Blog Post 14: Exam Review

Hi everyone,

As promised, here’s a thread post with some exam review work to do for our last class Tuesday. For your post, you should post one mock essay question or topic to the comments of this thread. These should be questions that ask you to synthesize material and ideas from various texts, authors, and issues over the course — think of how some of the common threads of our conversations might appear across different texts and authors and how you might think about them connectively and comparatively.

Since this is a short assignment at a busy time of the semester, you’ll get a full credit 4 as long as you post something substantive by midnight on Monday, December 9. This should be a good way to jumpstart and/or focus your exam review, and who knows, some of your material may show up on the actual final…

Blog Post 13: Page and Screen and In Between

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re having a good break so far — here’s a blog post to start our thinking about Borsuk’s Between Page and Screen, our last text of the semester. Once you’ve gotten the book from the Skid Shop or elsewhere, you should read it in full for Tuesday, starting here (make sure to install Flash before starting — the site may prompt you to do this).

Between Page and Screen asks us to think between paper and digital textuality—if our first section of the course focused on “extreme books,” this is another extreme book that is inseparable from the screen. And in order to think about that relation, we have to look carefully, both literally and figuratively, at all of the elements that make up the piece.

So for this blog post, you should spend some time closely analyzing the relations between the different elements of this piece, tracing how they work together and what larger meanings that interconnection suggests: what seems important or significant about this book itself as an object? What, if anything, can we say about the images inside it? What’s the experience of holding those up to your screen like, beyond simply strange and new—what does it mean to enter into the process of the book that way? What pieces of the computer and the web come into play through that, and what’s significant about those pieces? What does it mean to read a book this way? And last but certainly not least, how does the narrative that develops as a result of this process reflect and respond to that process, in form and in content—what’s important about this story, and what’s the importance of presenting it this way?

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, December 2nd. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 12: Re: Pry

Hi everyone,

Here’s a thread for our last day with Pry this coming Tuesday. As I suggested at the end of class yesterday, this post follows in the spirit of the questions we wrote then, in a little more developed fashion. For this post, you should pose two interpretive questions, or clusters of questions, that emerge for you from your reading for Tuesday (mark these in ALL CAPS in your post). Rather than being oriented towards reading-comprehension-type thinking or explaining things at the level of plot, your questions should be open-ended, speculative, and analytical — they should point us towards the larger questions and issues this text raises.  Although you might think about how you’d answer the questions you pose, they should be questions you can’t answer easily or simply.

While what you raise can address the text as a whole, it should be rooted in the last chapters that we’re reading for Tuesday, and grounded in some close textual analysis of that section. For each question, you should say a little about what’s at stake in it for you, and what you see the importance of that question being. We’ll look at some of these in class Tuesday as a way of thinking about the text as a whole, the question of interface, and what it means for us as readers of literature in the digital age.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, November 25th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 11: Prying Open the Screen

Hi everyone,

Here’s a thread for our first day discussing the prologue and first three chapters of Pry this coming Tuesday. Like many of our texts so far, Pry is self-consciously thinking about its technological form as a way of thinking about its narrative content and thematic issues — this is a text that both uses touch and the interface and reflects on how those forces shape its larger meanings.

So for this first day with the text, you should focus on one specific formal/textual effect that seems particularly significant to you in narrative, technological, thematic, and/or cultural terms. Similar to some of our early posts with House of Leaves, think of this post as a way for us as a class to catalog the ways this texts works and what’s important about those working in a larger context. Your effect can be something that occurs just once, or something that appears multiple times—just be specific in citing, describing, and locating what you choose to write about, so that we can all make sure we know what you’re referring to.Image result for mouse link icon

In your post, you should discuss what your chosen technique does within the text: what larger effect does it have on the narrative? What effect does it have on the experience of reading? How do we have to read differently in response to your chosen technique, and what does it seem to suggest about the text as a whole so far, about interface, about mobile technology more broadly? There’s lots to discuss here (to say the least), so if possible, try not to reiterate what people who have posted before you have covered or said.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, November 18th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

 

 

 

Blog Post 10: The Heart of Narrative

Hi everyone,

Nice discussion of Bandersnatch and Netflix yesterday! Our thinking there sets us up well to continue exploring how different forms of digital narrative allow us to think about larger questions of literature, culture, and politics, all of which play major roles in our text for next week, Doki Doki Literature Club! (as I mentioned yesterday, there’s a fair amount of violence, self-harm, and suicide in this text; if that’s an issue for you, be careful and don’t hesitate to talk to me if you’re not comfortable).

There’s lots to think about in this text that builds on and expands the issues we’ve been looking at: questions of narrative form and interactivity; questions of self-reflexivity and how digital texts reflect on literature, gaming, and technology more broadly; and questions of how these new forms relate to issues of control, power, and representation, to name just a few, as well as many more.

So for this week’s post you’re welcome to pursue thinking about this text in any way that seems important to you, as long as you ground your writing in close analytical engagement with some specifics of its text, visuality, interface, or some other specific element of its working. With an eye towards the second paper (which we’ll discuss more soon), I’d also encourage everyone to try and frame their post in terms of making a specific larger claim about what this work does — try to go beyond describing its workings and your reactions to them to say more about what’s at stake in those workings on a larger scale.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, November 11th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 9: Down the Rabbit Hole…

Hi everyone,

Next week we continue our discussion of digital narrative with Bandersnatch, the interactive episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror anthology series. Bandersnatch takes advantage of digital technology in different ways from Her Story, producing a different set of narrative structures and effects that raise different thematic and cultural questions.

So in preparation for our first day with this text, let’s use this blog post to start thinking about how these differences work and what difference they make. In your post, you should do some concrete analytical thinking about the interactive form of the text and what’s significant about it — how does it work, and what’s important about that in larger terms? As you think and write about this, try to be as specific and concrete as possible in your analysis: rather than just talking about interactivity as a general concept, focus on a specific moment or effect, and reflect on how it shapes the narrative of the text, our experience of it, or the larger issues and themes it raises.

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Happy reading/playing/writing — see you Tuesday!

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, November 4th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 8: Narrative, Interaction, Database

Hi everyone,

Hi everyone,

Happy Study Day! Here’s a thread for some open-ended thinking and writing about Her Story (click that link and follow the link to purchase if you haven’t done so yet). Feel free to follow your interests in what you write about, with two qualifications: first, make sure that you cite and discuss the work closely and directly in whatever you address, pointing to specific moments, clips, or other elements. Second, your post should address both the form of this work and the ways that form relates to its narrative and thematic content — how do things like the work’s organization, interface, interactivity, sound and image, etc., change how we read it, and how do they relate to thematic issues (gender, mystery, identity, etc., to name a few without giving spoilers)?

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, October 28th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 7: Information Politics

Hi all,

As I mentioned at the end of class today, the question of identity and humanness within a culture of information that we discussed in relation to “Beacon” has political dimensions as well, which both Scourti and Abel take up in rigorous ways through different formal and technological means (as you read Abel and the article on his work, be aware that it raises some questions of anti-indigenous violence and prejudice). We’ll look at both of these pieces on Tuesday, so let’s use this blog post to start thinking about them together along these lines.

In your post, you should do some thinking and writing about how each of these creators engages political questions through digital form. What is each author saying about issues of gender, embodiment, consumerism, ethnicity, violence, genocide, etc., and how are they using form and technology to address those issues? In your post, you should discuss the work of both creators in specific terms, and you’re free and encouraged to use material from the interview with Scourti and/or the essay on Abel as well if they’re relevant to your thinking.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, October 21st. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 6: Heavy Text, Heavy Images

Hi everyone,

On Tuesday, we’ll move away from the print space of the page to discuss our first set of born-digital literary material, a series of works by the electronic literature collective Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries.

We’ll discuss four pieces by Heavy Industries, as listed on the syllabus — these are each relatively short, but dense in terms of text, sound, and visual material, so you should watch each one at least twice, pausing to take notes and screenshots where you notice significant things. You should send me at least two screenshots of key moments that we might discuss — I’ll send out a class email to respond to momentarily. Here are specific links to each piece:

And if you’re not familiar with how to take screenshots on a full-size computer, here are useful overviews for Macs and PCs.

Heavy Industries’ work exists across genres — it’s possible to think of this material as literature, art, and film, among other things. So as we start to think about how to situate their work in our next section of the course on “Text, Data, and Information,” we’ll want to think about some of our underlying questions of what it means to read and write in a digital age in new ways.

Image result for young hae chang heavy industries

To start this thinking, for this blog post, you should raise and discuss two specific interpretive questions in reference to your screenshots that we might take up in relation to this material (similar to what we did in our last House of Leaves post). One of your questions should focus on the form of this work — how do these pieces work? What do we have to do to read them, and what larger issues does that raise? What seems important in technological, aesthetic terms? — and one should focus on content and thematics — what issues are these pieces taking up, and what do they seem to be saying about them? You should ground your discussions of these questions in some close textual analysis of these pieces through your screenshots (although your discussion might certainly go beyond “text” in the most traditional sense of the word).

Happy reading/watching/writing, and don’t forget to turn in your Annotation materials by 11:59pm Sunday!

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, October 14th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

Blog Post 5: Pages about Pages

Hi all,

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Our three readings for Tuesday give us a range of historical, philosophical, and visual ways to understand the page as a unit of textual meaning in relation to House of Leaves, but also more broadly with regard to how literature might work as a physical, material form, particularly in a moment of technological change. 

So this blog post is a chance to start thinking about that question and bringing it to bear on our course material. What seems important to you about how Mak, Manguel, and Drucker understand the meaning and status of the page, and why? You’re free to take up this material in whatever way seems most significant and interesting to you, with the  guiding constraint that once you’ve read all three pieces, your post should engage with close textual analysis of at least two of them, quoting and engaging with their language directly. Rather than writing two disconnected mini-posts, try to put the ideas you draw from each essay in dialogue in some way. You don’t have to link what you discuss to House of Leaves in a direct, explicit way, but you might, and we’ll certainly think in that direction in class with an eye towards the annotation assignment.

Reminder: Your writing should go in the comments section for this post — click either on the link near the bottom of this post where it says “Leave a Reply” or towards the top where it says “Leave a Comment.” It should be at least 250-300 words, and is due by midnight Monday, October 7. If you have any questions, let me know via email.