ENGL 2130, University of Guelph (Fall 2014)

Current Notices

  • This course is now completed, though I will leave the instructions for Assignment #2 in place if you wish to revisit them, or for anyone contemplating a similar assignment.
  • Review the Annotation Guidelines carefully.
  • Download and install Oxygen XML Editor, choosing the free 30-day trial option.
  • Download bondstreet.xml by right-clicking the link (option-clicking on a Mac) and choosing “Download linked file as…” (or equivalent, such as “Save link as…”).
  • Upload your tagged files to the Submission Page. You can modify your tagging and re-submit as often as you like up to November 10th; only the most recent submission is saved.
  • If you have misplaced the assignment instruction sheet or your tagging assignment, click away.

Course Description

Ours is the first generation to study literature in the digital age. E-books are outselling paperbacks; online scholarly databases are superseding library stacks; new works are being composed, distributed, and consumed electronically. How fundamental is this shift toward digitization? How does it affect the nature of the literary text, and how does it impact our work as readers and critics?

This course explores the interpretive possibilities opened up by the proliferation of digital literary texts. We will use computer-assisted analysis and visualization to ask new questions about literature and to provide statistical grounds for answers to older questions—and we will learn how to integrate our findings meaningfully into our writing. By studying the technical foundations for the production of digital texts, and by collaborating in the production of a “class-sourced” electronic edition, we will learn how the encoding of literary texts affects the questions we can ask of them. By analyzing digital-born fiction—works that involve the reader directly through elements of gaming and interactivity—we will question how such texts alter the role of the interpreter and affect the task of interpretation.

Students will gain hands-on experience with and develop skills in quantitative textual analysis and text encoding with TEI. No programming experience is required.

Required Books

Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage (Gingko) is available from the University of Guelph Bookstore.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery is available for multiple platforms (iOS; Android; Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs.) Links and instructions can be found at www.swordandsworcery.com

Gone Home is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs. Links and instructions can be found at www.gonehomegame.com

All other texts are available online or through Courselink. (Links from syllabus below.)


Sep. 5 Introduction
Sep. 8 Is Literature Dying in the Digital Age?

Sep. 10
Sep. 12
  • Cont’d.
Sep. 15 Medium Shifts

  • Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage
Sep. 17
  • The Medium is the Massage
Sep. 19
  • The Medium is the Massage
Sep. 22 Computer-Assisted Textual Analysis

Sep. 24
  • Cont’d.
Sep. 26
Sep. 29 Rescuing Texts That Weren’t Happy As Printed Books

Oct. 1
Oct. 3 Group Seminar #1

Oct. 6 The Universal Library

Oct. 8
Oct. 10 Group Seminar #2

  • Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel” (on Courselink)
  • Virginia Woolf, excerpt from A Room of One’s Own (on Courselink)
Oct. 13 Holiday: No class.
Oct. 15 Introduction to Our Class Project

  • Virginia Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” (on Courselink)
  • Erich Auerbach, “The Brown Stocking,” Mimesis (optional; on Courselink)

Assignment #1 Due

Oct. 17
  • Cont’d
Oct. 20 The Technical Side of Our Class Project: TEI

  • Andriaan van der Weel, excerpt from Changing our Textual Minds (on Courselink)
  • TEI By Example, Tutorials 0123
Oct. 22
  • Cont’d
Oct. 24
Oct. 27 Born-Digital Fiction: Production

Oct. 29
Oct. 31
Nov. 3 Born-Digital Fiction: Interactivity

Nov. 5
  • Lucy Hardin
Nov. 7 No class.
Nov. 10 Group Seminar #4

  • Emily Short, Galatea (scroll down on linked page)

Assignment #2 Due

Nov. 12 Born-Digital Fiction: Multimedia

Nov. 14 Group Seminar #5

Nov. 17 The (Indie) Video Game

Nov. 19
  • Sword and Sworcery
Nov. 21 Group Seminar #6

  • Leonard Shlain, “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess” (two-page summary on Courselink)
  • Sword and Sworcery
Nov. 24 Videogames and the Future of Narrative

Nov. 26
  • Gone Home
Nov. 28
  • Gone Home

Essay Due.


Participation: 10%
Assignment #1 (Text Analysis): 15%
Assignment #2 (Text Encoding): 15%
Group Seminar Oral Presentation: 10%
Group Seminar Written Submission: 15%
Final Essay: 35%

Late Policy

All assignments and papers are due in class on the day indicated. They will be accepted up until one week after the due date, with an automatic deduction of three percentage points per day, up to a maximum of 21%. Work will not be accepted beyond a week after the due date except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Any paper submitted over the weekend will be counted as submitted the following Monday and deductions will be calculated accordingly.