Dr. Dean Taciuch
George Mason University

Summer 2021

English 377: B01

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 Database
Internet Archive


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 (Interactive Fiction tool)
Calibre (ebook editor and organizer)
Information and Licensing tools from Creative Commons

Methods of Instruction

This course is an online hybrid: A traditional Summer B course would meet twice per week for 8 weeks. We will meet once per week (virtually) on Wednesdays from 4:30 – 7:10. In addition, there will be materials uploaded to the course site which will make up the second week's meeting. These asynchronous sessions will require reading and exploring some of the materials and tools on your own.

For the virtual Wednesday sessions, we will meet using Zoom. The Course room link is available on the BlackBoard course site. I will record the sessions and upload them to a class archive on BlackBoard as well, but virtual attendance is far better than watching the archived video. We will use the synchronous sessions for demos, questions, and workshops,

The asynchronous material will be availabe on BlackBoard. Assignments should be posted to BlackBoard; although most of the projects will be uploaded to your own websites, the links should be posted to the BlackBoard assignments.

The tools we will use in this course are open-source and platform agnostic (Mac, Windows, Linux should all work).

After a brief introduction and overview of digital creative writing and some of its antecedents, the course will cover two areas of digital creative writing:

The class ends with a Final Portfolio which should include (at least) your ebook and your interactive text, as well as a short artist's statement.


Made Digital: These will be "conventional" digital works (word processor, for example) made into a fully digital format: website, e-book, etc. Another way to look at this is as digital distribution--a work that is published in a digital format.

Digital distribution makes every author a publisher, which brings up very important issues of copyright, permissions, free speech/free press. We will address these issues as well.

Creative Commons
GMU Web Development resources

Born Digital: This should be an interactive, multi-path text which could only be experienced, or at least is best experienced, as a digital work. Such works may be along the lines of "Choose-Your -Own-Adventure" stories, games, generative texts, etc.

Digital works can include images, video, audio, and other multimedia content. For this course, we will focus on text, though other media can be included.


Other Assignments: The other assignments in this class include a generated text (cut-up), two reviews of digital works, workshops, and a website to hold your portfolio materials).


Course Policies


Text generator exercise, reviews of ebook and digital text, workshops, and website: 50%

Final Portfolio: ebook, interactive text, explanatory essay (and anything else you want to include, such as the generated text/cut up): 50%

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

Revision Policy: Revision is built in to the course; the Final Portfolio should contain revised versions of the earlier assignments.

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

Memorial Day: University Closed Monday June 1
First Day of Classes Tuesday June 2
Last day to add classes
Thursday June 3
Last day to drop with no tuition penalty Thursday June 3
Final Drop Deadline (50% tuition penalty) Wednesday June 9
Unrestricted Withdrawal Period Thursday June 10– Thursday June 17
Juneteenth (University Closed) Friday June 18
Selective Withdrawal Period (undergraduate students only) Friday June 18– Tuesday July 6
Independence Day (University Closed) Sunday July 4 – Monday July 5
Last Day of Classes Wednesday July 21
Exam Period Thursday July 22 – Saturday July 24

Course Schedule




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