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Course Description

This course explores the properties of non-linear, multi-linear, and interactive forms of narratives as they have evolved from print to digital media. Works covered in this course range from the Talmud, classics of non-linear novels, experimental literature, early sound and film experiments to recent multi-linear and interactive films and games. The study of the structural properties of narratives that experiment with digression, multiple points of view, disruptions of time, space, and of storyline is complemented by theoretical texts about authorship/readership, plot/story, properties of digital media and hypertext. Questions that will be addressed in this course include: How can we define 'non-linearity/multi-linearity', 'interactivity', 'narrative'. To what extend are these aspects determined by the text, the reader, the digital format? What kinds of narratives are especially suited for a nonlinear/ interactive format? Are there stories that can only be told in a digital format? What can we learn from early non-digital examples of non-linear and interactive story telling?

Students will develop digital and non-digital collaborative projects that explore the complex relationships of narrative and interactivity in a hands-on, workshop format. Goal of this course is to expand our understanding of narrative and refine our skills in the critical analysis of interactive formats through a combination of project development, readings on the theory and practice of non-linear/interactive narrative, and close analysis of digital and non-digital narratives.


Attendance and Participation (25%)

It is important that you take actively part in the discussions in class. Your participation will shape your understanding of interactive and non-linear narratives and your contributions will be vital to the whole group. Should you be unable to come to class contact me ahead of time so that we can make appropriate arrangements.

Summaries/Presentations (20%)

You are responsible for short summaries on your readings (as defined by the assignments) and one presentation in class.

Papers (20%)

There will be three papers in the form of a detailed project design document.

Digital Projects (35%)

Three projects that can consist of a well-developed concept, a prototype, designs, an actual digital or non-digital implementation, and a report. All projects need to be presented in class. The final project can be a combination of the other two class projects or an extension of one.

Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism attacks the freedom and integrity of thought. Especially in a class that will depend to some extent on online research, you must know what constitutes plagiarism and avoid it. The Literature Department has formulated this statementand policy for all plagiarism cases:

Plagiarism — use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement — is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution consult the style guides available in the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Website on Plagiarism.

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