Web-based Literature/Performance/Art Workshop

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Course registration will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

Course Description

This course is designed specifically for English Language Learners interested in further developing their English skills in a challenging college-level academic setting.

Every day, we encounter more language that won’t wait for us, that can’t be page-turned away: advertisements spring on us with hidden or disabled “close” buttons, posts on our social media feeds allure collaboration, notifications strut unasked unto our phone screens, and breaking news articles update while we read. As this crowd of digitized texts grows thicker about our heads, we relearn to read in accordance with its idiosyncrasies. Mobile text becomes more legible than static text.

This course would give students the tools and knowledge base to code/write/make/perform original mobile texts as web-based creative works. While learning basic coding, we would look at examples of such work since the Internet went public in 1992, as well as bite-sized theory on the subject.

As the course title implies, working creatively on the web inherently disrupts traditional distinctions between creative practices. Students would be encouraged to mix and match sound, video, art, and language in their work. Our approach would at times resemble an English class, an art history class, a writing workshop, and/or a coding tutorial.

Remembering that film was primarily used for scientific purposes during its first couple decades of existence, we will learn that code, like any tool, will be used toward creative ends once knowledge of it becomes widespread. As we explore this emergent artform, we will think about who has access to making and experiencing it, and how accessibility might be heightened.

About a third of the course will be a coding tutorial, in which students will learn HTML, CSS, and jQuery. Students will be expected to download (a simple language processor that is free); that is the only tool they will need. I will teach by making a single website, updated throughout the four weeks, which I will screenshare with the students. Students will be expected to follow along during tutorials, making their own websites. I will encourage them to get creative within this tutorial, suggesting that the words they make up be silly or poetic, for example. Students will be required to post to Canvas a website representing their progress on a weekly basis, for a total of four websites; this will be the work they did during the tutorial, expanded with more well-thought-out content. Students will also be required to respond to another (random) student’s work in a letter, also posted to Canvas, explaining what they felt worked for them. I will provide specific guidelines for what should go into these letters.

Another third of the course will be spent in discussion of the “readings.” The bulk of these readings will be web-based creative works, which we’ll read/view/play in more or less chronological order. While there will be an attempt to show a representative sample of the work being made since the dawn of the Internet, there will be a heavy emphasis on works still available online today. Many of the works explored will be websites, but we will also look at creative interventions in social media, such as Twitter bots or fake online personas. We will also discuss micro-excerpts from canonical digital language arts theorists such as N. Katherine Hayles, Espen Arseth, and Ted Nelson.

The final third of the class will be a workshop of the work that students have turned in. Each student will be expected to workshop one of their four websites. We would conclude the class by exploring publishing venues for web-based creative works, so that students can submit the work they’ve made, if they wish.

Students would learn about the history and current state of web-based creative works. They would also come away with fluency in HTML, CSS, and basic jQuery.

This course would be a great start to a career in coding. It would also be a great start and/or advancement for people working creatively across literature/art/performance/music/gaming worlds.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this class. Students should simply be excited to learn and open to disregarding things they’ve previously taken for granted.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL0924
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

Summer@Brown for English Language Learners

A select group of non-credit courses in the liberal arts and sciences supplemented with English language learning, two weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For University-bound English language learners completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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