This site archives the course material and online class discussions for ENGL 343, a course offered in Fall 2005 at George Mason University that focused on digital writing and electronic literature.
In addition to reading the Lev Manovich article, here is a short exploratory assignment to complete before Tuesday’s class.
Explore the following two sites:
- Lexia to Perplexia by Talan Memmott (use IE)
- The Bomar Gene by Jason Nelson (click the link at the bottom of the page)
Write three paragraphs about your experience:
- A paragraph "reading" of Lexia to Perplexia
- A paragraph "reading" The Bomar Gene
- A final paragraph comparing how these two sites use multimedia to create and challenge meaning
Post to the blog before class begins…
- Reread afternoon, a story from the beginning
- Pick any series of four linked story “spaces”
- Keep track of the words that take you from one lexia to the next. What is their “texture” and what is their relationship to the title and text of the lexia they yield to?
- Analyze the lexia themselves: who is speaking, what is the context, what is the theme of the lexia? How does these lexia relate to each other and to the greater meaning of afternoon?
If you don’t quite know what to make of Afternoon, I suggest that you read through the directions, which you can get to from the very first screen (the "title page") by clicking the "Y" at the bottom of the StorySpace window.
Once you’re in the story, I encourage you to explore multiple paths by clicking on words within each lexia. Many words–especially names, places, and other weighty words–are hyperlinks (even though they’re not underlined or highlighted). It’s up to you, the reader, to figure out which words "yield" new lexia (to use Michael Joyce’s language).
- Continue exploring Hegirascope
- Pick any series of three linked pages
- What are these fragments about? What do they add up to?
- Analyze the lexia themselves, the “texture” of the link choices between them, the actual links, how the lexia relate to each other, how the lexia relate to the whole of Hegirascope and its overall meaning
- Post a 500-word critical "reading" or interpretation of Hegirascope to the blog (this does not replace the weekly reading response); be sure to include in your post links to the specific pages which you write about
If you’re stuck on your Choose Your Own Adventure map, here’s another one to look at. This is a map of The Cave of Time, the first and original book in the series. It’s big, so you have to scroll, but you get the idea. Notice how I used a color key to distinguish between the various endings.
I created the map using an freely available concept mapping software called CMapTools. There are versions of this development tool available for most platforms, so you may want to experiment with it. It definitely made the mapping experience easier for me. (The last one I did was with pen and paper and took much longer to plot out.)
When you play Zork, I recommend setting up an account, so you can retrieve your saved games. You can play for a bit, save your game, then come back later and pick up where you left off.
To create an account, type "login" at the prompt and follow the directions. You’ll have to submit a username and password, then type "yes" to apply as a new user. After that, you can save and restore games. The command to save is "save" (w/o quotation marks) and to restore your game, type "restore" at the prompt.
Also, here’s a PDF file of the old Zork manual, which might be useful.
Reflections upon your own "Incipit"
- Describe your general methodology for choosing the links you inserted into your Calvino "incipit."
- Pick four of the links you created in your incipit and explain your rationale for each of them, and then reflect on whether you were successful or not in what you tried to convey.
Reflections upon other "Incipits"
- Read two other incipits
- In a new post to the blog, write a reflection about how the links added or took away from the “meaning” or “coherency” of the incipit.
Here is a list (so far) of the Calvino-inspired "incipits" written in ENGL 343:
- Traversing through the Winding Road (Ann Luu)
- A Look Beyond the Bridge (Bertha Bey)
- When There is No Story at All (Jackie Kennard)
- From the Deep Dark Cells of Isolation (Bryan Pierson)
- Swimming Through a Sea of Defiance (Randall Ford)
- Across the Dark Expanse (Philip Miller)
- Cowering in the Darkest Chasms (Jennifer Parker)
- Neighborhood Lawns in the Middle of September (Wes Shephard)
- "Rock!" said Mary (Jason Obenschain)
- The Drawn Pavement of October Nights (Lindsey Williams)