Electronic Literature Senior Seminar Fall 2020

Prof. Chris Funkhouser funkhous@njit.edu

Office Hours (Webex): by appointment.


Course begins September 2

If you have never used Canvas before, please review the NJIT Canvas tutorials for students via https://canvas.njit.edu/getting-started-canvas-students. Please familiarize yourself with the system; we will use it intensively for Discussions and other forms of communication (e.g., Announcements, Grading). We will not meet online, in real time, except on one one occasion: in November I plan to coordinate a "netprov" at a time convenient for everyone enrolled in the course (date to be determined/announced; I will query everyone about this at the semester's outset).

Although the subject is Electronic Literature, this is primarily a writing-based course. Most of your final grade will be determined on the quality of responses written about content presented in the class. While we are all accustomed to speaking more casually online, please keep in mind that the substance and perspective reflected in your postings are crucial to your success. For many reasons (i.e., best results), I recommend writing your response to each work using Microsoft Word (or Google Docs, or another writing tool), and editing them before posting to the Canvas Discussion about the work. Once you have made a formal posting to each Discussion section (for grading purposes, as explained below), your follow-up and any subsequent dialog responses may be written less rigidly.

The syllabus for this course is incrementally presented, on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, in order to keep you focused on work required at the time. If for some reason you need to see details of the entire semester, please let me know. —cf

Syllabus (obviously) is subject to change. Notification of any major revisions will be posted on Canvas.


Course textbook:

Electronic Literature, Scott Rettberg (Polity, 2019). Print and electronic versions available via https://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9781509516773

Course work:

Reading / Reviewing assignments (65 points):

In essence, there will be one graded assignments each week until Thanksgiving (these assignments transpire on Canvas as Discussions).

For each of these thirteen assignments, you will initially prepare a thoughtful, detailed written summary of the experience of encountering the work(s) and post it in the appropriate course Discussion section (worth up to 4 points each). These writings are due during the stated assignment dates (and must be submitted during that week to receive credit). In responding, you should succinctly describe what you perceive about each work, including specific textual (&/or media) details, and for creative works discussing any special process(es)/methods you used to interact with the content and how the experience affected you. I am interested in hearing about strategies you develop to approach the work, as well as insights on the material.

In addition to each of the initial posts you make about a work (4 points, see above), you are required to respond to at least one other post (by someone else) in each Discussion section (worth 1 point). Thus, each Online Reading assignment is worth 5 points overall. Each initial (4 point) response must be a page (250 words) in length; your secondary (1 point) response posts should focus on work not addressed in the main post, and must also contain substance (e.g, you shouldn't reply by saying, "I liked it too" without elaborating your viewpoint), though need not be a full page. Once a Discussion on a topic is started, it will be open for the remainder of the course. As explained above, postings should be made during the posted dates of the assignment (i.e., right away) and must be made within a week from the assignment date in order for you to receive a grade on the assignment. The idea here is to generate discussion about the Electronic Literature we are reviewing.

Notes: Responses should be direct (i.e., concise), and include specific details from the material under review. In order to strengthen the point-of-view you are articulating in your initial response, and receive the highest grade, you must use specific textual examples from the work (or works) you are discussing (you may not end up writing about every piece that appears on the syllabus, but should be addressing at least two of the creative texts for each Assignment). Try to make historical and aesthetic connections between works of Electronic Literature and other expressive forms whenever possible (including books, movies, apps, games, etc.). The more solid your observations are and the more you participate (and meet the above stated expectations) in the Discussions, the higher your marks will be. Online log/discussion postings should be used to raise issues and ask questions about the work, as well as to develop dialogs about matters relating to the material.

Everyone is required to review materials presented on the syllabus and Canvas, and participate frequently in the course; there will be 13 total reading/response assignments, each worth 5 points.

Course Project (35 points):

Each student will prepare a project; the final interval of class is devoted to it (more instructions will follow, on Canvas). Preparing an original WWW-based (or other) creative project is one option (such projects could include, though are not limited to, making hypertext narratives, animations, or other types of coded works); such projects must be accompanied by an explanatory project statement. Other project options, involving the production of algorithmic writing, will be provided and announced in November. Proposals will be due 11/30 (or before). PROJECT DUE DATE IS DECEMBER 10.


Module 1: Genres of Electronic Literature / Combinatory Poetics

9/2 Class orientation / student introductions (posted to Canvas)

Week One: 9/3 - 9/10

Assignment 1: Read Rettberg, Chapters 1 & 2, Electronic Literature. Post responses to Assignment 1 section (in Discussions) on Canvas. Due 9/10 and must be submitted by 9/17 at latest.

Week Two: 9/11 - 9/17

Assignment 2: Review MEMORY SLAM titles, Love Letters (Strachey, https://nickm.com/memslam/love_letters.html), Stochastic Text (Lutz, https://nickm.com/memslam/stochastic_texts.html), House of Dust (Knowles, https://nickm.com/memslam/a_house_of_dust.html); House of Trust (Hatcher/Strickland, http://www.house-of-trust.org/); Cent mille millards de poèmes (Queneau, http://www.bevrowe.info/Queneau/QueneauRandom_v5.html). Post responses to Assignment 2 section on Canvas. Due 9/17 and must be submitted by 9/24 at latest.

Week Three: 9/18 - 9/24

Assignment 3: Review Stir Fry Texts (Andrews, http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/andrews__stir_fry_texts.html); Taroko Gorge [& remixes] (Montfort, et al.), http://collection.eliterature.org/3/collection-taroko.html); Sea and Spar Between (Montfort and Strickland, https://nickm.com/montfort_strickland/sea_and_spar_between/); Evolution (Heldén and Jonson, http://www.textevolution.net/); Pentametron (Bhatnagar, http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=pentametron). Post responses to Canvas. Due 9/24 and must be submitted by 10/1.

Module 2: Hypertext Fiction

9/25 - 10/1

Assignment 4: Read Rettberg, Chapter 3, Electronic Literature. Post responses to Assignment 4 section on Canvas. Due 10/1 and must be posted by 10/8.

10/2 - 10/8

Assignment 5: Review my body — a Wunderkammer (Jackson, http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/jackson__my_body_a_wunderkammer.html); The Unknown (Rettberg, et al., http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/rettberg_theunknown.html); 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the Left Hand) (Clark, http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/clark_wittgenstein.html) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH. Instructions on working with Flash plug-in on Chrome posted on Canvas (in Announcements)]. Post responses to Assignment 5 section on Canvas. Due 10/8 and must be posted by 10/15.

10/9 - 10/15

Assignment 6: Review The Gathering Cloud (Carpenter, http://luckysoap.com/thegatheringcloud/); Queerskins (Szilak, http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=queerskins); Loss of Grasp (Bouchardon, https://bouchard.pers.utc.fr/deprise/home). Post responses to Assignment 6 section on Canvas.

Module 3: Interactive Fiction and Other Gamelike Forms

10/16 - 10/22

Assignment 7: Read Rettberg, Chapter 4, Electronic Literature. Post responses to Assignment 7 section on Canvas.

10/23 - 10/29

Assignment 8: Review Counterfeit Monkey (Short, https://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=aearuuxv83plclpl); Game, game, game and again game (Nelson, http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/nelson_game.html) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH. Instructions on working with Flash plug-in on Chrome posted on Canvas]; With Those We Love Alive (Porpentine, http://slimedaughter.com/games/twine/wtwla/). Post responses to Assignment 8 section on Canvas.

10/30 - 11/5

Assignment 9: Review The Hunt for the Gay Planet (Antropy, http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=hunt-for-the-gay-planet); Quing's Quest (Squinkifer, http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=quings-quest-vii); The Princess Murderer (Larsen & geniwaite, http://www.deenalarsen.net/princess/index.html) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH]. Post responses to Assignment 9 section on Canvas.

Module 4: Kinetic and Interactive Poetry / Network Writing / Divergent Streams

11/6 - 11/12

Assignment 10: Read Rettberg, Chapters 5, 6, 7 Electronic Literature. Post responses to Assignment 10 section on Canvas.

11/13 - 11/19

Assignment 11: Review The Dreamlife of Letters (Stefans, http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/stefans__the_dreamlife_of_letters.html) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH]; Review DAKOTA (Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, https://yhchang.com/DAKOTA.html) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH]; Review Between Page and Screen (Borsuk/Bouse, http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=between-page-and-screen); Review Flight Paths (Pullinger/Joseph, https://flightpaths.net/) [Note: REQUIRES USE OF CHROME / FLASH, or download version for PC]. Post responses to Assignment 11 section on Canvas.

11/20 - 11/26

Assignment 12 [10 Points]: Our class has been invited to participate in a netprov, Moody Locales, organized by Mark Marino and Rob Wittig. Begin by reading the Info sheet (posted on Canvas) and exploring the netprov. You will have to join reddit. Your required engagement with the netprov includes writing/preparing/posting two "Guide Entries"(100-300 words + photo) and four "Reviews"(50-150 words). Please follow the instructions and follow the format requested on the Info sheet. In addition to the Assignment 12 submission section, there will be a Canvas section devoted to discussing exgaging in the netprov in a general way. I strongly advise you to engage with the "Prewriting" prompts on the Info sheet, which will be helpful especially if you are having difficulty with coming up with ideas for your "Guide entries". You must also post a response about the experience of engaging in the netprov to Assignment 12 section on Canvas (be sure the post contains the URLs to your posts on the netprov).

Module 5: Course Project

11/27 - 12/10


1. Prepare an original WWW-based (or other) creative project (could include making hypermedia narratives, multi-path Twine stories, animations, or other types of coded works); such projects must be accompanied by an explanatory project statement.

2. IBM POETRY: Download / read my lecture and the Williams piece on IBM method. Download the IBM Poem template and make two different IBM poems using the process. In addition to creating the poems, compose a 750-1000 word response discussing your impressions of the exercise, and also places this work in the context of Electronic Literature as outlined in Rettberg's book.

3. TAROKO GORGE REMIX: Create your own thematically-based version(s) of Taroko Gorge. In order to accomplish this, you will have to edit the html/javascript code from Montfort's original, and post the files on NJIT's AFS server. I can provide basic instructions on how to do this to students who are interested. In addition to creating and posting your remix, submit a 750-1000 word response discussing your personal experience in creating such a work.

4. Open to others possibilities. If you can think of something else you would like to propose as a project, contact me about it via email before preparing a proposal.

PROJECT PROPOSALS ARE DUE 11/30 (or before); post to Canvas Assignments section.

12/4 - 12/10

Work on Course Project / You can begin working on this once your project proposal has been reviewed and approved.





Academic Integrity is the cornerstone of higher education and is central to the ideals of this course and the university. Cheating is strictly prohibited and devalues the degree that you are working on. As a member of the NJIT community, it is your responsibility to protect your educational investment by knowing and following the academic code of integrity policy that is found at: http://www5.njit.edu/policies/sites/policies/files/academic-integrity-code.pdf.   

Please note that it is my professional obligation and responsibility to report any academic misconduct to the Dean of Students Office. Any student found in violation of the code by cheating, plagiarizing or using any online software inappropriately will result in disciplinary action. This may include a failing grade of F, and/or suspension or dismissal from the university. If you have any questions about the code of Academic Integrity, please contact the Dean of Students Office at dos@njit.edu