Summer 2008 Prof. Chris Funkhouser
(funkhouser [at] adm [dot] njit [dot] .edu)
Office Hours on WebCT chat by appointment


Digital poetry is a genre based in literary, visual, and sonically based arts that has proliferated in the past five decades. This course investigates the different activities taken up by poets who integrate computer technology in their works. You will discuss and evaluate virtues of the dynamics presented in an array of works produced by poets and programmers. Poems that include algorithmic programming, graphical artistry, videography, and hypertext designs are introduced and explored, in order to build an understanding of the values of these disparate forms of expression and deliberate on the creative potential of this new genre.

The course will focus on the issues of developing reading strategies for the materials presented, how to build an understanding of its content, and how technology plays a role in the formation of expression. How do we read this poetry, created in an age when the written word has become so mediated, where written texts and artistic forms so commonly intervene with each other, when the craft has been so transmuted through technology? Negotiating a series or coordination of texts is a predominant feature of electronic work, and understanding the significant aspects of these acts plays a critical role in digital literature on multiple levels. Creation of digital poetry in principal combines the activity and effort of both creator and audience, who must often thoughtfully participate in the textual activity and thereby experience the poem on visceral and cognitive levels through the use of technology. Not only is the reader of the poem participating in textual and intertextual negotiation but also negotiation with hardware and software to produce results.

Be prepared to experience and analyze course content as deeply as possible.

Please note that the syllabus is subject to change. I will post notice of any changes made to WebCT.


Required Textbook:

Funkhouser, C.T.: Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995 (available at NJIT bookstore)

Required Reading Course revolves around engagement with discussion about the set of selected reading/viewing materials contained on this syllabus. You are required to carefully review all materials listed on or linked to this syllabus, as well as any additional materials provided on WebCT. PLEASE NOTE: it is important that you follow the syllabus, reading and discussing materials as they are introduced, participating as directed; please stay focused on what is current, and partake in the discussions while they are happening.

Online Participation/WebCT discussion/Assignments (60% of grade)

You are required to initiate and/or participate frequently in substantive discussion on WebCT (essentially you should post daily, and the sum of your contributions should be greater than 1,250 words per week). Four of these postings should be content-rich (i.e., at least a paragraph in length: 250 words, 6 sentences minimum). Postings should include specific references/details from the readings, textbook, and external references when possible. Your own impressions of, perspectives on, or experience with the material under discussion should also be expressed.

Note: For each reading assignment, the five members of one of the four class groups will initiate discussions WebCT, to which the rest of the class should respond as inclined (the group list will be posted on WebCT). You do not have to post on every single thread, though you are more than welcome to.

You are also required to post a weekly 250-500 word summary, that contains reflections upon week's reading. These summaries should make connections between the historical information contained in the textbook and the creative works being studied on the syllabus. In the summaries, an overview statement should be made at either the outset or conclusion, which draws conclusions about the week's reading/viewing materials. These will be posted on the WebCT assignments section on the last day of each week and be graded on a scale of 1-10. Create summaries using Microsoft Word, and post them as .doc files titled yourlastnameSUM1.doc, yourlastnameSUM2.doc, yourlastnameSUM3.doc, yourlastnameSUM4.doc at the appropriate times. Please note: you may draw content from your WebCT discussion postings.

Two assignments relating to topics in the course will be on a credit/no credit basis. Assignments will be submitted via WebCT Discussion Board for peer commentary and exchange.

Course Project or Paper (40% of grade) You have a choice to either (1) create an original work of digital poetry that responds or corresponds to course materials (accompanied by a 500 word written rationale/poetics statement), or (2) write a 12-15 page term paper, an analytical essay in response to texts presented in the course. Papers should be focused on a clearly defined, non-general topic (incorporating a thesis that is supported by research and observations). Proposals (detailed, with bibliography) are due July 28 (send via email). Project/paper may be completed/submitted at any time; last day to submit is August 7. Examples of works created by students in previous courses will be presented.

Policy on Late Work: I will accept work up to one week late.

Determination of Grades: All work will be evaluated on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0; this scale roughly equates to: 10 = A; 9 = B+; 8 = B; 7 = C+; 6 = C; 5 =D; < 4=F

All work for the course is due August 7
NOTE: The computer that you use to view these works needs to have a browser supports frames, Java, Javascript, the Flash/shockwave plugin, and possibly other tools. In order to fortify your postings and summaries (and final paper, if you opt to do one), you will need to know how to use the computer’s screen capture function in order to include images/illustrations; if you do not know how to “grab” images from the screen, please contact me.

S c h e d u l e

WEEK 1 (begins 7/7)

Required reading: Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995.

for 7/7-8: self-introductions (WebCT)

for 7/9: "Introduction: Evolving Circuits of Digital Poetry" (pp. 1-30, members of group 1 initiate discussion)" and "Techniques Enabled: (Pro)Fusions after Poetry Computerized" (221-255, members of group 2 initiate discussion);

for 7/11: "Origination: Text Generation" (31-84, members of group 3 initiate discussion) and "Visual and Kinetic Digital Poems" (85-150, members of group 4 initiate discussion);

for 7/13: "Hypertext and Hypermedia" (151-198, members of group 1 initiate discussion) and "Alternative Arrangements for Digital Poetry" (199-220, members of group 2 initiate discussion).

optional reading: Jorge Luiz Antonio “Digital Poetry”; Sandy Baldwin, "Foreword," and C.T. Funkhouser, "A Chronology of Works in Digital Poetry, 1959-1995" (in textbook).

WebCT contributions and summary

Use WWW to conduct independent research on topics of interest related to reading material.

WEEK 2 (begins 7/14)

Reading: t.b.a.

for 7/15 (members of group 3 initiate discussion):

Jim Andrews, "Stir Fry Texts"

Jim Andrews, "On Lionel" [read/click through all of the narrative, and watch the video]

for 7/16 (members of group 4 initiate discussion):

Millie Niss with Martha Deed, "Oulipoems" [view all except "Morningside Vector Space"]

for 7/17 (members of group 1 initiate discussion):

geniwaite, "Generative Poetry" [view all]

for 7/18 (members of group 2 initiate discussion):

Loss Pequeño Glazier, "White-Faced Bromeliads on 20 Hectares"

Jim Carpenter, Erika [generate multiple poems and write review of the tool]

for 7/19 (members of group 3 initiate discussion):

TRAVESTY GENERATOR: http://www.eskimo.com/~rstarr/poormfa/travesty.html; also read explanation of the work: http://www.eskimo.com/~rstarr/poormfa/explaintravesty.html ASSIGNMENT: choose an input text to run through TRAVESTY, selecting different parameters for the same text (i.e., vary the order and characters of output); copy your favorite examples of output; PLEASE NOTE: the more text you put into the input box, the more extensive (and interesting) the output will be. CREATE SEVERAL TRAVESTY TEXTS, USING DIFFERENT INPUT TEXTS. Post to WebCT Discussion Board and discuss.

for 7/20 (members of group 4 initiate discussion):

Florian Cramer, "Combinatory Poetry and Literature in the Internet"

Florian Cramer, Permutations [Explore page; make texts using (a) Free-form text permutation, Cut-Ups, Dada Poem; study how these texts are made. Post your 2 best/favorite texts, with commentary, to WebCT for further discussion].

for 7/21:

Your Personal Poet
[download and run poet.zip from WebCT ].

The Internalational Dictionary of Neologisms

optional reading: Florian Cramer, "Computational Literature" http://www.hotkey.net.au/~netwurker/fclecture.pdf; Raymond Queneau, Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes (Hundred Thousand Billion Poems) http://www.bevrowe.info/Poems/QueneauRandom.htm, The Shannonizer, Chris Funkhouser, "Electronic Literature circa WWW (and Before)" http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/electropoetics/collected.

WebCT discussion contributions and summary

WEEK 3 (begins 7/21)


for 7/22 (members of group 1 initiate discussion):

bpNichol, First Screening

David Daniels, "Humans" [ review 5 poems ]

Visual poetry. Wikipedia definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_poetry

for 7/23 (members of group 2 initiate discussion):

Mary Ellen Solt, from Concrete Poetry: A World View: "The New Visual Poetry", "The New Poet Reader", "Conclusions"

Brian Kim Stefans, the dreamlife of letters

Richard Kostelanetz, "A Poetry-Film Storyboard: Transformations"

for 7/24 (members of group 3 initiate discussion):

Geof Huth’s Visualizing Poetics Blog http://dbqp.blogspot.com/ [review current material and archive for WebCT discussion; be sure to read "The Catechism of Visual Poetry Doctrine: Faith"]

ASSIGNMENT: Make a visual poem using typography, image, etc. Post to WebCT.

John Cayley, "wotclock"

Robert Kendall, "faith"

for 7/25 (members of group 4 initiate discussion):

Cynthia Lawson Jarmillo, Stephanie Strickland, Paul Ryan, slippingglimpse

Ingrid Ankerson, Megan Sapnar, "Cruising"

Giselle Beiguelman, "Code Movie"

for 7/26 (members of group 1 initiate discussion):

Dan Waber, Strings

mIEKAL aND, "Seedsigns"

"Mesostic for Dick Higgins" http://www.cla.umn.edu/joglars/mesostics/index.html

for 7/27 (members of group 2 initiate discussion):

Kerry Lawrynovicz, "Girls' Day Out"

Bill Marsh, "Landscapes"

Alan Sondheim/Reiner Strasser, "TAO"

for 7/28:

Alan Sondheim/Reiner Strasser, "Dawn"

Optional Reading: C.T. Funkhouser, "Appendix A: Codeworks," "Appendix B: Holography" (pp. 257-270, Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archeaology of Forms, 1959-1995); Philippe Bootz, Marcel Frémiot, "The Set of U"; Giselle Beiguelman, "Ceci n'est pas un nike";

WebCT contributions and summary

WEEK 4 (begins 7/28)

project/paper proposals are due 7/28 (send via email)


for 7/29 (members of group 3 initiate discussion):

Jim Rosenberg, Diagrams series 6

Jason Nelson, The Poetry Cube

for 7/30 (members of group 4 initiate discussion):

John Cayley, windsound
http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/cayley__windsound.html or http://www.shadoof.net/in/windsound.html

Marko Niemi, Stud Poetry

for 7/31 (members of group 1 initiate discussion):

Deena Larsen, "Carving in Possibilities" http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/larsen__carving_in_possibilities.html

Reiner Strasser and M.D. Coverley: "ii — in the white darkness: about [the fragility of] memory"

for 8/1 (members of group 2 initiate discussion):

M.D. Coverly, "Accounts of the Glass Sky"

Mary Flanagan: " [theHouse]"

for 8/2 (members of group 3 initiate discussion):

geniwaite, " Rice"

Aya Karpinska and Daniel C. Howe, "open.ended"

for 8/3 (members of group 4 initiate discussion):

for 8/4 (anyone may initiate discussion):

Neil Hennessey, Bassho's Frogger

*note*: please consider the following haiku before looking at Hennessey's work:

An old pond
A frog jumps in
The sound of water

Optional reading: Lucio Agra,
http://www.geocities.com/agraryk/agrindexeng.htm [ review 3 of 5 of the "poems in PPS" section ]
; Maria Mencia, Birds Singing Other Birds Songs
Aya Karpinska, arrival of the beeBox http://www.technekai.com/box/index.html [download and run program or view online]; Kenneth Goldsmith, " Soliloquy" http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/goldsmith__soliloquy.html; Jim Andrews, Nio

WebCT contributions and summary

WEEK 5 (begins 8/4)

Work on Final Paper/Project

WebCT wrap-up

All work for course is due August 7


The NJIT Honor Code will be upheld in this course, and that any violations will be brought to the immediate attention of the Dean of Students.

graphic image at top: "The Birth of God" by Lionel Kearns