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Office: Susquehanna 4109
Office Hours: Tues. and Thurs., 3:30-4:30, and by appointment
Office Phone: 301-405-3816

The best way to contact me is usually by email:

The FrankenMOO

Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl

A Literary Visualization

IVANHOE: A Game of 

An exploration of the changing face of textuality in an online era, with the emphasis on the interplay between electronic writing and other forms of digital media (visual, video, audio, kinetic, immersive). We will examine electronic texts and the future of writing in relation to both the history of the oral and the written word and the shift from page to screen that culminates in the emergence of what one critic terms "information space." Our point of departure will be a reading of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, one of the greatest fables of artifice and technology we have. This text will become the vehicle by which we traverse a wide array of experimental digital landscapes, to include Shelley Jackson's refashioning of the original tale as her hypertext fiction Patchwork Girl and the interactive imaginative millieu that is the FrankenMOO. Students will also use the text to play a round of IVANHOE: A Game of Interpretation (an electronic role-playing game devised by Jerome McGann and Johanna Drucker) as well as to "visualize" a portion of the narrative for presentation on the World Wide Web. Our objective in constantly positioning and re-positioning Frankenstein within these transformative textual and narrative spaces will be to explore (hands-on) a variety of new technologies while gaining an appreciation of the rich and diverse forms of textuality made manifest in existing and emerging electronic environments. In the process, all students will learn practical Web publishing skills and techniques for expressing themselves in electronic settings--essential tools for literacy in the 21st century. No prior technical knowledge is expected or assumed. However, I do assume a genuine interest in computers and new media, as well as a little bit of patience and a willingness to learn some new skills.

Required Texts:

  • Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl (Eastgate Systems, 1995)
  • Steven Johnson, Interface Culture (Harper, 1997)
  • Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (Routledge, 1982)
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Penguin, 1992).
Optional Text:

  • How Computers Work (Que, 2001)
The books are available at both the University Book Center and the Maryland Book Exchange. You may also, of course, obtain them from other sources, including online vendors.

You are responsible for reading assigned materials according to the course calendar. Moreover, online readings are as much a part of the course as the printed texts, and you can expect to be examined on them and otherwise held responsible for their content.

Grades will be calculated according to the following percentage values:

MOO Exercise 20%
Visualization 20%
Ivanhoe Game 20%
5-7 Page Paper 20%
Final Exam 20%
The final exam will be comprehensive (covering readings and other material from the entire semester) and it will include both essay and short answer-type questions. It will be administered at the date and time scheduled by the Registrar. All other items will be detailed on the assignments page. Note that I will award plus/minus grades. See also the section on ATTENDANCE, PARTICIPATION, QUIZZES, below.

All assignments are scheduled on the course calendar. Any work submitted after the beginning of class on the day on which it is due will be considered late. Late work will be docked one full letter grade for each day--not each course meeting--that it is overdue (work submitted late on the same day it was due will still be docked one full letter). Persons who know they will require special accommodation for religious, university athletic, medical, or other such obligations should inform me of that fact as close to the start of the semester as possible.
Subscription to the class's electronic coursemail list is mandatory. All students who have a valid email address in Testudo should be automatically subscribed. I will use the list to post announcements, updates to the calendar, and other administrative items. You should get into the habit of checking your email at least once a day. You will be held responsible for the content of all email announcements 24 hours after they have been posted.

The address of the coursemail list is:

We will also all use the list to continue and further our in class discussions. Your contributions to the list will be taken into account when I assess the level of your class participation (see below).

All of you must also open a WAM account, which you will learn to use during the course of the semester. All online work must be done on WAM, and not on a private ISP. (This policy will help me to help you troubleshoot if and when problems arise.).

University Attendance Guidelines state "The University expects each student to take full responsibility for his or her academic work and academic progress. . . . Students are expected to attend classes regularly, for consistent attendance offers the most effective opportunity open to all students to gain command of the concepts and materials of their courses of study."

Since this class is also a community, you each have a responsibility to one other as well as to yourselves. I will therefore take attendance every class. I will also expect lively participation and discussion (both in class and online). Your personal attendance record and participation habits will absolutely be the most important factor I consider if, at the end of the semester, I must make a decision on a borderline grade. Moreover, any student who misses more than 25% of the course meetings due to unexcused absences will fail the course.

You are responsible for the material you miss if you are absent. Note that I will not respond to "what did I miss" queries via email (ask a friend in the class, or come see me during office hours).

Finally, I may administer surprise quizzes at any time--and will not hesitate to do so if the class seems unprepared. Quizzes will be taken into consideration alongside participation when calculating borderline grades.

Every member of the class is expected to abide by the University's Code of Academic Integrity. In addition, all written work should be signed with the honor pledge: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination."

ENGL 467