LIT 400: Reading Cyberliterature

Class Schedule



Required Texts/ Film/ Game/ Program, Etc. (to be read, viewed, played or experienced before class)

Recommended Readings

Assignment(s) due

Special Activity (other than discussion)

August 30

Introduction to Course (syllabus, NMR and CD, Storyspace, and some electronic literature)

September 13

Interactivity and the “Tradition of Experiment”

Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths” (NMR 29), “Funes His Memory,” “The Book of Sand” (at BB), and the hypertext version of the latter story created by Maximus Clarke, Queneau, “Yours for the Telling” (NMR 147), Interactive Fictions “Adventure” and “Curses” and accompanying documentation (NMR CD), Douglas, "Abandoning the Either/Or for the And/And/And: Hypertext and the Art of Argumentative Writing," (requires Adobe Acrobat reader, a plug-in for web browsers; to get it free click here.)

Introductions by Murray and Manovich (NMR 3-25), Bush, “As We May Think” (NMR 35, focus on sections 6, 7 and 8), Nelson, from Literary Machines (NMR 441), Bolter, “Seeing and Writing” (NMR 679), Weinbren, “In the Ocean of Streams of Story” (NMR CD), Aarseth, “Chapter 1: Ergodic Literature,” from Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature

Begin bi-weekly postings to discussion board in second week (to be continued through week of 11/29)

Writing in Storyspace

September 20

Techno-determinism and Alternatives

Moulthrop, Victory Garden, Williams, “The Technology and the Society) (NMR 289)

Moulthrop, “forking paths” documentation (NMR CD), Enzensberger, ”Constituents of a Theory of the Media” (NMR 259), Baudrillard, “Requiem for the Media” (NMR 277)


Practice with writing in Storyspace

September 27


VG, Jean Baudrillard, from "Simulacra and Simulation"

Moulthrop, “You Say You Want a Revolution?” (NMR 691); NY Times article: “Reality TV Goes to War” (at BB); Wall Street Journal article on the U.S. Army's use of the Internet ; Website for U. S. Army recruiting game: "America's Army"; NPR story on soldiers’ blogs (with links to the blogs themselves)


Presentation and discussion of first hypertext assignment

October 4


Gibson, Burning Chrome (all stories except “Hinterlands” and “Red Star, Winter Orbit” are required) , Phrack files (NMR CD)

“Hinterlands” and “Red Star, Winter Orbit,” Wiener, “Men, Machines, and the World About” (NMR 67), Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis” (NMR 73), N. Katherine Hayles, "Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers", Sterling, “The Digital Underground,” Part 2 of The Hacker Crackdown


Chatroom discussions

October 11


Bladerunner: The Director’s Cut, Eliza/Doctor (NMR CD), Weizenbaum, From Computer Power and Human Reason (NMR 367),

Turing “Computing, Machinery, and Intelligence” (NMR 49), Suchman, “Plans and Situated Actions” (NMR 599)

Critical hypertext on VG


October 25

Technology, Embodiment, Identity

Jackson, Patchwork Girl, Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto” (NMR 515)

Shelley, Frankenstein (not ordered for course), Deleuze and Guattari, From A Thousand Plateaus (NMR 405), Gosling, “My Not-So-Secret Life as a Cyborg,” Tal, “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: African-American Critical Theory and Cyberculture, Bromley, “Border Skirmishes: A Meditation on Gender, New Technologies and the Persistence of Structure”



November 1


PG, Jackson, “Stitch Bitch: the patchwork girl”

Jackson's homepage: "Ineradicable Stain"

Hershman, Documentation of Lorna and Deep Contact (NMR CD), “Organizing Information” and “Site Structure” from Chapter on Site Design at Yale Web Style Guide: second edition, MITH Tutorial on HTML



Coding in HTML vs. working with WYSIWYG editors

November 8


Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Bagdikian, “The Endless Chain” (NMR 471), Stallman, “The GNU Manifesto” (NMR 543), “Who Owns What?” on The Columbia Journalism Review Website, Umberto Eco, "Travels in Hyperreality" (1975) (at BB), Essays on Disney at "Transparency Now",
Sullivan, “The Blogging Revolution” (Wired 10.5, May 02), Doctorow's blog,



November 15

Digital Poetry

Queneau, “A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems” (NMR 147), Kendall, “The Clue” (NMR CD), “3 Proposals for Bottle Imps” by William Poundstone, and “Firefly” by Deena Larsen, “The Dream Life of Letters” by Brian Kim Stefans (New Media Poetry at Iowa, 2002), “Orient” by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (Iowa Web Review 2002), “Faith” by Robert Kendall (Cauldron & Net, 2002)

Burroughs , “The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin” (NMR 89), McCloud, “Time Frames” (NMR 711), Loss Pequeño Glazier, “The Poetics of Dynamic Texts”, “Jumping to Occlusions”, Lisa Russ Spaar, “Lines Online: Poetry Journals on the Web” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 7, 2003) (at BB)



November 22

More Digital Poetry

Students’ choices TBA

Some resources: Electronic Literature Organization Directory, The Iowa Review Web, Literature Unbound, Deena Larsen's Addicts Attic, Poems that Go, New River; plus, see the external links and webliography of online sources I provide at BB.

Critical Hypertext (Storyspace or Website) on Cyberpunk/Cyborg/Posthuman Theme


November 29

Games, Simulations, Virtual Worlds

Architecture Machine Group, Demos of Aspen Movie Map and Put-That-There (NMR CD), Games for the Apple II (NMR CD);

Game, simulation or virtual world yet to be determined: perhaps Metapet? Banja? Unfiction? Demos of Myst or Grim Fandango? (or class members’ suggestions)

Viola, “Will There Be Condominiums in Dataspace” (NMR 463), Turkle, “Video Games and Computer Holding Power” (NMR 499),Two Selections by Brenda Laurel (NMR 563), Morningstar and Farmer, “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” (NMR 663), Ivanhoe Game



December 6

Student Projects



Proposal for final project due

Workshop for final projects

December 13

Student Projects



Draft/version of final project due

Workshop for final projects

December 17

Final version of final project due by 3 p.m. (no exceptions!)