Spring 2005/ English 597: Special Topics
Literature on the Web

This experimental course will examine how the internet, the digitizing and electronic archiving of texts, and new technologies are transforming the way we read, write, and respond to literature. We will attend to the historical, social, political, and cultural implications of emerging textualities as we focus on hypertexting, textual intervention, and immersive mediums. To explore these approaches we will create new texts and text-based virtual reality environments, published on WMU homepages and Secondary World MOO. Our materials will including on-line syllabi, hypertext novels, cyberpunk fiction, archives, ezines, electronic games, web publishing, MOOs, blogs and so on.

The class was designed to be taught in the English Department's wireless, laptop classroom.' Literature on the Web' should appeal to students who are already interested in technology as well as to students who have little or no experience in this area but who are intrigued by literature and new approaches to studying and teaching it.

This class should engage student interest, creativity, and deepen understanding of literature and culture. As an experimental class it calls for unusual flexibility, independence, dedication, and creativity. Attendance and class participation are essential; missing more than four classes may lead to failing the class. If this or other classes cause stress, Literature on the Web provides free on-line therapy -- talk to Eliza!


Jackson, Shelly. The Patchwork Girl
Gibson, William. Neuromancer.
Murray, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace.
Essays in packet.
On-line essays, web sites, literary works, magazines, journals, and archives.

McGann, Jerome. Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web.
Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature.
Landow, George. Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Theory and Technology.
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Pat Harrington. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Lev Manovich. The New Media Reader


Class Participation (25%)
Hypertext Reading Assignment (15%)
Hypertext Writing Assignment (15%)
Textual Intervention Assignment (15%)
MOO Literary Environment (30%)

Provisional Syllabus

Jan. 5, Wed.

Introduction to the Class

Jan. 10, Mon. History of the Present
Read: "Origin of World Literature" from Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels; from Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson; "Cyberspace" from CyberReader by Benjamin Wooley; and, "Bitmapping" from Interface Culture by Steven Johnson
Write: Drawing on these texts and your own knowledge, how do you think the emergence of the internet will effect the way people think and understand the world?
Jan. 12, Wed.


Read: The Garden of Forking Paths Jorge Luis Borges (1941); As We May Think Vannevar Bush (1945); "Hypertext and Intertextuality" George Landow (1992)
Extend: Study Questions, The Modern World, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Theory and Technology George Landow (1992)

Jan. 17, Mon. MLK DAY
Jan. 19, Wed.
Hypertext Fiction
Hypertext Reading Assignment.

Jan. 19, Wed.

4-5:30 "Teaching About MLK," Sangren Hall 2304
Jan. 24, Mon.
Jan. 26, Wed.
Read: The Patchwork Girl Shelly Jackson
Extend: Frankenstein (Electronic Text Center), Georgetown Resources, National Institute of Health, Mary Shelly, Storyspace, Comments on The Patchwork Girl, Hayles' Essay, Patchwork Girl of Oz.
Write: Notes on reading The Patchwork Girl
Jan. 31, Mon.
Feb. 2, Wed.

On-line Literary Archives
Read from Radiant Textuality, Introduction, Chap. 2 "The Rationale of Hypertext,"
Closely study three literary archives. Choose two from the list and find another on your own. Prepare a presentation for the class about one of the archives. What does it contain? How does it work? Strengths and weaknesses?

Feb. 7, Mon.
Feb. 9, Wed.

Hypertext Workshop
Hypertext Writing Assignment: Create your own hypertexted literary work, or portion of a literary work. Use texts and/or images. Try to make your approach interesting and meaningful. Due: Feb. 14 (Post on your own homepages website.)

Feb. 14, Mon. Textual Intervention
Read Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies by Rob Pope, Chapter 1 (handout)
Feb. 16, Wed. Tour some new archives. Brainstorm some textual intervention possibilities.

Feb. 21, Mon.
Feb. 23. Wed.

Textual Intervention workshop
Textual Intervention Project: Create your own "textual intervtion" and write at least a paragraph about how this intervention effects the meaning of the source text. Due: Mar. 7 (Post on your own homepages website.)
Feb. 28 - Mar. 4 Spring Break
Mar. 7, Mon. Immersive Environments
Read: The Library of Babel by Borges, Essays: The Dream of Cyberspace, The Library of Babel and the Internet
Examine: Design Images, Atlas of Cyberspace
Mar. 9, Wed. Imagining the Future
Read: Neuromancer, by William Gibson
Neuromancer Study Guide
Mar. 14, Mon.

Future of Narrative?
Hamlet on the Holodeck, chapters 1-6

Mar. 16, Wed.
Read: Finish Hamlet on the Holodeck
Mar. 21, Mon.

Mar. 23, Wed.
Mar. 28, Mon.

Immerse Yourself in MOOS and MUDS
Beginner's Guide to MOOing, Mud Connect, Rachel's Super MOO List, Rachel's Super MOO List: Educational MOOs, Lingua MOO, Triad City, Secondary Worlds MOO, Reading about literary MOOs. Exploration of literary MOOs. Designing and building a text based literary MOO of your own in the Secondary Worlds server space. Come to class ready to share MOO experiences and evaluation.

Mar. 30, Wed.

Imagine Your Own Literary MOO
Bring to class a couple of pages of ideas about a literary MOO you would like to create.

Apr. 4, Mon.
Apr. 6, Wed.
Apr.11, Mon.
Apr.13, Wed.

Build Your Own MOO: Workshop
Additional reading to be announced.

Apr. 21, Thu. 12:30-2:30 Final Exam
MOO Exploration

Student Work

David Gardner
Joe Haughey, "ExperienceShakespeare.Org"
Todd Ide
Samantha Mckenzie
Josh Neimier
Marilyn Williams, "Elizabeth's Story," "This is Just to Say"

Additional On-line Resources

Electronic Labryinth A resource for writers, good background.
Resource Center for Cybercultural Studies
The Association of Internet Researchers
Short History of the Internet by Bruce Sterling
Literature Resources-Hypertext by Jack Lynch, Rutgers Newark

Other "Literature on the Web" Courses

Literature and Hypertext Carolyn Guertin, Athabasca University
Internet Studies Derek Stanovsky, Appalachian State University
Cyberculture Brian Alexander, Centenary College of Louisiana
Cybertext Ian Lancashire, University of Toronto
Hypertext Fiction and Theory, Rita Raley, University of Minnesota
The Computer and the Text Jason Rhody, University of Maryland
Advanced Hypertext Fiction Robert Arellano, Brown University
Hypertext Literature and Theory Len Hatfield, Virginia Tech
Imagining the Internet Jillana Enteen, University of Central Florida
Hypertext Reading and Writing David Miall, University of Alberta
Hamlet in Hyperspace David Soloman, University of Connecticut

Previous Student Work

Pamela Olmstead, Amanda Warren, Andre Torrez.