged into eight series: I. Works and Related Materials, 1969-2004; II. Academic Career, 1975-2005; III. Correspondence, 1965-2006; IV. Storyspace, 1985-1999; V. Journals and Appointment Books, 1972-2004; VI. Personal, 1953-2004; VII. Works by Other Authors, 1951-2004; and VIII. Published Materials, 1982-2002.
Series I. Works and Related Materials contain drafts of published and unpublished works, editor and agent correspondence, and other materials related to Joyce's literary career. The series is arranged in alphabetical order by title. Major works represented in the series include the first ever hypertext novel, afternoon, a story (1987), and the linear print novels The War Outside Ireland (1982) and Liam's Going (2002). Afternoon, a story was composed almost entirely in the digital environment, so very few paper drafts exist within the collection. Many of Joyce's other works, such as the web-published hypertext fiction piece Twelve Blue (1996), were created using specialized software, such as Storyspace or Hypercard, and are represented solely in Joyce's digital materials, with no associated paper-based records (see Separated Materials). The War Outside Ireland is well documented, as are the unpublished works 'Good Men' and 'As: A Novel,' and numerous short stories.
Series II. Academic Career is organized into four subseries: A. Academic Works, 1982-2005; B. Administrative Materials, 1975-1999; C. Conferences, 1987-2004; and D. Teaching Materials, 1973-1996. Subseries A. Academic Works contains presentations, talks, conference papers, meditations, and essays written by Joyce in the course of his academic career. Most of the essays included in this subseries have been published in one of the following collections: Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics (1995), Othermindedness: the Emergence of Network Culture (2000), or Moral Tales and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions (2001). Subseries B. Administrative Materials contains material relating to Joyce's applications for academic tenure, employment, fellowships, or grants. Programs, published proceedings, correspondence, and posters from conferences or workshops Joyce attended or administered are ordered chronologically in Subseries C. Conferences. Subseries D. Teaching Materials includes learning objects, notes, assignments, and other materials used by Joyce while teaching. Most of the materials represent the earlier portion of his teaching career, as his later courses are largely digitally based.
Series III. Correspondence includes incoming and outgoing handwritten and typed letters, as well as printed copies of electronic mail (email). The series is divided into three subseries based on Joyce's original file arrangement: Subseries A. Chronological Files, 1968-2004; Subseries B. Printed Email, 1995-2006; and Subseries C. Alphabetical Files, 1965-2004. The email in subseries B. was selected, printed, and indexed by three of Joyce's student assistants, and they remain in the original three chronological groupings created by each student (Parts I-III). Notable correspondents include Howard Becker, Vance Bourjaily, Natalie Dehn, J. Yellowlees Douglass, John Enright, Stuart Moulthrop, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. A complete index of all correspondent names in this collection is included at the end of the finding aid.
Materials relating to the creation, documentation, testing, distribution, and promotion of the hypertext software program Storyspace are housed alphabetically in Series IV. Storyspace. The early development of Storyspace and Joyce's co-creation of Riverrun Ltd. are well documented; however, the relationship among Storyspace, Riverrun Ltd. and hypertext publisher and Storyspace distributor Eastgate Systems, Inc. is poorly documented.
Personal materials in the Joyce Papers include chronologically ordered journals and appointment books in Series V. and alphabetically ordered personal documents in Series VI. Between 1974 and 2004, Joyce kept detailed journals about his work, fiction writing, feelings, relationships, health, and other personal issues. His fictional novels and short stories often mirror Joyce's real life as recorded in his journals.
Series VII. contains published and unpublished short works by other authors, including students. These works are in alphabetical order by author name. Series VIII. consists of published serials containing pieces by or about Joyce, and are in alphabetical order by journal title.

Separated Material

Books received with the Joyce Papers were transferred to the Ransom Center Library Collection.
Physical media containing electronic records were transferred to the Ransom Center Electronic Records Collection. Included are 371 3.5-inch computer disks, three CDs, two DVDs, and one laptop computer. The physical media and electronic files they contain are restricted for access. Most of the electronic media was formatted for Macintosh operating systems, OS8, OS9 and OSX.
Additional non-manuscript items were transferred to appropriate departments within the Ransom Center in 2013. These include six CDs, fifteen 3.5-inch disks, and one 5.25-inch disk transferred to the Ransom Center Electronic Records Collection. Items transferred to the Personal Effects collection include one painted fabric wall hanging and several items taken from a bulletin board including: one potato gun in its original packaging, one paint can lid with dried white paint, one yellow button with the words "No war in the Gulf," one yellow and black button with the word "Iowa" and a yellow and black ribbon and small plastic football attached, one empty box of Cara safety matches, one empty package of Flavor House dry roasted sunflower seeds, one small bundle of blue and yellow wires with a yellow pushpin and a piece of tape on which is written "Loc. 137 Ext. 287," one set of two unused Christmas themed hand towels, and one green plastic 6-inch ruler with stencils.

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