Week 6 (September 29 – October 3)

Changing Notions of Literature

“[E]lectronic literature has already produced many works of high literary merit that deserve and demand the close attention and rigorous scrutiny critics have long practiced with print literature. Such close critical attention requires new modes of analysis and new ways of teaching, interpreting, and playing. Most crucial, perhaps, is the necessity to “think digital,” that is, to attend to the specificity of networked and programmable media while still drawing on the rich traditions of print literature and criticism.” – N. Katherine Hayles, Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary, 30

“This knitting circle [the Oulipo, which stands for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Workshop for Potential Literature)] is not primarily about producing texts, however–it is potential literature, not literature, that its members fashion. As François Le Lionnais wrote in the group’s first manifesto, an ordinary literary work is the result of rigorous constraints in ares such as vocabulary and syntax, novelistic or dramatic convention, poetic meter and form, and so forth. The idea of potential literature is to both analyze and synthesize constraints–drawn from current mathematics as well as from older writing techniques that never entered the literary mainstream.” – Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, The New Media Reader, 147

“Pataphysics, Oulipian constraint, and the tradition of thought experiment all gesture toward a critical vanishing point at which the distinctions between art, criticism, and science dissolve. […]. The computer revolutionizes, not because it proposes an alternative to the basic hermeneutical procedure, but because it reimagines that procedure at new scales, with new speeds, and among new sets of conditions. It is for this reason that one can even dare imagine such procedures taking hold in a field like literary criticism.” – Stephan Ramsay, Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism, 31

“To see electronic literature only through the lens of print is, in a significant sense, not to see it at all.” – N. Katherine Hayles, Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary, 3


  • Reading Response post: 10:00 PM, Wed., 1 Oct.
  • Community Response post: 10:00 PM, Sat., 4 Oct.
    • Group 1 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 2.
    • Group 2 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 3.
    • Group 3 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 4.
    • Group 4 will read and respond to the blogs of Group 1.
  • Participation posts (3): During the week.


  • Read lecture posts for the week. The most recent lectures can always be found on the front page for the course or using the Lecture category. Short lectures will be posted throughout the week.
  • Review and begin weekly Participation assignment forum posts.
  • Reading Response and Community Response blog posts (Online Writing Activities).
  • Work on the McLuhan Project. Due 10:00 PM, Oct. 6.
  • Graduate students: Continue working on the Annotated Bibliography assignment. Due: Dec. 2, 10:00 PM.


  • Hayles, N. Katharine. “Electronic Literature: What Is It?” Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P, 2008. 1-42. (Required text)
  • Ramsay, Stephen. “Potential Literature.” Reading Machines: Towards an Algorithmic Criticism. Urbana, IL: U of Illinois P, 2011. 18-31. (Required text.)
  • Montfort, Nick. “Riddle Machines: The History and Nature of Interactive Fiction.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Ed. Susan Schrelbman and Ray Siemens. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
  • Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Garden of Forking Paths.” The New Media Reader. Ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. Cambridge: The MIT P, 2003. 29-34. (pdf in Blackboard)
  • Queneau, Raymond. “A Story as You Like It.” (pdf in Blackboard)
  • Fournel, Paul. “The Theater Tree: A Combinatory Play.” (pdf in Blackboard)
  • Blake, Nathan. “What a Tangled Web We Weave: Creating and Sharing Interactive Texts with Twine, and Eight Bad Puns to Inspire You.” DH Tools for Beginners. Medium. (Online reading)

Optional Texts


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