Course Code: ENG287H1-F LEC0101
Lecture time: Asynchronous video lectures
Lecture location: Posted on Quercus
Instructor: Prof. Adam Hammond
Office Hours: Mondays, noon-2pm (via Zoom, scheduled on Quercus; see “Office Hours” announcement on course Quercus page)
In this course, you will watch weekly asynchronous video lectures and then attend one one-hour tutorial session per week. Tutorials will take place on Zoom.
|0101||Wed, 2-3pm||Online||A. Atiya|
|0102||Wed, 2-3pm||Online||C. Chang|
|0103||Wed, 2-3pm||Online||M. Harris|
|0104||Wed, 2-3pm||Online||G. Hassell|
|0105||Wed, 2-3pm||Online||R. Stafford|
|0201||Wed, 3-4pm||Online||A. Atiya|
|0202||Wed, 3-4pm||Online||C. Chang|
|0203||Wed, 3-4pm||Online||M. Harris|
|0204||Wed, 3-4pm||Online||G. Hassell|
|0205||Wed, 3-4pm||Online||R. Stafford|
This course offers a practical and theoretical introduction to the new creative and interpretive possibilities opened up by digital forms of literature. Reading novels, graphic novels, short stories, videogames, and media theory by writers such as Jennifer Egan, Dash Shaw, Jorge Luis Borges, Porpentine, and Marshall McLuhan, we will ask what is at stake in the shift from print to digital forms. Engaging with digital libraries and computational techniques in literary analysis, we will ask what new insights we can gain into literature once it is digitized. Is the digital age making literature more accessible, more inclusive, and more interactive? Or will the digital age, with its many multimedia distractions, make literature obsolete?
Students will gain hands-on experience with tools and techniques for analyzing and producing digital literary texts. Students will submit their second assignment and final essays in “interactive” digital form using the Twine platform.
In this course you will:
- Become familiar with the major contemporary debates (social, political, aesthetic) concerning the fate of literature in the digital age
- Investigate the new research questions that we can ask of digitized texts using computational textual analysis
- Explore digital theory and several genres of born-digital fiction
- Learn how the advent of the digital is affecting more traditional print-based literary genres
- Learn the rudiments of Twine, HTML, and CSS
- Write a final essay in which the digital medium is a crucial element of your argument
The following required texts can be purchased from any source, in physical or electronic format. Recommended editions are listed by ISBN number below, but any edition is fine.
- The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan (Gingko, ISBN 1584230703)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Anchor, ISBN 0307477479)
- The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya (ECW, ISBN 1770415254)
The following books are recommended:
- BodyWorld by Dash Shaw (Pantheon, ISBN 030737842X)
- Literature in the Digital Age: An Introduction by Adam Hammond (Cambridge, ISBN 1107615070, available via U of T Libraries here)
The following required videogames can be purchased from Steam (for multiple platforms, including Windows and Mac desktops/laptops) and/or the Apple App Store (for iPhones), and/or, through the links below, for other platforms (Android devices, various gaming consoles), too.
- The Stanley Parable (Galactic Cafe)
- Sword and Sworcery (Superbrothers, Capy, Jim Guthrie) NB: Sworcery requires a full lunar month to complete properly. Start early!
Additional readings will be posted in Quercus.
Week 1: Is Literature Dying in the Digital Age? (No tutorial)
- Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (magazine article)
- Clay Shirky, “Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr”
- Nicholas Carr, “Why Skepticism is Good: My Reply to Clay Shirky”
- Sven Birkerts, “A Know-Nothing’s Defense of Serious Reading & Culture: A Reply to Clay Shirky”
- Clay Shirky, “Why Abundance Should Breed Optimism: A Second Reply to Nick Carr” (the above are all short blog posts)
- Hammond, Literature in the Digital Age (henceforth: LitDA) chapter 1 (recommended)
Week 2: The Medium and the M[e]ssage (Tut: Sep 23)
- Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (content warning: racism)
- LitDA chapter 2 (recommended)
Week 3: The Universal Library (Tut: Sep 30)
- H. G. Wells, “World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopedia” (article)
- Virginia Woolf, excerpt from A Room of One’s Own (on Quercus)
- Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel” (short story; on Quercus)
- LitDA chapter 3 (recommended)
Week 4: Computational Literary Analysis and TTRs (Tut: Oct 7)
- Voyant Tools
- Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg Australia
- TTR Comparison Tool
- Google Books Ngram Viewer
- Sublime Text (plain text editing software)
- LitDA pp. 82-119 (recommended)
Week 5: Rescuing Texts that Weren’t Happy as Books (Tut: Oct 14)
- William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in illuminated printing at The Blake Archive (text-only version here — let it load, then select “Go to page” 33 in the upper left)
- T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land as an iPad app; in HTML at Representative Poetry Online; and in genre-bending form at He Do the Police in Different Voices.
- LitDA chapter 4 (recommended)
Week 6: Digital Texts in the Communications Circuit (Tut: Oct 21)
- Dash Shaw, BodyWorld (web comic; content warning: violence, blood): Prelude, Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. (You may also want to purchase the printed book version.)
- LitDA chapter 6 (recommended)
- Assignment #1 due
Week 7: Interactivity — and Introduction to Twine (Tut: Oct 28)
- Emily Short, Galatea (interactive fiction; hit enter to start playing; then type “help” if you get stuck)
- Davey Wreden, The Stanley Parable (videogame)
- LitDA chapter 7, pp. 154-163. (recommended)
- My incredibly stupid Twine game, Boston 2.0 (just designed to show you what Twine is and how it works)
- My Total Beginner’s Guide to Twine (optional)
Week 8: Hypertext and Twine (Tut: Nov 4)
- Zoe Quinn, Depression Quest (Twine game). (Content warning: self-harm and suicide, mental illness)
- Porpentine, With Those We Love Alive (Twine game). (Content warning: transphobia, body hatred)
- Laura Hudson, “Twine: The Videogame Technology for All” (newspaper article; it’s on Quercus if you’re out of NYT articles)
- Anna Anthropy, “The Problem with Videogames” (on Quercus)
Week 9: Indie Games and Multimedia (Tut: Nov 18)
- Superbrothers, Capy Games, Jim Guthrie, Sword and Sworcery (videogame)
- Assignment #2 due
Week 10: Can Analogue Fiction Be Digital? (I) (Tut: Nov 25)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. (Content warning: homophobia.)
Week 11: Can Analogue Fiction Be Digital? (II) (Tut: Dec 2)
- Goon Squad continued
- “Great Rock and Roll Pauses,” multimedia slideshow on Egan’s website (optional)
- Jennifer Egan, Black Box (Twitter novel). (Content warning: violence, sexual assault.)
Week 12: Can Analogue Fiction Be Digital? (III) (No tutorial)
- Vivek Shraya, The Subtweet
- Final Essay due in tutorial
Your final grade will be based on the following:
- Assignment #1: Computational Analysis (20%)
- Assignment #2: Creative Intervention (20%)
- Final Essay (35%)
- Participation in Tutorial (25%)
All late assignments will be reduced 3% per day, including weekends. Assignments will not be accepted more than one week after the due date. All assignments are due through the course’s Quercus page, which can be accessed at q.utoronto.ca.
Active participation in tutorial is necessary. Students are expected to contribute constructively to discussion in each tutorial session.
Participation will take the following forms. In advance of your weekly tutorial (by Monday at midnight each tutorial week), you will write a 150-250-word response to the weekly lecture. You will do so on your tutorial group’s discussion forum on Quercus. These responses will be visible to other members of your tutorial groups and will be the basis of discussion in the Zoom tutorials. You will be expected to make one contribution (verbal or written in the chat window) to each Zoom tutorial session; if you do not, your contribution can take the form of a written reply to another student’s comment on the Quercus discussion forum (no later than end of day, day of tutorial).
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Accessibility Services at (416) 978 8060; accessibility.utoronto.ca.
The University of Toronto treats cases of academic misconduct very seriously. Academic integrity is a fundamental value of learning and scholarship at the UofT. Participating honestly, respectfully, responsibly, and fairly in this academic community ensures that your UofT degree is valued and respected as a true signifier of your individual academic achievement.
The University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters outlines the behaviours that constitute academic misconduct, the processes for addressing academic offences, and the penalties that may be imposed. You are expected to be familiar with the contents of this document. Potential offences include, but are not limited to the following.
In papers and assignments:
- Using someone else’s ideas or words without appropriate acknowledgement
- Submitting your own work in more than one course without the permission of the instructor
- Making up sources or facts.
- Obtaining or providing unauthorized assistance on any assignment (this includes working in groups on assignments that are supposed to be individual work)
On tests and exams:
- Using or possessing any unauthorized aid, including a cell phone
- Looking at someone else’s answers
- Letting someone else look at your answers
- Misrepresenting your identity
- Submitting an altered test for re-grading
- Falsifying or altering any documentation required by the University, including (but not limited to) doctor’s notes
- Falsifying institutional documents or grades
All suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be investigated following the procedures outlined in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. If you have any questions about what is or is not permitted in this course, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you have questions about appropriate research and citation methods, you are expected to seek out additional information from me or other available campus resources like the College Writing Centres, the Academic Success Centre, or the U of T Writing Website.
My preferred method of contact is via e-mail. I will respond to e-mails within 24 hours, though I generally will not respond to e-mails sent on weekends until the following Monday.
This syllabus is subject to change. Because of this, you are encouraged to consult this web page throughout the year, rather than printing it off.
Your remaining in this class constitutes acceptance of the conditions outlined in this syllabus.
Please be aware that we will discuss sensitive issues in the course, related to topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and politics. I have made my best offers to flag potentially sensitive content in the Content Warnings in the syllabus; please contact me if you have any particular concerns.