Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Spring 2020

English 377: 001

Course Syllabus

Catalog Description

Combined workshop and studio course in technological and aesthetic issues of reading and writing digital interactive texts with emphasis on poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, mixed genre, drama, or performance. Explores how genre meets technology in original creative work. Includes techniques in authoring interactive digital projects using html and other open source resources.


ENGL/ENGH 396 or permission of instructor.


All of the course materials are online; we have no textbook.
The readings are listed in the course schedule; in addition, we will read and review selections from several online collections:

Electronic Poetry Center
Electronic Literature Collection (volumes 1-3)
Interactive Fiction Archive
Internet Archive
As well as a selection of Online journals


We will make use of several tools and resources as well:

Text Generators from SourceForge and UPenn
(Local install of the SourceForge generators)
Public Domain material from the Internet Archive
GMU Web Development resources
Twine, an Interactive Fiction tool
Calibre (ebook editor and organizers)
Information and Licensing tools from Creative Commons

Methods of Instruction

After a brief introduction and Overview of digital creative writing and some of its antecedents, the course will cover three aspects of digital creative writing:

Digital writing differs from traditional writing in each of these areas:

Production & Composition
Presentation & Interaction
Distribution & Attribution


Script Continuous



Each section of the course has associated Readings, Tools, and Writings. The Readings include digital texts, the Tools include specific resources for that section, and the Writings include short writing exercises, such as reviews, tutorials, drafts, and peer critiques.

Each section ends with a Project which should demonstrate some of techniques discussed in that section. The final project for the course will be an online portfolio of your work for the course (final portfolios may be collaborative)


Production and Composition: 25%
Writing Assignments [10%]
Review of one work from UbuWeb
Peer Critique
"How to Read" Guide

Major Assignment [15%]
Production & Composition Project
: This Project should demonstrate your implementation of digital production and composition techniques, such as text generators or digital transformations.


Presentation & Interaction (25%)
Writing Assignments [10%]
Review of one work from EPC
HTML and Twine exercises
Peer Critique
"How to Read" Guide

Major Assignment [15%]
Presentation & Interaction Project
: This Project should demonstrate your implementation of digital presentation and interaction techniques, such as multiple paths, reader interaction, and visual or animated elements.


Distribution & Attribution (25%)
Writing Assignments [optional]
Know Your Rights exercise
E-text analysis (from Internet Archive)
Online Journal review
Peer Critique
"How to Read" Guide

Major Assignment [25%]
Distribution & Attribution Project: This Project should demonstrate your implementation of digital distribution and attribution techniques, such as online publication, copyright-alternative licensing, and proper attribution of source material.

Portfolio (25%)
Writing Assignments [optional]
Portfolio Statement / Manifesto revision
Project Demos
"How to Read" Guide

Major Assignment [25%]
Final Portfolio
: The Final Portfolio should highlight your best work from the class. You may include any work from the first three Projects, updated work, or new work. The material should be published online using any license you deem appropriate (including standard copyright). Any outside sources used should be properly attributed. Students may choose to work together on collaborative portfolios as well.

Projects may be poetry, prose, or something else, but should be primarily text-based.

All Drafts and Projects should include a description and a technical ("How to Read") Guide.


Course Policies

Grading: The four sections of the course are worth 25% each. The grades for each section will be divided up between the writing exercises and the major project. All of the assignments must be completed to receive a grade for the section.

Late Assignments: Late assignments will lose 5% per day unless you make prior arrangements with me. The peer critiques will lose 10% per day.

Revision Policy: Most of the writing assignments can be revised, except for the peer critiques, which are time-sensitive. The assignments must be revised within two weeks (preferably within the same section of the course).

The major projects for each section can be revised, but the revisions must be submitted before the in class demos on May 4.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the ethical failure to properly credit one's source material. This course, like all courses at GMU, will follow the provisions of the GMU Honor Code. Since this course will also utilize techniques of reappropriation and re-use, we will address issues of proper attribution of source material.

As in satire and parody, always "punch up," never "punch down." Reach up for your sources; don't reach down. Borrowing from a well-known work is within the tradition of literary allusion. Borrowing from an unknown work is not.
Reappropriate / remix / borrow ideas and texts from better-known artists (or from peers, if in a close-knit community), not from lesser-known (or unknown) artists.

Attendance: Although attendance is not graded, regular attendance and participation are requirements for citizenship in academic and creative communities.

Students with disabilities: If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 703-993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS.

GMU Nondiscrimination Policy: George Mason University is committed to providing equal opportunity and an educational and work environment free from any discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or age. GMU shall adhere to all applicable state and federal equal opportunity/affirmative action statutes and regulations.

GMU Email: Students must activate their Mason email account and check it regularly. For privacy reasons, all class-related emails will be sent only to students' official GMU email addresses.

Important Dates

MLK Day: University Closed Monday Jan 20
First Day of Classes Tuesday Jan 21
Last day to add classes
Tuesday Jan 28
Last day to drop with no tuition penalty Wed Feb 5
Final Drop Deadline (50% tuition penalty) Tues Feb 11
Unrestricted Withdrawal Period Wed Feb 12 – Mon Feb 24
Selective Withdrawal Period (undergraduate students only) Tues Feb 25 – Mon March 30
Spring Recess Mon March 9 – Sun March 15
Last Day of Classes Mon May 4
Reading Day Tuesday May 5
Exam Period Wed May 6 – Wed May 13

Course Schedule




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