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Fall 2018 Course Supplement IAP 2019 Spring 2019 Course Supplement
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21L.489[J] Interactive Narrative
21W.765[J], CMS.845
Nick Montfort W 2:00 - 5:00 66-160

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-A
Topics: New Media

The course focuses on one methodology and includes two large-scale creative projects which students undertake individually.


NARRATIVE THEORY is the methodology. We study narratology (narrative theory) to gain a better understanding of the form and function of narratives in general, and to be able to discuss and work with the elements and aspects of interactive narrative particularly. Narrative theory is introduced throughout the first half of the course, during the FORKING PATHS unit, and is applied in the ELECTRONIC LITERATURE unit as well.


FORKING PATHS. We study non-linear print pieces of different sorts –not only the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series but other juvenile fiction books of similarly unusual structure; parodies of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books; literary works such as those by Saporta, Queneau, Mathews, Pavić, Coover, and others; and comics by Jason Shiga and others. Students write their own creative multisequential print piece.


ELECTRONIC LITERATURE. We focus on digital work that has narrative as an important component. Often, the “user” or “reader” is the one who gets to produce the narratives by interacting. A narrative electronic literature work can be a structured document that the interactor can traverse in many ways or a more complex computer program that simulates a world, accepts English input, and perhaps does other interesting things. This includes many computer and video games, including interactive fiction, along with classic and more recent hypertext fictions, visual novels, and many other examples of creative computing. The main project for the term is to create a work of electronic literature of some sort, which can be done by programming or for instance by creating a hypertextual work, which does not require programming.

21L.512 American Authors: Weird Americas Joaquín Terrones MW 7:00 - 8:30 PM 4-253

Prereq: One subject in Literature, permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Fiction, New Media

Christopher Columbus’s initial description of the Americas featured rivers of gold and man-eating monsters. From the moment settlers and conquistadors first encountered its endless frontiers, abundant nature, and alien cultures, the New World has often stood as otherworldly counterpart to European worldliness. This course will examine how contemporary North and Latin American authors have reflected on their national identities through horror, magical realism, and science fiction.

Our first unit will consider hauntings and ghosts stories as attempts to make sense of the hemisphere’s violent past. In the second, we will explore divergent worlds, geographies, and timelines that reimagine otherness and cultural plurality. The final unit will study genetic and cybernetic splicings that blur the carefully guarded lines between man, animal, and machine.

Some of the texts we will read include Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, as well as short stories by Borges, Poe, Lovecraft, and Ocampo. We will also analyze the Brazilian graphic novel Daytripper, the Canadian television series Orphan Black, the film Jupiter Ascending, and the music of Janelle Monáe.