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Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon

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Keywords: Negative Capability

Negative Capability (ˈnegətiv ˌkāpəˈbilitē):

Transmedia scholar Geoffrey Long defines negative capability as the "artful application of external reference to make stories and the worlds in which they are set even more alluring".  Long adapts the term from poet John Keats, who coined "negative capability" in a letter in 1817 to describe a sense of uncertainty, mystery, or doubt.  In transmedia stories, the strategic gaps that are created through these moments of uncertainty and mystery, are ultimately filled in through transmedia extensions.

As a narrative strategy, negative capability is the engine that fuels transmedia extensions.  For academics, similar textual ambiguities are a mark of sloppy scholarship, not carefully cultivated "gaps" to be filled in at a later date.  Digital "extensions" of scholarly work are commonly positioned as supplementary, rather than central to a comprehensive understanding of an argument. However, moving beyond static publication platforms, we are presented with the rich possibilities of designing scholarly arguments with these "strategic gaps" in mind, creating migratory cues to drive readers to new texts (or move through a networked text). 

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