Final Paper: Two “Reviews”

The final assignment for ENGL 343 is a 6-8 page persuasive paper, in which you play two opposing roles: (1) in the first half of the paper you will write in the persona of a literary critic who is resistant to the idea of studying electronic literature; (2) in the second half of the paper you will write in the persona of a critic who is defending the value of electronic literature. You will not be writing about electronic literature in general though: you must write these two reviews with a specific work in mind.

Here is the step-by-step breakdown of the project:

(1) Select a specific work of electronic literature to “review.” It can be any work of electronic literature that we have not already talked about in class in any substantial way. I strongly encourage you to explore the Electronic Literature Collection (either online or on the cd-rom) to find a work to write about.

(2) Writing from the position of someone who is doubtful about the literary value of electronic literature, argue against the work you have chosen. The operative word is “argue.” This means you need an argument and all that entails: a coherent position, logical flow, evidence, etc. Rants and indiscriminate criticism are not acceptable. One way to approach this critical review is to take for granted what the work is trying to do, and then analyze how the work fails at the task it sets out for itself.

(3) Writing from the position of someone who finds electronic literature engaging and worthwhile, argue for the work you have chosen. Again, craft your argument carefully, using specific examples from the work to support your argument. Write about the ways that the work succeeds, either according to traditional literary values or to more anti-traditional values.

In both reviews, incorporate the ideas of narrative, interactivity, and nonlinearity, and the many others that we’ve talked about this semester. Refer to the ideas from Hayles and Ryan, as well as the other critical writings we’ve encountered. Cite everything according to the MLA Handbook.

This final paper is due on Thursday, December 11 and will be worth the remaining 15 percent of your final grade.