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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Digital Narratives

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2007 at 3:56 PM

Classes have already begun — at the University of Vermont, anyway — and here's one I wish I could take. It's called Composing Digital Narratives, and it's taught by English prof (and blogger) Richard Parent. Here's an overview, from the syllabus:

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously declared that“hard-core” pornography is hard to define, “but I know it when I seeit.” Digital narrative is a little like that — it’s hard to define, butyou know it when you see it. Or do you? In a later case, Stewartadmitted that his “I know it when I see it” standard was unworkablefrom a legal standpoint. What are we to make of novels written entirelyin text-message, for instance? It might appear that since text-messagesare natively digital, of course a novel written exclusively intext-messages would be digital. In China, Qian Fuzhang has published anovel, Out of the Fortress, written in only 4200 charactersand readable only on cell phones. In Finland, Hannu Luntiala has alsowritten a novel entirely in text-messages, yet the publisher of thiswork, The Last Messages, has published the novel in codex form.  Is this work a digital narrative?

In this course, we will explore the very wide field of digitalnarrative by examining what others have done. We will examine thespectrum of technological tools we have available to us as digitalcomposers. And we will experiment, combining our own imaginations withthese technologies to tell stories no one has told before in ways noone has told them before.

Parent puts assignments and readings and resources on the course blog , so we can sort of see what they're up to. They talk about web-based narratives and games like Zork. In their last class, they apparently watched this "Sims2 machinima" on Male Restroom Etiquette.

One thing I found on their blog that piqued my interest: this digital poetry from Young-Hae Chang.

Anybody out there remember poetry slams? I helped organize the poetry slams in Burlington years ago. Chang's work reminds me of the slams. It's computerized, of course, and meant to be experienced one person at a time, as opposed to slam, which is a performing art. But this digital narrative embodies the spirit of slam — the way it reinvigorated the form by introducing rebellious idea that you could judge poetry, assign it a numerical value. I look at WHAT NOW? and I think of how we used to sit packed into in the Rhombus Gallery, watching teams of touring poets from Providence and Santa Cruz. This seems like an off-shoot of that.

I wish I had the time and money to take this class.

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About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam, and compiles a weekly tech e-newsletter every Monday. She also oversees HR, helps manage Seven Days' digital staff and oversees its parenting publication, Kids VT. In 2018, she designed and administered a statewide youth civics project, the... more

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