Electronic Literature / Introduction

  • Intro: syllabus, e-lit genres, Computation and networks
  • Blogging, writing about e-lit
  • Tools: ELL, twine, exercises

Intro Notes


Language Arts & Combinatory Poetics


  • Genres of Electronic Literature and Combinatory Poetics, Rettberg
  • Taroko Gorge, Nick Monfort

Blog: Read the first two chapters or Rettberg’s book, Electronic Literature. View 2-3 versions of Taroko Gorge and look at the source code of each. Make a post about how these works were written. What do you take to be the meaning of these texts? What is the effect of combinatory writing on the reader? 



TALK: collage, combinatory writing and language art, aleatoric, stochastic, variable, deterministic, combinatory, recombinant

silent Film, Hollis Frampton, Robert Beaver, Kluge, Godard

exquisite corpse, cut-ups and N+7, Taroko Gorge 

Combinatory Notes



Hypertext Fiction 1


Blog: After reading the Rettberg chapter on Hypertext and Coover’s “The Babysitter” (take your time with this one!), discuss your thoughts about how Coover’s story is a model for later works of Hypertext. How does the story’s structure involve the reader in multiple narrative paths?



discuss The Babysitter

TALK: Hypertext, Spatial Writing, Storyspace

Intro to lab
formats: floppy, cd-rom
demo: afternoon, a story

start small-group readings:

Hypertext Notes



Hypertext Fiction 2


Blog: With the advent of social media, hypertext is no longer a novel feature of digital writing. However, the growing Twine community is showing a renewed interest in hypertext fiction. Based on Rettberg’s book so far, the articles above and the in-class reading of “afternoon, a story”, share your thoughts about the future of hypertext fiction as a literary form. Can the link-structure, nonlinearity and fragmentation of hypertext express something of our world that print cannot?  



continue small-group readings

reports and Discussions

hypertext exercise

Hypertext Notes


Net Art & Hypermedia



About Works:

Blog: Explore the above three works of hypertext fiction, along with the writing about the works. The expressive hypertext works presented on the web in the late 90s were often within the context of “net art.” Net Art was a loosely defined online community of artists, writers and coders who embraced low bandwidth connections speeds, the accessibility of HTML and JavaScript to create interactive multimedia works, the frontier freedoms of expression and copyright in the early web, and the intimacy of connecting to a readership/viewership without intermediary publishers. 

Choose one of the works to read/explore in-depth and write a post reflecting on themes explored so far: multilinearity, variability, combinatory poetics, intertextuality, reflexivity, navigation structures, the relations or tensions between image, sound, text. How do these online works differ from the earlier published hypertext fiction?



Talk: Net Art 

small-groups readings and reports

net art exercise

Net Art Notes


Interactive Fiction & Narrative Games

Read: Interactive Fiction and Other Game-like Forms 


Blog: After reading Rettberg’s chapter on the evolution and variety of digital literary games, explore the works listed above and choose at least two to explore in-depth. Compare the uses of game interaction to communicate narrative or poetic ideas. How do game goals and puzzles involve the “interactor” in finding meaning in the works?  Are there clear goals or is the game framework an excuse to explore more literary ideas? How do the works engage your imagination? 



TALK: Interactive Narratives

small-group readings

game exercise

IF and Games Notes

List of Chosen ELD Topics/Works

ELD Entry (20%) 

Write a research entry for the Electronic Literature Directory (ELD) about a term or a work of a electronic literature. The essay should be 500-750 words and include a bibliography, screen gabs or screen captures. A list of terms and works will be provided.

  • First draft is due 03/01 – 5% 
  • Final draft is due 03/22 – 15% 


Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Read: Kinetic and Interactive Poetry, Rettberg


Blog: After reading Rettberg’s chapter, explore the works of digital poetry listed above. Choose 2-3 that most interest you for a more in-depth discussion of the works in the context of modernist poetry practices such as “concrete poetry”, symbolism, futurism, visual poetry or “vispo”, sound poetry and film poetry. 



Live Stream Traversal of Richard Holeton’s Figurski at Findhorn on Acid: 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

TALK: Digital Poetry

small-group readings

digital poetry exercise

E-Poetry Notes



Multimedia Fiction


Blog: Explore the works above so that you are at least familiar with how they employ multimedia, kinetic typography, interactivity, game-like features, navigation, multi-linearity, fragmentation, juxtaposition, narrative sequence and interface design to create fictional spaces. Then choose two or three works to explore in-depth. How do the works generate their fictional worlds? How do you “understand” the works as fictions? Are there plots and characters? Are these works immersive, abstract or some combination of the two? Make screen grabs of portions of the works to support your observations.



TALK: Multimedia Fiction

small-group readings

add media to Twine Projects

Multimedia Notes

Draft of ELD Entry Due 


Network Writing 

Read: Network Writing, Rettberg

Blog: Explore the works below so that you get familiar with some of the genres of network writing as described by Rettberg. How is the network, often invisible to us as we “engage” online, made visible in these works? What is the literary value of these works?  Do they engage emotionally? Do they stimulate your thinking about the networks we live with?



TALK: Network Writing

Network Writing

Final Essays (35%)

Write an 2500-3000 word digital essay or research paper about a particular work or a comparison of 2-3 works; or about processes, techniques, themes and/or genres discussed in class. The topic is quite open. Use in-class scholarly readings, screen grabs/captures and any outside resources that you find helpful. Please provide a bibliography for all resources and citations.


Create a work of electronic literature (with Twine or HTML) that explores themes/topics/processes discussed in class. The creative work should include a 500-1000 word artist statement discussing the ideas you are exploring in the work. It should engage with class readings.

  • Topics must be emailed to me for approval.
  • You may use Twine or HTML to present your paper.


Spring Break



3D Literature

Read: Divergent Streams, Rettberg

Blog: Which of the new forms from “divergent streams” discussed by Rettberg interest you most? Why? What literary possibilities are there in virtual and augmented worlds?


Descriptions of Final Essays Due (250 words)


TALK:VR and AR fiction

View VR and AR works

3D Lit Notes




Read: PRY (Prologue through Chapter 4)

Optional Read: A Chance for Cinema-Writing, by Will Luers

Blog:  Read/view the first half of Pry and take notes and screengrabs on 2-3 sections that intrigue or puzzle you. Comment on how the these moments relate to the unfolding story. Comment on the interface, navigation and/or the montage of text and video. What is this work about?


Set up Essay Meetings with me (5%)


TALK: expanded and computational cinema

Discuss Pry

View works

Mobile exercise

Cinema-Writing Notes



E-lit Scholarship 

Read: Pry (Part 5, 6, 7, 8,  Epilogue)

Blog: Finish Pry taking notes and screengrabs on 1-2 sections that intrigue or puzzle you. Comment on how the these moments relate to the unfolding story. Comment on the interface, navigation and/or the montage of text and video.

What is this work about? What are some themes? What is the plot? How does form relate to content?



ELD Entry Due

Dene Grigar visit

Discuss Pry


Mobile Fiction 


Blog: No post



TALK: Mobile Fiction

Make Campus Walks…

Mobile Fiction Notes


Mobile Fiction Presentations


Campus Fiction Walks…

Oral Presentations (5%)


Final Presentations


Oral Presentations (5%)

Final Essays Due April 30th at Midnight