Schedule – Summer


M  6.18

Overview of course: syllabus, blog

Digital Story – Class Notes

Slide talk: story forms, narrative theory/terms,  storytelling and evolution, computers and storytelling, digital convergence, networks

Tools & Platforms

Read story in class: Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin
In-class Exercises



W 6.20


Blog Prompt*:  Ancient Greek Drama is the foundation of dramatic storytelling in the West. The tragic plot can be found in novels , comics, movies, on TV,  in video games and in our politics. After viewing the BBC episode above, discuss aspects of Greek Drama in the art and entertainment in your media life: books, movies, games. Describe your emotional involvement with certain stories or genres. Do you think Greek Comedy and Tragedy will continue to be important form for the future of digital storytelling? Why or why not?

*Blog posts will be weekly 300-500 word reflections on the readings and viewings. Please do include quotes as a blockquote in the formatting menu and, if you want, links using the link tool . To add images, you can upload using the “add media” button in the menu.


Narrative Traditions – Class Notes
Aristotle’s Tragic Hero and Plot

Watch: Fargo by the Coen Brothers


M 6.25

Read: Aristotle’s Poetics
Blog Prompt: Discuss “Fargo” as an Aristotelian tragedy.  Map Aristotle’s criteria for a tragedy onto the plot points, events and characters in the movie.  Please use terms and quotes from Aristotle’s “Poetics.”  


Narrative Traditions – Class Notes
Discuss Aristotle’s Poetics

Alternate Narrative Traditions: manga, anime, avant-garde narrative, meta-narrative, rhetorical narrative
Affective-Expressive Narratives

in-class exercise:


W 6.27

Diagrammatic Writing, by Johanna Drucker

Great Rock n’Roll Pauses, by Jennifer Egan (a chapter from the novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad”)

Blog Prompt:
What ideas and/or strategies in Drucker’s “Diagrammatic Writing” or in Egan’s “Great Rock n’Roll Pauses” inspire you to shape your own typographical story? How can you create structure, sequence, emphasis, pacing and rhythm with type alone?


Typography and Graphic Design
Drucker discussion
Jennifer Egan’s  “The Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses”
E-lit and Typography

Typographic Narrative – Class Notes

Assignment #1:  Typographic Storytelling
Due next class (Monday)

Posting assignments…

Typographic Storytelling workshop


M 7.02

Read:  Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud – pgs 2-117

graphic novels: Chris Ware example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4

Blog Prompt: Digital storytelling may involve images in sequence (comics, slides, video), arranged spatially in an interface and/or integrated with other media such as text and audio. After reading about “sequential arts”, “gutters” and “time frames” in the chapters of Understanding Comics, how might you approach the next visual narrative assignment? What ideas does McCloud generate for you? Try to think outside the box.


DUE: Typographic Narrative: please post to the blog!
View Typographic Storytelling

Visual Narrative – Class Notes 

Assignment #2: Visual Narrative

Bring sketch paper  to next class or…. download and print storyboard paper

Discuss Understanding Comics, McCloud


July 4th – Holiday

W 7.04

No Class


M 7.9

Read:  Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud – pgs 118-215

Duane, Michaels, Things are Queer:


Blog Prompt:  After looking at the above photo sequence for inspiration, take 5 photos with your phone that uses one or more of the 6 transitions McCloud writes about in Understanding Comics. The photos could be shot around your home or out on an errand, with or without people, fiction or nonfiction. Think about how you can juxtapose the 5 images so that we can “read” a micro-story of an event, a movement through space,  a setting and/or character situation. Post these 5 photos in a sequence and write a brief statement about your photo story with ideas from McCloud.


Visual Narrative – Class Notes 

Discuss Understanding Comics, McCloud

Word and Image

Visual Narrative Project workshop


Vine exercise

Visual Narrative workshop


W 7.11

(first) Watch:

(then) Read:
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce

Blog prompt: After watching the film adaptation of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and then reading the short story by Ambrose Bierce, write a blog post about the differences between the two works. What was removed or changed in the film version and why?  What techniques in film language – pacing, editing, shot composition – successfully translate the effects in the short story?


Due: Visual Narrative
view projects

Discuss Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Continuity – 180 degree rule, match on action, shot reverse shot, POV shot, parallel action
Montage – rhythm, metaphor, associational thinking, dream, intellectual argument
Long take – “realism”, documentary-style, duration

Cinema Language- class notes

Watch: Noah opening

Vine exercise:


WORKSHOP: Visual Narrative


M 7.16

Read: Beyond Myth and Metaphor -The Case of Narrative in Digital Media, by Marie-Laure Ryan

My Boyfriend Came Back from the War, by Olia Lialina (1996)

My Body, by Shelley Jackson (1997)
Last Dream, by Andy Campbell (2006)
Editions at Play, by various authors
Hey Harry Hey Matilda, an Instagram novel by Rachel Hulin (2015)
A Modern Ghost
The Shootout by Alan Bigelow
Loss of Grasp, by Serge Bouchardon andVincent Volckaert (2010)

Blog Prompt:

Hypertext – hyperlinks connecting documents – opens up new ways to write, think and connect with others in networks.  Hypertext created the web, spawned new forms of art and ways of presenting knowledge. But has hypertext done anything new for storytelling? What kind of stories work best in digital form?

A digital story can be made of hyperlinks that follow a linear sequence, like pages of a book. But what about multilinear networks, random access and user interactivity – computer properties that break away from strictly linear sequencing?  Electronic games certainly use narrative forms and there is a rich history of literary fiction that have game-like qualities. Can the computer do for storytelling what it has done for gaming?

Read the essay and then explore the works listed above. Find one that most appeals to you and write a blog post about how the work can be considered a story- or not. Does the work present a coherent story world? What keeps you imaginatively engaged in the work? How does the navigation structure bring you into a story? Is linear sequencing clear, vague or unimportant? How do various signs present and/or conceal the works meaning?


Hypermedia – Class Notes

Assignment #4 :   Hypermedia Story

Digital Storytelling tools and platforms:



W 7.18

Symbol, Index, Icon

Book from the Ground: from point to point, by Xu Bing (amazon preview)
Filmtext, by Mark Amerika (2001-2002)
Cityfish, by J.R. Carpenter
Found Floppy, by Andy Campbell
Inanimate Alice, by Kate Pullinger
How to Rob a Bank, by Alan Bigelow
Tachistoscope, by William Poundstone
The Cartographer’s Confession, James Attlee

Blog Prompt: After exploring the works above, choose one work to view/read in depth. In your blog post, reflect on the role of symbol, index and/or icon in the story’s presentation. How does the type of sign and /or system of signs, help in the narration or presentation of the story?  How might you use different types of signs in your own project?


Signs: symbols, icons and indexical signs

Electronic Literature Lab visit

Discuss signs in digital stories

Workshop Final Project

Final Project – 40%

The final project may be a significant reworking of a previous project  or a new idea and direction.  You may also work on a group project (maximum 3 per group) with my approval. The requirement for the final project is that you incorporate typographic, visual, hypermedia elements and that you work on story structure.

Final Project Rubric:

You get an A if your digital story…

  • demonstrates an understanding of narrative structure: plot, character, development, recognition, reversal/ twist, climax/resolution, etc.
  • considers typography as both a design element and an expressive narrative element
  • uses design elements (imagery, color, type, layout) to create/support narrative context (genre,setting, character, backstory)
  • uses “closure” between images and between images and text to create interest and imaginative projection in the reader/user
  • has thoughtful interaction design (hypermedia, hyperlinks, branching structure, scroll, etc.) with navigation that is clear, yet also in  support or integrated with the narrative purpose
  • is proof-read, checked for errors in grammar, spelling and code
  • has complete content and is finished
  • includes an artist statement with the blog post and/or in the work itself

a B if your digital story…

  • Any work that is deficient in one of the above criteria

a C if your digital story…

  • Any work that is deficient in two of the above criteria

an F if your digital story…

  • Any work that is deficient in three of the above criteria


M 7.23


Blog: Watch the above videos about storytelling.  How does the most basic story engage our participation?  Try to answer this by looking critically at your own story for the final project. How can you improve your storytelling by 1) removing information, 2) generating questions and anticipation in the users, 3) making more compelling characters/situations? 

Bring index cards to class!


Due Hypermedia Project


Story= Anecdote (concrete events in cause and effect) + Meaningful Reflection (why is it important?)


simple plots – change of fortune

complex plots- Reversal of the Situation or Recognition or both, the element of surprise

Narration – objective/subjective or user interaction

Character – select details, motivation/goals, actions

Setting – select details, set mood, genre

Events – character actions/user interaction

Plot -sequence of events which affect other events, work backwards from ending

Theme – repeated patterns

Brainstorm Final Project

group story workshop

work with index cards

work on outline

group story workshop


W 7.25

Final Project workshop

DUE: Final Projects for Critique

Final Projects