Mystory is Gregory Ulmer's term for a digital writing genre that functions not by argument but by pattern formation. It is theorized inTeletheory and Heuretics: The Logic of Invention as well as outlined as pedagogy in the textbok Internet Invention.

Some basic premesis of the mystory:

  • Argument has limitations
  • Linear, logical reasoning has limitations
  • Pattern formation is a form of expression that resembles dream logic; dream logic is a new media logic
  • New media demand the invention of new practices
  • Narrative remains an important method for expression, even in new media
  • Ideas come from the intersection of various areas of experience
  • The personal is always tied to invention
  • The creative process is vital to composing

The mystory is a narrative. Its heuristic is the popcycle. The popcycle brings together four areas of discourse we use to make sense of the world:

  • The personal (family)
  • Entertainment/popular culture
  • Discipline (what one becomes an expert in)
  • School

These ares can be exchanged with others: religion, a place, an ideology, etc.

A student begins by constructing a popcycle. Three or four areas can be used.

The student fills in each area with content. For instance, if the choice for entertainment is funk, then details and reseach about funk would be recorded. If the student majors in computer science, then details and research about computer science are recorded. For the personal, an anecdote of significant meaning is usually chosen. The reason for filling in the categories with information is personal. A student chooses funk only if funk is a discourse of interest (and thus, one shaping identity).

When enough material is collection, patterns will be discoverd. The intersection of the areas of discourse is the pattern. The student uses the pattern to tell a story, a mystory. A mystory is not an obvious narrative because no one has yet to bring these areas of discourse together as the student will.

For instance, with funk, a student might discover:

  • James Brown's concept of the One.
  • Parliament's declaration that everything is on the one.

If the student studies computer science, a student might discover:

  • All code is binary. 1s and 0s.

Already, a pattern emerges: One. With more details and with the personal anecdote, the patterns become more substantial then this brief example shows. With enough content, the student can compose a narrative with patterns rather than construct an argument or rehash an already circualted argument. That composition can take place in a digital space where hyperlinks allow the writer to showcase patterns, or it take place on paper (see Ulmer's "Derrida at Little Bighorn" in Teletheory), video, or elsewhere.


Course Name: 
WRD 110
Assignment Type: 
Major Project
Assignment Length: 
Multiple Class Periods
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Preparation Guidance and Instructor Advice: 

See also Ulmer's own mystory, Noon Star.

See also Byron Hawk's Bystory.

See also Michael Jarrett's instructions for writing a mystory.

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