Electronic Literature

DMS 463/563:: M/W 11-12:50 :: CFA 235

Josephine Anstey, jranstey at buffalo, office hrs Wed 1-2




For about forty years, writer/artists have been using the computer as a medium for creating fictional and dramatic experiences. Many different kinds of both mainstream and experimental work fit under the umbrella of Electronic Literature: Digital Interactive Storytelling, Games, Intermedia Performance, Interactive Narrative, Hypertext, Location-media, Virtual Reality, Escape Rooms. Practitioners variously focus on visuals, writing, coding, sound. Delivery systems are flexible and diverse: from mobile phone app to physical installation to augmented reality. This course focuses on this expanding and morphing territory. Students will read theoretical texts, analyze work, and experiment with the creation of their own fictional and literary experiences in and around computer media.

Upon Completion of the course student will be able to …

1. Trace the development and contemporary trends of Electronic Literature Reading/Playing Assignments, Class discussions, Presentation
2. Discuss major theoretical issues of Electronic Literature. Reading/Playing Assignments, Class discussions, Presentation
3. Use theoretical material to analyze works of Electronic Literature. Presentation
4. Plan and implement an interactive fiction projects. Projects

Required Playing/Reading
See Schedule

Course Requirements and Grading:

Reading/Projects listed next to a date should be read/played by that date.

  • Reading, Participation and Attendance, – You are expected to come to class thoroughly read/played on the material (not simply skimmed) and prepared for engaged participation with written comments/questions about projects and articles. (15 points).
  • First Project (10 points)
  • Presentation : See Guidelines below(25 points)
  • Final Project (50 points)
    • Project Proposal/Planning documents (15 points)
    • Project Demo – playable/testable version of project (15 points)
    • Project Final (20 points).

Presentation Guidelines

  • Work with group to present panel of presentations on assigned topic
  • Each member of the panel presents for 20 mins
  • Present reading, projects and analysis of projects with reference to the reading
  • To prepare to speak about project – play project, talk to someone else who has played the project
  • Present using Powerpoint, prezi, html
    • Overview of the project/paper
    • Demonstration of project – 2 mins max)
    • Analysis of project/paper
      • themes, ideas, author(s) intentions
      • “game” mechanics & how they supported the theme
      • liked/did not like – and WHY
    • Conclusion
  • Failure to present on the day of your panel without a documented excuse will result in an F for this part of the course.
  • Send pdf or pptx of presentation to me – NOT a link


Attendance for every class is mandatory barring serious emergency or cultural/religious event. Each student is allowed two unexcused absences for whatever reason (e.g., illness, weather). If extenuating circumstances arise (e.g., serious medical problems, child care), please contact the instructor as soon as possible to address the situation. Barring emergency circumstances, each absence after two will drop lower the final grade by a full grade for each additional absence (i.e.,3 absences = B->C). Punctuality is also expected. For the purposes of grading, three tardies will equal one unexcused absence.


Disclosure Statement:

This class may include material dealing with ethical, political and moral concerns. I will make every effort to advise of any content that may be disturbing.


  • information about academic dishonesty, criteria for incompletes
  • information about accessibility resources and academic resources
  • information about student code of conduct & equity, diversity and inclusion policies
  • warning about using WEAPONS as PROPS in student productions


ADDITIONAL GRADUATE REQUIREMENT: Throughout the semester, you will construct a network of reading based first on class readings, the books on course reserve, and then on books, articles, etc. that cite these books. The readings should serve as the research basis for your own future work. Finally, you can use this foundation to construct an annotated bibliography for the articles you’ve read/found. For each entry, you will write 1-2 sentences outlining the argument and its relevance to your own project. Minimum of 30 entries.