Syllabus - Fall 2019

Course Information

Professor Suzanne Rigdon

Office Hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays right before and after class in Innovation Hall. Other hours in my office are by appointment only. Please give 24 hours' notice when you email me for an appointment so I can make sure I'm there. I'm generally available T/TH 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

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.

Course Materials

No textbooks are required for this class. All readings and activities will be available online or through the GMU Library.You will need a computer in each class, but you may use either the classroom desktops or your own laptop. Additional free online materials required for this class:

Reference Texts and Materials

We will be using a number of databases of electronic literature throughout the semester. Some of these sites include:

For help with the basic HTML coding, use W3Schools for guidance. They have easy to follow, step-by-step directions. Often, you can simply copy-paste their code and make your adjustments from there. Although this is not a programming or coding class per se, learning basic skills is required. Please see BlackBoard --> Course Materials--> Coding. I have created a self-study schedule and linked to helpful materials in Lynda, a free video tutorial system offered through the library. The coding aspect of this class is primarily self-directed. Some platforms like Twine require basic HTML with a Twine-specific syntax, which you can find in their Wiki.

Methods of Instruction

This course is interactive and discussion-based. We will work together to learn digital tools and techniques, review influential electronic literature, and create and experiment with writing outside of traditional media and our own comfort zones. We will also be actively workshopping—responding to and learning from—each other’s writing throughout the semester. Rich and interesting class workshops and discussions do require a lot of work, but they can be incredibly rewarding if everyone is willing to share your unique and thoughtful insights and ideas and questions; and open to differing perspectives provided by our electronic texts and our classmates.

Respect: The classroom should be a respectful community environment, where anyone feels able to speak. It is vital that our class atmosphere encourages the free and open exchange of ideas and opinions. It is inevitable and even desirable that disagreements will arise, but those disagreements should be handled with a fundamental respect for one another’s viewpoints. Private conversations during class discussion or instruction times are inappropriate; this includes texting on your phone or messaging on your computer. Please show courtesy to other students and your instructor.


Points Assignment Due Date
10% or 100 pts Experimental Mini Project + How to Read (80) + Reflection (20) 9/17
20% or 200 points Project 2 + How to Read (180) + Reflection (20) 10/31
20% or 200 points Project 3 + How to Read (180) + Reflection (20) 12/9
14% or 140 points E-Lit Reviews (2 x 70) #1 - 9/19 , #2 - your choice
7% or 70 points Forms Portfolio 11/12
6% or 60 points Participation (2 points/ class) Ongoing
4% or 40 points Neocities Website Finalized by 12/9
4% or 40 points Peer Review (2 x 20) Ongoing
4% or 40 points Mimetic Responses (4 x 10) Ongoing
3.5% or 35 points Discussion Questions (15) + Quiz (10) + Copyright Assignment (10) 10/1, 10/1, 11/14
3% or 30 points Fall for the Book Assignment 10/17
2.5% or 25 points Lit Mag Review 12/5
2% or 20 points Navigation Analysis 9/26

Major Assignments

Experimental Mini Project: This Project should demonstrate your implementation of digital production and composition techniques, such as text generators or digital transformations, as a means for remixing media to create something new. The basic idea is that you must use some sort of digital tool or technique in composing/producing this project. Use the tools to push yourself to write in a new way. Move beyond your comfort zone.

Project 2: This project should demonstrate your implementation of digital presentation and interaction techniques, such as multiple paths, reader interaction, and visual or animated elements. The projects should be created with an audience in mind and include a "narrative" or some other sort of intentional connectivity (whether prose or poetry). The overall goal is to create something new here that comes to a sort of closure for the audience. Project 2 needs to be reliant on technology and must be published in a digital medium; that is, this should be a project that can't exist without technology (i.e. a multi-path story in Twine, a branching hypertext poem, etc.).

Project 3: Project 3 Project can either be totally new, or be a remix and/or expansion of something you've done previously in the class. It can be your best work from the class or something that you're excited to work on some more. You may include any updated work from the two major Projects, or from any of the smaller written assignments that we've done; you should also include some new work. If continuing/remixing work previously submitted, Project 3 must be at least 50% new. Demonstrate through your work and reflections how your mindset has changed from when you started the class.

Letter Grade Guidelines

This course will use the following general guidelines for grading:

Late Assignments: All late assignments will receive a 5% deduction per calendar day they are late. No assignment will be accepted after 1 week from the original due date. No late peer reviews will be accepted as these are time sensitive. There are no revisions on written assignments in this class. Solving technical issues is part and parcel of this class. Make sure you submit your work with enough time (several hours) to be able to solve any lingering issues. There are no late submissions accepted for Project 3.

This class is out of 1000 points

Course Policies

3-Day Passes: This semester, you will have one (1) three-day pass to use for any reason you see fit. Your 3-day pass allows you to submit your work up to three calendar days late for any assignment EXCEPT the final project and reflection. You can use your 3-day pass without incurring any grade penalties; you don’t need to obtain our permission or to offer any explanation. If you are using your 3-day pass on an assignment, email me before the assignment is due. You cannot use a 3-day pass retroactively—this includes 15 minutes after the deadline. If you do not indicate that you are using your 3-day pass before you submit your work, the standard late work penalty will be applied.

Email: Students must activate their Mason email account and check it regularly. For privacy reasons and per university policy, I will only send and reply to your official GMU email address. You can contact me outside of class through my Mason email accounts with any questions or issues that cannot wait until our next class session. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner, but do not typically check email on nights and weekends. For important or more personal matters, such as extended conversations about your drafts and/or grades, please meet with me in person during office hours or set up an appointment.

Class Cancellations & Inclement Weather: If the weather is bad, check the GMU website.and look for a scrolling banner announcing delays or closings. You can also sign up for Mason Alert to have university closures and other critical information e-mailed or texted to you. If the university is closed for weather or other emergencies, check your Mason e-mail for instructions and schedule modifications. You may be asked to complete an online class or activities that will help us stay on track.

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. And please give credit where credit is due.

Other Important Resources

The University Writing Center: For additional help at any stage in your writing process, visit the University Writing Center, located in Robinson B 213. (The Writing Center has moved). The Writing Center is one of the best resources you will find on campus. They have an outstanding website that offers a wealth of online resources for student writers. You can schedule a 45 minute appointment with a trained tutor; you can even obtain assistance with papers by visiting the online writing center, but please plan ahead because these slots fill up very fast, especially around midterms and finals. Make an appointment via their website.

Accommodation Policy for Students with Disabilities: If you are a student with a disability who needs academic accommodations, I am happy to provide them. Please see me and contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 703-993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the ODS and do not take effect until we receive your ODS accommodations sheet.

Counseling and Psychological Services: (703) 993-2380. CAPS offers free counseling and academic workshops. Same day appointments are available. Services are provided by a staff of professional counseling and clinical psychologists, social workers, and counselors. CAPS individual and group counseling, workshops and outreach programs are designed to enhance students’ personal experience and academic performance.

Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education: (703) 993-2700. The Office of Diversity Programs and Services supports our diverse student and faculty population. The office is committed to the success of all members of the Mason community. Throughout the year, it sponsors a variety of programs for students and faculty.

Important Dates

The full academic calendar and final exam schedule is available through the registrar’s website, , but here are some key deadlines: