ENG 394: Junior Honors Seminar: Digital Literature Theory + Practice

Semester: Spring 2006     Time: T 3:00 - 5:30 pm     Place: Kuy 411
Web Site: http://www.english.hawaii.edu/zuern/394

Instructor: John Zuern
Office: Kuykendall 219     Office Hours: TR 1:30 - 3:00 (and by appointment)
Email (the best way to contact me): zuern@hawaii.edu     Telephone: 956-3019


This seminar will introduce you to a number of important works in the emerging field of electronic literature. We will read examples of hypertext fiction and poetry, kinetic poems in which the words and letters move across the screen, computer-generated poetry and fiction, and texts that present themselves as games and puzzles. We will also examine some print literature that has been inspired by these electronic experiments. Along with these literary texts we will read some of the leading critics of digital literature, and our in-class activities and writing exercises will guide you through techniques for analyzing these challenging texts, and you will learn many of the key concepts that currently inform critical work in this area.

If you’re into interactive fiction, computer games, blogs, or other forms of computer-based writing, this class will give you the opportunity to pursue those interests and to connect them to relevant scholarship.

The best way to understand what digital literature is all about is to attempt to do some of your own writing in these new media. In addition to studying existing works of digital literature, class also aims at providing you with the basic knowledge and skills to create electronic literary texts of your own. In a series of in-class workshops during the first part of the semester, you will learn the fundamentals of hypertext authoring and animation. At least one of your major writing assignments for the class must submitting in an electronic format, so the class encourages you to roll up your sleeves and make the kinds of texts we will also be examining critically.



Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves

Harrigan, Pat and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Eds. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game

Hayles, N. Katherine Writing Machines

Morrissey, Judd and Lori Talley. My Name is Captain, Captain (CD-ROM)

All books are available from Revolution Books in Puck's Alley (2626 S. King Street/944-3106).

Course Packet

The packet is available from Campus Copy in the UHM Student Center.

Connectivity and Storage Media

You must have an active email account and reliable access to the Internet with a current browser. I strongly advise you to invest in a good flash drive or other reliable storage device for your files.


Your final grade for this class will be based on the following assignments:

All writing for this class will be in an electronic format.


Assignments are due by class time on the day on which they appear in the schedule. You must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade in this class.  Grades for late assignments will be lowered by one letter grade for every day past the due date. I will not comment on alpha or beta versions that are submitted more than two days past the deadline.

I will assign grades based on the +/- system. I will use the following values to compute your final grades:

A+ = 4.0  A= 4.0  A- = 3.7

B+ = 3.3  B = 3.0  B- = 2.7

C+ = 2.3  C = 2.0  C- = 1.7

D+ = 1.3  D = 1.0  D- = 0.7

F = 0.0

In compliance with university policy, I will give incompletes only in cases of documented medical or family emergencies.


I expect that you will attend this class regularly and on time. It is especially important that you show up promptly fro MOO sessions, as late arrivals in the MOO space can be especially disruptive for others in the class. More than three (3) unexcused absences will result in a failing grade for the class. If circumstances arise that make it difficult for you to attend on-campus classes and MOO sessions, or to complete your assigned work, please inform me immediately. Don’t wait until the end of the semester, when it will be harder to make accommodations.


Your relationships with your classmates and with me are governed by the Student Conduct Code, which also applies in all the online environments we will be using this semester. I expect you to act in a professional and respectful manner in all of these settings. I also expect you to adhere to the Interim Policy for Responsible Computing and Network Access and the policies of the English Studies Computing Center.

If you feel that the conduct of another student in the class is interfering with your ability to work productively, please speak with me about the problem immediately.

Scholastic Dishonesty

The University of Hawai‘i regulations strictly forbid plagiarism and collusion. Submitting someone else’s work as your own, arranging for someone else to do your writing for you, or purchasing papers will earn you a failing grade for the assignment and may result in a failing grade in the class. Please review the Department of English Statement on Plagiarism and ask about any issues you do not understand.


If you feel you need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, please contact the KOKUA Program at 956-7511 or 956-7612 in Room 013 of the QLCSS. You should also speak with me privately to discuss your specific needs. I am happy to work with you and the KOKUA Program to meet your access needs related to your documented disability.

last updated 01/07/06 by jz