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

Semester: Spring 2006     Time: T 3:00 - 5:30 pm     Place: Kuy 411

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


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

Contributions to the Class Blog

You may use the blog throughout the semester as a way of communicating with classmates and commenting on our readings and discussions. You are required to post at least once each week in response to the assigned readings and activities. Each of your posts must meet the following criteria:


In-Class Teaching Presentation

Choose at least one of the assigned electronic texts and at least one of the assigned critical texts and prepare a 15-minute presentation aimed at teaching the material to your classmates. You should spend some time with the literary text itself, referring to specific passages or features and attempting to connect them with concepts and critical techniques discussed in the scholarly texts. Try to formulate questions or take positions that will spur discussion. You should also think of an activity--a brief analysis of a passage of the text, for example, or a "click through" of certain interactive features of the text-- that will involve your classmates directly with the central ideas of your presentation.

You may bring in whatever additional material you think will help you illustrate your points, but remember that the time limit will be strictly enforced. We may well extend the conversation about your topic beyond the 15 minutes, but one of the goals here is to work effectively within set parameters.

You may not read from a prepared text. You must use some form of electronic media--PowerPoint at the very least--in your presentation. The more you interact directly with the class, the more they are likely to learn from you.  top

Scholarly Review

This short paper gives you a chance to demonstrate your ability to analyze electronic literature within the framework of critical concepts in the field. Choose a primary literary text and write a review of the work that focuses on two or three specific aspects of the text. You should explicitly refer to at least two concepts or problems drawn from the assigned critical reading (you may use outside sources as well; refer to the Web Resources for some additional sources of scholarship.

Your paper must meet the following criteria:

  1. it must have a clearly formulated claim or thesis statement presented in an introduction that provides some indication of what text(s) the essay is going to treat and what critical framework(s) it will engage
  2. it must focus on a few specific examples (for example, short sequences from a particular computer game rather than "computer gaming" in general)
  3. it must engage some clearly articulated concept(s) within current scholarship in electronic litrature, drawing from the theoretical and critical texts we have read in class or others
  4. it must present a coherent analysis of the materials
  5. it must base its analysis on evidence from the primary text (that is, you must somehow cite the primary materials directly, using links, screen captures, or other strategies)
  6. it must directly cite at least two secondary sources (critical and theoretical texts)
  7. it must use MLA style consistently in documenting these citations
  8. it must present a conclusion that recapitulates the initial claim, showing the implications of the argument
  9. it must be free of typographical, grammatical, and factual errors
  10. it must be presented as a valid HTML document with an associated CSS stylesheet
  11. it must be equivalent to 5 double-spaced pages in length

Choose a text that interests you (you may go beyond the reading assignments for this class for your primary text).  top

Creative Project

You are required to develop a creative digital literature project of your own, using the skills you will learn during the first weeks of the semester. The final "release version" of your project must demonstrate basic proficiency in these technical skills, but the main criteria for evaluation are as follows:

  1. some relationship between the verbal artistry of the piece and the structural/behavioral aspects of its design must be evident
  2. the piece must engage at least two modes of representation (the most common are the verbal and pictorial, but audio, kinetic, and other modes are possible)
  3. it must be "complete" in whatever terms are appropriate for it
  4. all of its components must function--no dead links or inactive buttons, no "coming soon" messages
  5. it must be free of typographical, grammatical, and technical errors
  6. minimally, it must be presented as a valid HTML document with an associated CSS stylesheet; it may incorporate Flash, digital video, audio, and other media as well
  7. it must be equivalent to 7 double-spaced pages in length (but the "completeness" criterion is more important than a quantitive measure of length, which doesn't always apply)


Documentation and Self-Assessment

The release version of your creative project must be accompanied by a 3-page doucmentation of and reflection on the process you went through to create it. This documentation should take the form of a web site that incorporates references to (and ideally links to or screen captures of) various stages of your project's development.


last updated 01/07/06 by jz