Talking Points (10%)

Each class day, we'll discuss a reading assigment, and you should arrive with a set of questions and ideas that you'd like to pose during that discussion. In preparation, you should prepare 1-2 typed pages of "talking points." The format of this document is entirely up to you, but it should be a way for you to organize your thoughts in preparation for our discussion.

You'll use your talking points during discussion and then turn them in at the end of class. I will only be checking to make sure that you're completing these assignments and that you're doing the readings. Talking points are graded on a credit/no-credit basis, and if you do not receive credit for a talking points assignment I'll ask that you come speak with me.

Weekly Labs (15%)

Each week, we will work through a portion of Nick Montfort's Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities. The book guides non-programmers through some programming basics and demonstrates how we can use computer programming to explore a range of questions in the arts and humanities. The book is written for those with little or no programming experience, though if you happen to be an experienced programmer you will also have an opportunity to extend that knowledge.

Chapters in this book include small programming activities, and Montfort guides us through how to complete them. Your task is to attempt to complete the assigned chapter prior to our class meeting that week; however, we will also work together on the chapter during an in-class lab session.

Regardless of whether or not you complete the chapter, you must come to class with some piece of working code. This can be a program that Montfort gives us directly (meaning that it only requires you to type a program straight from the book), a program you've adapted from something in the book or a program that you've written entirely by yourself.

The only requirement to receive credit for the weekly lab session is that you show me an example of working code. At the beginning of the lab session, you will have time to get the code up and running either on your own machine or on one of the machines in the classroom. I will walk around the room and confirm that you've completed the assignment.

Short Paper and Presentation (25%)

Once during the semester, each student will complete a short paper and presentation that analyzes a work from the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3. Students will turn in a paper and deliver a presentation on the work they've decided to analyze. Students must tell me in advance which work they will analyze, and we will schedule due dates during week five of the course.

Paper (15%)
Papers are to be a maximum of 1500 words (papers exceeding this limit will not be accepted), broken into two sections. First, the paper must describe the artifact in question in 500 words or less. That description should address things such as: What is it? How does it work? Who created it? What tools were used to create it? If there is a narrative component, what are the basics of that narrative? If it is a work of poetry, what does the poetry evoke? The second section of the paper will be a close analysis of the object that makes use of at least one theorist we have read. This section must be no longer than 1000 words. The analysis section can take one of two directions: 1) It can use the artifact you're analyzing to help us understand a theory we've read in a new way; 2) It can use a theory we've read to understand the artifact in a new way. Regardless, you should make clear what your argument is, and you should use evidence to support that argument. Remember that 1000 words is not a great deal of space, and the scope of your argument should relatively small. This may require you to focus on a single portion of a text we've read or on a small piece of the object you are analyzing. The key here is to understand what can be accomplished in 1000 words.

When grading papers, I will be looking for the following:

  • Have you followed the guidelines described above?
  • Have you effectively described the artifact?
  • Have you effectively incorporated one of the theories we've read during class?
  • Have you clearly stated your own analytic argument of the object?
  • Have you supported your argument with evidence?

Presentation (10%)
On the day you submit your paper, you will also deliver a presentation to the class in the Pecha Kucha format. We will discuss this format in class, and I will deliver a sample presentation in this format. The basics are as follows: Each presentation must have exactly 20 slides and each of those slides must be displayed for exactly 20 seconds (you must use the autoplay function of whichever presentation software you choose to ensure this timing). The result will be a presentation that is just under 7 minutes and that encapsulates your paper (both the summary and analysis sections).

When grading presentations, I will be looking for the following:

  • Have you followed the pecha kucha format?
  • Have you effectively summarized and describe your artifact?
  • Have you effectively communicated your analysis of your artifact?
  • Have you made effective use of visuals?

Final Project (50%)

Your final project will be some sort of computational object, and it will be developed with the help of Montfort's Exploratory Programming. The project can take any form, as long as it is rooted in the lessons of Montfort's text, and students are free to work either individually or in groups. The scope and scale of the project is up to you, though you should keep in mind that you are limited by time and by your skills (and the skills of those in your group).

While the final project accounts for 50% of your grade, the project actually has three components:

Project Proposal (10%)
Your project proposal is a one-page document that describes your goals for the project. The document should do three things: 1) Describe the project in detail; 2) Explain how the project will make use of the approaches and lessons from the Montfort text; 3) Provide a description of your work plan and timeline.

When grading proposals, I will be asking the following:

  • Does the document effectively describe the project?
  • Is the project rooted in the approaches in the Montfort text?
  • Is the work plan feasible?

Final Project (30%)
The project itself will be some kind of computational object, which you will submit on the last day of class. You should submit something that someone else can execute and view (and, if applicable, interact with), and your project should include instructions for users/readers/interactors.

When grading projects, I will be asking the following:

  • Does the project work, and is it clear to a user/reader/interactor how it works?
  • Does the project enact the approach provided by Montfort?
  • Does the project use computation in an effective and compelling way?

Project Presentation (10%)
The last day of class will feature presentations for each final project. Presentations should provide some context for the project, explain its inspiration, describe the development process, and lay out what it hopes to achieve. Presentations must be no longer than 10 minutes and must include a demonstration of the project.

  • Does the presentation effectively describe the project, its development, its inspirations, and its goals?
  • Does the presentation make effective use of visuals?
  • Does the presentation effectively demonstrate how the project works?
  • Does the presentation observe the 10-minute time limit?